Guide to the Joseph Pedott papers

Administrative Information

Repository Information

Archives Center, National Museum of American History, 2009

P.O. Box 37012
 Suite 1100, MRC 601
 Washington, D.C., 20013-7012
 Phone: 202-633-3270

Conditions Governing Access note

The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use note

Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning intellectual property rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

The collection was donated by Joseph Pedott, 2005.

Processing Information note

Processed by Cassandra A. Schmitt, February 2007; supervised by Alison Oswald and Wendy Shay, archivists.

Return to Table of Contents »

Summary Information

Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Joseph Enterprises, Inc.
Creator - (creator,
Pedott, Joseph
Joseph Pedott papers
circa 1976-2005
2.00 Cubic feet; 3 boxes
Language of Materials note
Some business correspondence in Mandarin; some packaging in French and German.
Papers relating to products developed and marketed by Joseph Enterprises, Inc., including the Chia Pet and the Clapper. The collection includes internal business documentation including correspondence, design drawings, and photographs. Print advertising and packaging samples as well as audiovisual materials make up an important part of the collection. The video collection includes commercials for the Chia and Clapper products as well as clips of product mentions in popular entertainment. In addition, there is a recorded oral history of an interview with Joseph Pedott as well as a summary of the interview.

Preferred Citation note

Joseph Pedott papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

Return to Table of Contents »

Biographical/Historical note

Joseph Pedott was born April 14, 1932 in San Francisco. He attended the University of Illinois, where he and friend Daryl Peters, began the advertising company, Pedott & Peters. They successfully began producing commercials for automotive and retail companies and made a large amount of money by the time they reached the age of twenty-one. After making a bad business investment the partners focused on completing college. They began building up the company upon graduation.

Pedott & Peters worked together for several years before deciding to dissolve the partnership. Pedott then began working for R. Jack Scott, a Chicago advertising agency. Pedott worked for Scott for just over two years and during that time, out-performed those with more experience in the advertising field. Pedott left Chicago for San Francisco in 1956. He worked briefly at a small firm on commission before forming his own agency, Joseph Pedott Advertising & Marketing. Pedott’s firm was innovative in advertising techniques. The company was the first to use “dealer tagging,” a technique used at the ends of television commercials. During the last five seconds of the commercial consumers would learn where the advertised item could be purchased.

While attending a Chicago house wares show Pedott noticed the Chia Pet. He spoke with the product owner and learned that while the product was selling well, the owner was losing money on every Chia sold. Pedott bought the name and concept and reworked the manufacturing of the product after a trip to Mexico to witness first hand how the Chias were made. Pedott created a new company, Joseph Enterprises, Inc., (JEI) to manufacture the Chias. Joseph Pedott Advertising ran the advertising campaigns for all of JEI’s products while continuing to work for non JEI clients.

After improving the quality of the product, the “new” Chia arrived on the market in 1982 and quickly expanded throughout the country, sold largely at drugstores. Today, the Chia Pet has large name recognition among the American public and continues to be a popular gift, especially at Christmas time. The line has expanded beyond the original ram and bull shapes to include a variety of animals (pig, elephant, kitten, dinosaur, etc.) as well as famous cultural icons such as Jerry Garcia, Bugs Bunny and various Looney Tunes characters, and Homer and Bart Simpson. In addition, the Chia Herb Garden entered the market in the mid-1990s.

Pedott’s other success, the Clapper, came about through the advertising campaign for the Great American Turn On. Pedott discovered that the original product did not work properly and felt the owners were cheating their customers. JEI bought the product, including the patent, and reworked the electrical wiring to ensure that the company was selling a high quality product. As with the Chia Pet, The Clapper and its advertising, like the Chia, are familiar to a large number of Americans.

Note: Material for this section was taken from Joe Pedott Oral History Interview Abstract, September 20, 2004, Joseph Pedott Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

Return to Table of Contents »

Scope and Contents note

The collection documents the Chia Pet and the Clapper products of Joseph Enterprises, Inc. Other products represented include packaging and advertising campaigns by Joseph Pedott Advertising & Marketing for other companies.

Series 1, Oral History Interview, September 2004, consists of two audio cassettes and an abstract of the oral history interview with Joseph Pedott. John Fleckner, NMAH archivist, conducted the interview on September 20, 2004.

Series 3, The Clapper, 1976-1985, undated, contains correspondence, legal documents, advertising, packaging and blueprints related to the manufacture and marketing of the clapper. The correspondence is arranged chronologically and details the finances and manufacture of the Clapper. The majority of correspondence addresses parts/components and the associated drawings from the Taiwan Electronics Mfg. Corporation and the Taiwan William Computer Mfg. Corporation. There is some correspondence with Pedott’s attorney about trademark issues surrounding the Clapper. The legal documents pertain to a 1984 breach of contract between Joseph Enterprises, Inc., and Real Time Technology Ltd., regarding the timely supply of a sonic control switch for the Clapper. The advertising materials contain a 1988 script for video and audio spots and the photographs depict the Clapper’s many uses.

