Reddy Kilowatt is a branding character that acted as corporate spokesman for electricity generation in the US for some six decades.
Reddy Kilowatt is drawn as a stick figure whose body and limbs are made of "lightning-bolt" symbols and whose bulbous head has a light bulb for a nose and wall outlets for ears. Reddy was created at the Alabama Power Company by Ashton B. Collins, Sr., and debuted March 11, 1926. He was subsequently licensed by some 300 electrical companies in the US and abroad seeking to promote the new technology. He was featured in a 1947 comic book and movie produced by the studio of Walter Lantz. Reddy Kilowatt was a frequent presence in publicity material until energy conservation replaced energy production as a national goal with the growth of the environmental movement and the OPEC oil embargo. He is now rarely seen. In 1998, Reddy was bought by Northern States Power Company, which created a subsidiary, Reddy Kilowatt Corp., to manage the cartoon. That company later created Reddy Flame, a character promoting natural gas.
While Reddy Kilowatt was created as a mascot for investor-owned utilities, a similar character — Willie Wiredhand — was created about the same time for use by rural electric cooperatives and public utility districts (evidently, much to Collins' annoyance). Willie was also a stick figure, but with a lamp socket for a head, an electric plug for legs and feet, and wore gloves similar to those worn by farmers. Reddy's keeper of the time took Willie's owner, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, to court in 1957 over trademark infringement and lost because the court found the two characters distinctly different.
Reddy was parodied in an episode of the television show Roseanne, "That's Our Rosie", in which a doll version was used in a fake commercial for a utilities company that was pitched by Dan and DJ in the manner of the early days of television in the 1950s, when shows featured the performers promoting their sponsor's products.
The Facilities Maintenance arm of Temple University in Philadelphia typically applies Reddy's image to vehicles equipped to perform high voltage maintenance work within the university.
On the first album by The Grateful Dead, Phil Lesh referred to himself as Phil "Reddy Kilowatt" Lesh. He also used an image of Reddy Kilowatt on Phil Lesh and Friends tour posters and has subsequently used the alias Reddy Kilowatt regularly on Grateful Dead related message boards and on music sharing sites.
- Earlier renditions used a two-hole, NEMA-1 style receptacle; later, 3-hole NEMA-5-style grounded receptacles were represented.
- Reddy Kilowatt at Toonopedia
- XCEL ENERGY INC - XEL Annual Report (10-K) EXHIBIT 2.06
- Willie Wiredhand at Toonopedia
- 240 F2d 282 Reddy Kilowatt v. Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative
- U.S. Patent D94,261
- U.S. Patent D112,515
- U.S. Patent D113,704
- U.S. Patent D115,977
- U.S. Patent 2,349,706
- Web sites