Chia Pets are American styled terracotta figurines used to sprout chia, where the chia sprouts grow within a couple of weeks to resemble the animal’s fur or hair. Moistened seeds of chia (Salvia hispanica) are applied to the grooved terracotta figurine body.
Marketed by Joe Pedott and produced by San Francisco, California-based company Joseph Enterprises, Inc., the first Chia Pet, Chia Guy was created on September 8, 1977. A trademark registration was filed on Monday, October 17, 1977. Pedott first learned about Chia Pets when he attended a housewares show in Chicago in 1977. Chia Pets achieved popularity in the 1980s following the 1982 release of a ram, the first widely marketed Chia Pet.
The catchphrase sung in the TV commercial as the plant grows in time lapse is “Ch-ch-ch-chia!”. This catchphrase originated at an agency brainstorming meeting, where one of the individuals present pretended to stutter the product name. As of 2007, approximately 500,000 Chia Pets were sold annually, and they are sold only during the holiday season. Originally made in Mexico, Chia Pets are now produced in China.
A range of generic animals has been produced, including a turtle, pig, puppy, kitten, frog, and hippopotamus. Cartoon characters have also been licensed, including Garfield, Scooby-Doo, Looney Tunes, Shrek, The Simpsons, and Spongebob. Additionally, there are Chia Pets depicting presidents, including Barack Obama!