Series 4, Scribe Ett, 1981, 1984, undated, documents an engraving pen that identifies and decorates metal, plastic, leather and wood. The documentation consists of advertisements, product literature, and contact sheets for a thirty-second commercial spot.

Series 5, Eversharp Pen Company, undated, contains advertising materials in the form of storyboards for two Eversharp Pen Company products, the “Tip-Wic” pen and fishing lures.

Series 6, Various Products, 1985, undated, contains black-and-white photographs, correspondence, drawings, and packaging for the Garden Weasel™ (a Braucke product of Germany), the Cordwheel (a product of ReMAR, Inc.), the Pumpkin Light and Pumpkin Kutter, a champagne maker kit, hair dryer, coffee maker, blender, mixer, and crock pot.

Series 7, Newspaper Clippings, 1989-2004, undated, consists mostly of photocopied newspaper clippings about the Chia Pet and Clapper.

Series 8, Video and Film Material, 1979-2005, undated, consists of BetaCam SP, 3⁄4” U-Matic, 1⁄2" VHS, and film documenting commercials and promotional spots featuring Joseph Enterprises, Inc., products. Special emphasis is on the Chia Pet and the Clapper.

Return to Table of Contents »

Arrangement note

Collection organized into eight series.

Series 1: Oral History Interview, September 2004

Series 2: Chia Pet, 1981-2005, undated

Series 3: The Clapper, 1976-1985, undated

Series 4: Scribe Ett, 1981, 1984, undated

Series 5: Eversharp Pen Company, undated

Series 6: Various Products, 1985, undated

Series 7: Newspaper Clippings, 1989-2004, undated

Series 8: Audiovisual Materials, 1979-2005, undated

Subseries 1, Commercials, 1979-2005

Subseries 2, Promotions, 1996-2001

Return to Table of Contents »

Related Materials

Related Archival Materials note

Materials in the National Museum of American History

The Division of Culture and the Arts holds artifacts related to this collection (Accession # 2005.3116) that include:

1. Chia Pet Handmade Clay Decorative Planter with Chia Seeds, Chia pet dog

2. Chia Pet Handmade Clay Decorative Planter with Chia Seeds, Chia pet ram

3. Chia Pet Handmade Clay Decorative Planter with Chia Seeds, Chia pet bull

4. Chia Pet Handmade Clay Decorative Planter with Chia Seeds, Chia-saurus

5. Chia Pet Handmade Clay Decorative Planter with Chia Seeds, Chia Shrek character

6. Handmade Clay Decorative Planter with Chia Seeds, Donkey from Shrek

7. Chia Pet Handmade Clay Decorative Planter with Chia Seeds, Jerry Garcia Chia

8. Bigmouth: A portable, plastic garbage bag holder

9A. CD Mobile antenna with packaging

9B. CB Mobile monitor with box

10. Video recorder with packaging

11. Metal detector with packaging

12. Pen set with frame and packaging

13. Light switch with box

14. Light switch with packaging

15. Jar lid opener with box

16. Tapeless measure with packaging

17A. Pen, engraving

17B. Pen, engraving with packaging

17C. Pen, engraving with packaging

17D. Pen, engraving with packaging

18A. Knife, Pumpkin cutter

18B. Knife, Pumpkin cutter

18C. Knife, Pumpkin cutter

18D. Knife, Pumpkin cutter

18E. Knife with packaging

18F. Pumpkin cutter with packaging

Return to Table of Contents »

Controlled Access Headings


  • Advertisements
  • Audiotapes
  • Design drawings
  • Interviews
  • Oral history
  • Packaging
  • Photographs--1950-2000.


  • Novelties
  • Popular culture
  • Toys

Return to Table of Contents »

Collection Inventory

 Series 1: Oral History Interview, 2004 September

Box Folder

Oral history abstract, 2004 September

1 17
Box Cassette

Oral history (archival original cassette), 2004 September

3 OTC 898.1

Oral history (reference copy cassette), 2004 September

4 RTC 898.1

Return to Table of Contents »

 Series 2: Chia Pet, 1981-2005, undated

Box Folder

Chia Pet, manufacture, undated

1 1

Chia Pet, packaging and advertising, circa 1980s

2 1

Chia Pet, advertising, 1992, undated

1 2

Return to Table of Contents »

