Remember This: Reddy Kilowatt

Dorri Partain
Northeast News

Someone’s in the kitchen with Reddy Kilowatt.

In 1926, Ashton B. Collins Sr. was looking to personify electrical power.

As the marketing manager for the Alabama Power Company, his inspiration came from viewing how lightning “danced” during a storm.

The result was drawn as a marketing character with “electric” arms and legs, a light bulb nose, and outlet ears.

Children’s book artist Dorothea Warren refined Reddy’s image in 1933 and Ashton was granted U.S. Patent #302,093, leading to the development of the Reddy Kilowatt Service (RKS).

RKS marketed Reddy’s image to additional electric companies, appearing alongside their logos and other promotional materials.

Walter Lantz, creator of Woody Woodpecker and Andy Panda, created a cartoon and comic book in 1946 aimed at teaching children the wonders of electricity.

The cartoon introduced Reddy’s new jingle, “I wash and dry your clothes, play your radios, I can heat your coffee pot. I am always there, with lots of power to spare, ‘cause I’m Reddy Kilowatt.”

By 1957, there were 222 electric companies licensed to use Reddy’s image across America and dozens more in countries around the world.

Locally, Reddy appeared on utility bills and more for the Kansas City Power and Light Company,  founded as the Kansas City Electric Light Company in 1884.

The pamphlet shown was distributed by the utility’s Homes Services Department to promote usage of electrical appliances.

Recipes include hamburger amore, tuna romanoff, and fruit cocktail upside-down cake using an electric skillet, peanut butter ’n jelly pie using a blender, and garlic bread using a toaster oven.

Representatives from the Home Services Department made presentations during home economics classes at local schools, trade shows, and daytime television programs.

Reddy’s image was last updated in 1998, and RKS was sold to Xcel Energy in 2000. The image is rarely used since that time and is not currently marketed.

As of October 1, KCPL is now Evergy.

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