With a legacy spanning four decades, Chia Pets have proven to be anything but a fad. First marketed in the early ‘80s in iconic TV commercials, these quirky, grow-it-yourself terra cotta planters remain as popular as ever, with dozens of different styles available. The “Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!” jingle is known across generations, and more than 25 million Chia Pets have been sold to date. Chia Pets are even in the Smithsonian! Learn more about the history of this unique, American icon below.
Native Chicagoan, University of Illinois graduate, and marketing whiz Joseph Pedott moves to San Francisco to start his own advertising agency.
While attending a housewares trade show in search of new clients, Pedott asks a buyer from a large drugstore chain about his biggest holiday seller. It’s a terra cotta planter shaped like a ram. When watered and coated with a paste of Salvia hispanica seeds, it grows chia sprouts resembling “hair.”
Intrigued, Pedott learns from the product’s inventor and importer, Walter Houston, that while it may be popular, it isn’t turning a profit.
Pedott buys the rights and investigates.
Pedott visits Oaxaca, Mexico, where the earthenware planters are being made. He catches a middleman stealing, fires him, and starts working with the makers directly.
Now he just needs the right marketing.
Pedott starts the gadget company Joseph Enterprises to take his business in a new direction.
The company introduces the Chia ram, the first widely marketed and distributed Chia Pet. Their TV commercials achieve iconic popularity throughout the 1980s with their low-budget feel and irresistible jingle. More Chia animals come next, including turtles, kittens, and puppies.
What about that iconic jingle?
Depending on who you ask, the delightfully catchy “Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia” phrase is discovered in an agency brainstorming session… or during a night out at a bar. Regardless, someone pretended to stutter the Chia name, and Pedott knew a good thing when he heard it.
The Clapper, another popular product with an equally catchy jingle, is introduced.
Chia Pets prove to be a pop culture phenomenon and are even parodied on Saturday Night Live.
The first licensed Chia Pets are released with Looney Tunes character planters. Homer Simpson and Mr. T soon follow.
A Chia Pet is included in a New York Times time capsule to be opened in the year 3000.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History asks Pedott to donate a selection of Chia Pets, along with his company’s papers and TV advertising tapes, to the Behring archive center.
Chia begins making Chia Pets of real-life public figures, beginning with President Barack Obama. Sales of Chia presidential candidates predict the outcomes of the next two elections.
Joseph Enterprises is acquired by NECA (National Entertainment Collectibles Association), a leading creator, marketer, and global distributor of licensed consumer products.
Today, Chia continues to create a variety of licensed products from beloved movies, TV, and pop culture franchises, including Star Wars.
Chia.com launches a new website with a playful interactive web experience. Chia continues to be a beloved brand that is ever evolving and growing!
in loving memory
Joseph Pedott passes away at the age of 91. He leaves behind an incredible legacy built on bringing delight and joy to millions of people.
An accomplished philanthropist, Joe believed in helping those who faced similar life challenges he faced as a youth. His foundations in California and Illinois continue to help underprivileged high school students attend and succeed in college.