 Series 3: The Clapper, 1976-1985, undated

Box Folder

The Clapper, business correspondence, 1984 February-April

1 3

The Clapper, business correspondence, 1984 May

1 4

The Clapper, business correspondence, 1984 June

1 5

The Clapper, business correspondence, 1984 July

1 6

The Clapper, business correspondence, 1984 August

1 7

The Clapper, business correspondence, 1984 September-October

1 8

The Clapper, manufacture, 1976-1985, undated

1 9

The Clapper, legal documents, 1985

1 10

The Clapper, advertising, 1988, 2002

1 11

The Clapper, photographs, undated

1 12

The Clapper, packaging and advertising, circa 1980s

2 2

The Clapper, blueprints, 1984

2 8

Return to Table of Contents »

 Series 4: Scribe Ett, 1981, 1984, undated

Box Folder

Scribe Ett, advertising, 1981, undated

1 14

Scribe Ett, packaging, 1984, undated

1 13

Return to Table of Contents »

 Series 5: Eversharp Pen Company, undated

Box Folder

Eversharp, advertising--pen, undated

2 3

Eversharp, advertising--fishing lures, undated

2 4

Return to Table of Contents »

 Series 6: Various Products, 1985, undated

Box Folder

Various products, packaging--Garden Weasel, undated

2 5

Various products, packaging--Cordwheel, undated

2 6

Various products, packaging--Pumpkin Light, undated

2 7

Various products, advertising, 1985, undated

1 15

Return to Table of Contents »

 Series 7: Newspaper Clippings, 1989-2004, undated


Return to Table of Contents »

 Series 8: Audiovisual Materials, 1979-2005, undated

 Subseries 1: Commercials, 1979-2005

Early Joseph Enterprises, Inc., television commercials, 2005 April 5

  Box Video
Moving Images   3 OV 898.2
  Box Video
Moving Images   4 RV 898.2

Original: ½” VHS

Total Running Time: 16:36

1. Old Spots:

Garden Weasel with Jerry Baker, black-and-white

Hot iron cleaner, black-and-white

Quickie, an automatic sponge mop, black-and-white

Quickie, black-and-white

Sheer Magic, black-and-white

Entry Alert, black-and-white

Lumi-tronic by Lumiscope- for checking high blood pressure, black-and-white

Flontron- electric bug zapper, black-and-white

ENM Tapeless measure, black-and-white

ENM Stud Finder, color

2. Garden Weasel with Jim Martindale, color

3. 2nd one 1990 February 23

4. Chia Pet- The Pottery that Grows, color, 1990 February 23, with demonstration and narration, “good friend and an adventure in growing”

5. The Clapper, color, 1989 February 28, with narration and song

6. The Clapper, color, 1989 December 28, with narration and song

7. Great American Turn On, color, 1979 November 12, with narration

Old Chia spots, 1989-2000

  Box Video
Moving Images   3 OV 898.3
  Box Video
Moving Images   4 RV 898.3

Original: ½" VHS

Contains a variety of Chia and Clapper television commercials

1. Two Chia tree commercials

2. Chia pet commercials

3. 1 original Chia commercial with demonstration

4. At 5:40 Clapper commercials

5. 1992, Smart Clapper, color commercial

4. 1992 Chia Garden, color commercial

5. 1996 Chia, color commercial

6. 1996 “Archeologist” Chia, color commercial

7. Same

8. 1996 Mt. Chiamore, color commercial

9. 1995 Chia Herb garden, color commercial

10. same

11. 1996 Smart clapper color commercial

12. same

Then On loops beginning with the “Archeologist” commercial

Early Joseph Enterprises, Inc., television commercials, “Classic” Chia Pet, 2005 May 11

  Box Video
Moving Images   3 OV 898.4
  Box Video
Moving Images   4 RV 898.4

Original: ½” VHS

Total Running time: 05:45

1. early Chia Pet commercial, colored, with narration and demonstration

2. 1998 with narration, searching for the perfect gift, with song, contains Chia heads and pets, “treasure of a gift”

3. 1996, especially for Chia heads, with narration and song

4. 1900, focused marketing towards children, with narration and song

5. 2002, Scooby Doo and Looney Tunes characters, with narration and song

6. 2004

Box Video

Early Joseph Enterprises, Inc., television commercials, “Classic” Clapper, 2005 May 11

Total Running Time: 03:31

1. color, narrated

2. 1989, color with narration and song

3. 1996, Smart Clapper

4. with narration and new song

3 OV 898.5

 Subseries 2: Promotions, 1996-2001

Box Video

"Displays Chia Herb Garden after Promo Prizes on Wheel of Fortune and  Jeopardy", 1996

1. Jeopardy, 1995, Chia pet sponsor

2. Jeopardy, 1995 Chia herb garden sponsor

3. Wheel of Fortune, Chia herb garden sponsor

4. Wheel of Fortune, Chia pet sponsor

4 RV 898.6

Joseph Enterprises, Inc., 1999 promotional tape, 1999 January 8

Original: ½” VHS

Total Running Time: 08:20

A promotional tape highlighting the mention and use of the Chia Pet, the Clapper, and Joe Pedott in popular commercials, television shows, talk shows, movies, and comedy. The list below includes the origins of all the clips. The order of clips on the tape is not the same as the listing. Clips are mixed and intermingled throughout the tape. There is a montage of clapper scenes at the end of the video.

