If the world had a logo, I think it would be Hello Kitty. She’s everywhere.
When I’m strolling the streets of a quaint European town, searching for a picturesque shot, she’s there… flying on banners, spilling out of postcard racks, and bobbing up and down in balloon bouquets.
So I just have to ask: What’s with Hello Kitty? Why is the world obsessed with this big-headed, pink-clad cat?
She’s cute, sure. I probably owned a Hello Kitty pencil case when I was a kid. But why does the whole world seem fascinated by her?
Obsessed with this question, I embarked on a little Hello Kitty research. What I found didn’t exactly answer my question, but it did teach me a few things I didn’t know:
* H.K. was created in Japan, yet according to her profile, she is British (born in London to be exact).
* She’s named after a cat called ‘Kitty’ in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass.
* She is five apples tall and weighs 3 apples.
* Her last name is White.
* She doesn’t have a mouth because we are supposed to project our feelings onto her.
* In addition to modeling for products that gross half-a-billion dollars a year, she has been an ambassador, starred in her own TV show, owned theme parks, restaurants, commercial jets, a jewelry line, wine varieties, and even a maternity hospital.
That girl has it all.
Maybe I’m just a little jealous.
For instance, the Ritter Chocolate Bar. It’s square. Not rectangular like nearly every other candy bar in the world. Ritter bars are square.
That’s just the way it is.
Well, guess what? Ritter bars were not invented this way on a whim. They were invented this way for a reason.
When I first moved to Germany, I attended a culture class. On the last day of the class, our instructor took us to the Ritter Chocolate Factory and Museum. I wasn’t sure how this counted as German culture, but I happily went along for the chance to eat chocolate. While I was sampling, I learned two things: the word Ritter means Knight and the chocolate bar of the same name has been part of German culture since 1932.
It’s made for walking.
Apparently, a very clever woman by the name of Clara Ritter realized that chocolate bars were the best travel snack around. Even the great German poets said so…
There was just one problem: those pesky rectangular bars didn’t fit very well in pockets and they had a nasty habit of breaking. Clara Ritter’s solution?
Who would’ve thought?
Today, Ritter is still packaging chocolate that’s made for walking. If you visit the factory, be sure to head to the back room of the museum shop. There you’ll find pre-packed bags of Ritter bars with easy-to-carry handles…just right for walking.
Better get two…if you’re anything like me, only one bag of the bags will make it home to share with friends.
Okay… maybe only half a bag.
Everybody collects something.
Me? I collect bathroom signs. A friend of mine has a motto when she travels: “First You Pee, Then You See.”
I follow that motto, too, so I’m always on the lookout for bathroom signs.
Here are a few of my favorites:
When I first came to Europe, I was perplexed by the 00 that appears on so many bathroom signs. A quick internet search gave me some answers.
Some say 00 is simply the the room number assigned to the WC. Others speculate that 00 is a shorter version of 100 which, in some places, is a euphemism for WC and may be the source of the English word Loo.
Still others say the 00 represents the holes that used to be cut in the door so you could see if the bathroom was occupied.
My favorite explanation, though, is from Germany. ‘Null’ is the word for zero, thus 00 is pronounced null-null … the English equivalent of which is null-and-void.
Kind of appropriate, don’t you think?
This next sign is similar to the one above, but suggests that nulling and voiding is only permitted from 12 – 1.
I’m not sure the word “Gentleman” is appropriate in this case:
And ladies are apparently only welcome if they bring a ball on a fork:
In some cases, people need to be told where not to go to the bathroom:
And of course, we can’t forget our doggy friends:
Now that I’m on the lookout for funny bathroom signs, I think I’ll have to change my motto:
First I’ll See, Then I’ll Pee.