Cha Cha Chia, just as kitschy jingle as the product itself, it is crazy to believe over 500,000 Chia Pet's are sold every year. The master-marketing-mind Joe Pedott stumbled upon the terra-cotta tchotchke while attending a Chicago housewares show in 1977. In recognizing this product's potential, Pedott's advertising agency Joseph Enterprises thought up the catchy little jingle after a "Mad Men" like brainstorming session, where someone drunkenly stuttered ch..ch..chia. The rest is history. The Chia pet was included in the New York Time's time capsule and archived at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
So as processed food/GMO's entered the home so did the cherished Chia Pet. The post-war modern era decided to forgo the vegetable garden and pet dog, in exchange for the cherished Chia Pet.
Like Gary Dahl the inventor of the Pet Rock, Pedott cashed in on this newly developing niche marketing, as seen on TV and as gag gifts. Pedott and Joseph Enterprises are also responsible to the Clapper, where for all you Millennials, this is not your free-spirited friend, but a device that turns your lights turn on/off via clapping your hands not your thighs. Plenty of parodies have spoofed this as well as the Chia Pet, such as the Chia Cock and Chia Crotch seen above. Next up the chia chair, chia carpet, chia china cup, and a chia chinchilla.
Like the pet rock, the Chia Pet also requires minimal maintenance and will cost you about $10-$30 dollars. Sure it will inevitably kill you by growing Black Mold and is about as entertaining as watching grass grow or an old dude use Rogaine, but heck you have plenty of time to fill or time to kill. You could spend your whole life waiting for Chia Pet to sprout, kind of like candles in the wind.
100 Objects of Popular and Material Culture is an blog exploring the manifestations of human consumption and commodity-ization. The purpose of this experiment is to explore material and popular culture in contemporary society by using objects and concepts to prompt wider questions and reflections. So by emulating The British Museum's and Neil MacGregor's format of A History of the World in 100 Objects I plan to satirically analyze and reinterpreted 100 material culture objects over the course of 2014. Material Culture is the study of our culture's consumption of stuff; namely the manifestation of culture through material productions where people's perceptions of objects is socially and culturally dependent. With this, objects reflect conscious and unconscious beliefs on the the individuals who fabricated, purchased, or used them, and by extension the society where they live. So examining materiality, cultural truths and societal assumptions may be discovered. As anthropologist Arjun Appaduai states "in any society the individual is often caught between the cultural structure of commodity-ization and his own personal attempts to bring a value and order to the universe of things." Objects and commodities make up a much larger symbolic system consisting of want and need, socio-economic status, fashion, etc. Often times form follows function whether the commodity, market, and or consumer forever evolve around one-another. Philosopher Pierre Bourdieu's theories of capital flow full circle; where regardless if you are a minimalist or a hoarder the world is made up of things and everyone will leave their footprint on the earth. So by humorously analyzing marketed objects and concepts, hopefully this blog will provide further incite into ideas of over-consumption, a disposable society, consumerism vs. anti-consumers, planned obsolescence vs. sustainability, as well as the greater good of mankind and future generations.