Clips are included from:

1. The Today Show- Katie Couric, references Clapper

2. Energizer Bunny Commercial, references Clapper

3. Jeopardy, references Chia

4. Jeff Foxworthy, references Clapper

5. Maury Povich, references Chia and Clapper

6. Frasier, references Clapper

7. Tonite Show- Jay Leno, references Chia

8. Tonite Show- Johnny Carson, references Chia

9. Ellen, references Chia

10. Murphy Brown, references Chia

11. Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood

12. Beck’s Beer Commercial, references Chia

13. Big Comfy Couch- kids show

14. Eddie Murphy Movie

15. Saturday Night Live, references Chia

16. Guys Like Us, references Chia

17. Married with Children, references Chia

18. Ford Commercial, references Chia

19. The Pretender, references Chia

20. In Living Color, references Chia

3 OV 898.7

Joseph Enterprises, Inc., 1999 promotional tape, 1999 January 8

Total Running Time; 08:20

Same description as above, OV 898.7

4 RV 898.7-1

Joseph Enterprises, Inc., 1999 promotional tape, 1999 January 8

Total Running Time: 45:46, repeats after 08:20

Same description as OV 898.7, except will continue to loop for 60 minutes

4 RV 898.7-2

Joseph Enterprises product mentions, 2001

  Box Video
Moving Images   4 RV 898.8
  Box Video
Moving Images   3 OV 898.8

Original: ½” VHS

Total Running Time: 19:00, on 60 minute loop

Clips of commercials, product mentions in popular television, movies, talk, and comedy shows.

1. Saturday Night Live (SNL)  Jeopardy skit, references Clapper

2. Weirdest TV Products- #5 The Clapper, 1995

3. Weirdest TV Products- # 1 Chia Pet, 1995

4. I’ve Got a Secret with guest Joe Pedott

5. Spot for Chia merchandise including hats, sweatshirts, cups, and watches

6. Saturday Night Live Chia solution for male pattern baldness

7. Becks Beer Television Commercial, references Clapper

8. The Pretender, references Chia

9. Murphy Brown, references Chia

10. Ford car television commercial, references Chia

11. Ellen Show, references Chia

12. Today Show- Katie Couric, references Clapper

13. Eddie Murphy Movie, references Clapper

14. John Lithgow clip, references Clapper

15. Saturday Night Live Chia solution for male pattern baldness

16. Saturday Night Live skit, references Clapper

17. Married with Children, references Clapper

18. Clapper Christmas television commercial

19. Energizer Bunny television commercial, reference Clapper

20. Mr. Rogers, references Clapper

21. Suspicious Chia gift, suspense/crime show

22. Conan O’Brian, references Mr. T. Chia pet

23. TV sitcom, references “Chia chest” [invention by characters in the scene]

24. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, references Clapper

25. Cheesy Pet, “pour on cheese, you won’t believe your eyes,” references Chia

Joseph Pedott advertising, 2000 October 7

  Box Video
Moving Images   4 RV 898.9
  Box Video
Moving Images   3 OV 898.9

Original: BetaCam SP

Total Running Time: 00:60

1. Gift Chia Pet commercial

2. Chia Looney Tunes commercial

Joseph Pedott advertising, demo, 2000 August 9

  Box Video
Moving Images   4 RV 898.10
  Box Video
Moving Images   3 OV 898.10

Original: BetaCam SP

1. Chia Pet and Clapper

Joseph Pedott Enterprises, “Chia Spots”, 1996 September 3

  Box Video
Moving Images   4 RV 898.11
  Box Video
Moving Images   3 OV 898.11

Original: ¾” Umatic

1. Archaeologist, 60 seconds

2. Archaeologist, 30 seconds

3. Mt. Chiamore, no pet, 30 seconds

4. Holiday Gift, 60 seconds

5. Holiday Gift, 30 seconds

Box Video

Joseph Pedott advertising & marketing, 1992 October 11

Original: 1” videotape

1. The Smart Clapper, 60 seconds

2. The Smart Clapper, 30 seconds

3. Kids Chia Herb Garden, 30 seconds

4. Chia Herb Garden, 30 seconds

5. Chia Herb Garden, 60 seconds

3 OV 898.12

Joseph Pedott advertising, Tradeway sales, 1992 November 16

Original: 1” videotape

1. Chia Pet, 30 seconds

2. Chia Pet, 30 seconds

3. Herb Garden, 30 seconds

4. Herb Garden 30 seconds

3 OV 898.13

Return to Table of Contents »