By Robert K. Elder
CHICAGO – In a world occupied by President Barack Obama commemorative plates and coins, perhaps the Chia Obama was inevitable.
San Francisco-based Joseph Enterprises, the company behind the Chia Pet and The Clapper, is rolling out its own brand of patriotism with a clay statuette of the commander in chief. Just add water and Obama’s hair grows faster than the national deficit.
“It’s unbelievable the interest we’ve had on the product,” says Joe Pedott, president of Joseph Enterprises and the company’s namesake, speaking by telephone Monday from the International Home amp& Housewares Show at Chicago’s McCormick Place.
Although the official launch of the product is April 2 for stores such as Walgreens, the Chia Obama has been rolling out slowly on the Internet and in Chicago and Tampa.
Last year, someone – Pedott can’t remember who – suggested that he sell a Chia Obama.
“I sloughed it off immediately,” says Pedott, a Chicago native who founded the company in 1952.
But Pedott’s subconscious got the better of him.
“Then, I was dreaming. I get my best ideas dreaming,” he says. “I dreamed that I put out a very serious, pro-American, supportive Chia. … The president is a sacred person. I asked, ‘Can I take that fun feeling and turn it into something serious?’ So I did it.”
That’s not to say his staff was completely supportive. But Pedott made an executive decision and ordered 160,000 of the busts. They come in two varieties: a “determined” pose and a smaller number of “happy” statuettes.
This will be the first president with his own garden-headed Chia, Pedott says – which is not without risk.
“I’ve never sold a Chia Pet outside Christmas,” he says.
Others who share the Chia honor: Homer Simpson, SpongeBob SquarePants and Scooby-Doo.