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Here's how it all began. In 1960, a visionary named Shintaro Tsuji formed a company designed to bring big smiles through little gifts to youngsters worldwide. Tsuji created a line designed around gift-giving occasions. 41 years later, Tsuji is the Chairman of the Sanrio Company, Ltd. based in Tokyo. In 1976, the Sanrio craze spread to the U.S. when the first American boutique opened in California. Today there are over 4,000 locations in North and South America that proudly display Sanrio character information, and over 200 Sanrio boutique stores. Sanrio now distributes their products throughout Japan, Southeast Asia, the Americas and Europe.

In the early days, Sanrio had two main characters-Hello Kitty and Little Stars. Sanrio introduced Hello Kitty on November 1, 1974. She resides in London with her parents and her twin sister, Mimmy. They are in third grade and have close friendships with Tracey, a boy raccoon, and Joey, Hello Kitty likes to travel, listen to music, read and eat Mimmy's cookies. Sanrio developed Hello Kitty to serve as a friendly companion to people of all ages. And for everyone who wants to know, she does not have a mouth because she is Sanrio's ambassador to the world and therefore speaks from the heart, not constrained by language.

In 1975, Kiki and Lala, Little Twin Stars, became a part of the family. They were born on the Star of Compassion. During their early years, they passed the time wondering about life on Earth. After Mother-Star and Father-Star gave them permission, they traveled to Earth. Lala's wand led them while they were on their journey and ever since they came to Earth, their purpose has been to spread happiness to everyone they meet. In an effort to appeal to more children, Sanrio created the gender-neutral character Keroppi. Keroppi was born on July 1st. He lives in a big house on the edge of Donut Pond with his brother, sister, and parents. Keroppi and his friends spend their days playing games; their favorites are baseball and boomerangs. He also was the first character introduced with a love life. He has a girlfriend, Keroleen, that he spends a lot of time with. Also he has his own sidekick, his snail friend Den Den, that always tags along behind him.


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Sanrio introduced the lovable Pochacco in 1989. Pochacco's birthday is February 29th-yep he's a leap year pup. Pochacco is the popular purebred in the neighborhood because he is the best basketball player and goalie on the playground. What's cool about Pochacco is that he's a vegetarian. Instead of doggie bones, he prefers carrots and banana ice cream. Another great character is Pekkle, the duck, introduced in 1989. Pekkle's birthday is July 27th. He's a funny, wannabe lifeguard from Australia who can't swim. He is a very loyal and devoted to his girlfriend Ruby and his aquatic companion, Pich the fish. He also has a talent for dancing and body surfing. He prefers to spend his time at the beach with Ruby and Pich.

The rebel in the Sanrio family is Badtz Maru, the mischievous penguin. His birthday is April 1st and he celebrates the spirit of his birthday all year by constantly telling jokes and pulling pranks. He resides in Gorgeoustown with his mother and pinball-playing father. He is a first grade student at Gorgeous Academy. He takes his pet alligator Pochi everywhere. To bide his time before he can achieve greatness elsewhere, Badtz Maru rolls his eyes and makes fun of his life in Gorgeoustown. Each character represents and symbolizes a different stage of childhood.

The Little Twin Stars are perfect for young children and bring compassion, comfort and joy to the hearts of little kids. Hello Kitty, on the other hand, is an older child that has a life similar to many third graders. Kids can relate to the idea of seeking adventure and fun. Keroppi is at the stage when children begin to find out their individual abilities and want to seek their own identities. Pochacco is the cool kid that everyone wanted to be on the playground while Badtz Maru is the rebel that many of us envied with his mischievous and cool pranks. There are several reasons why, even as college students, Sanrio products still have a hold over us. They forever connect us to our childhood and bring back the days before we had to worry about differential equations. In addition, the products are cool because they feature the best parts of Japanese animation and design. And as Kathryn Lyall, a first year Biology major, said, "It's just something that even though you get older, you never grow out of Hello Kitty. It just appeals to all ages because it's just so cute."

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