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Background [1][2]Yuko Shimizu, creator of Hello Kitty, in 2010In 1962, Shintaro Tsuji, founder of Sanrio, began selling rubber sandals with flowers painted on them.[12] Tsuji noted the profits gained by adding a cute design to the sandals and hired cartoonists to design cute characters for his merchandise.[12] The company produced a line of character merchandise around gift-giving occasions.[13] Hello Kitty was designed by Yuko Shimizu and was added to the lineup of early Sanrio characters in 1974. The character's first appearance on an item was a vinyl coin purse in Japan where she was pictured sitting between a bottle of milk and a goldfish bowl.[14] She first appeared in the United States in 1976.[4][5]

Sanrio decided to make Hello Kitty British because at the time when she was created, foreign countries, in particular Britain, were trendy in Japan. In addition, Sanrio already had a number of characters set in the US and they wanted Hello Kitty to be different.[6][15] Shimizu got the name Kitty from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass, where in a scene early in the book Alice plays with a cat she calls Kitty.[16] Sanrio's motto is "social communication" and Tsuji wanted the brand name of the cat to reflect that. He first considered "Hi Kitty" before settling on "Hello" for the greeting.[17] Spokespeople for Sanrio have said that Hello Kitty does not have a mouth because they want people to "project their feelings onto the character" and "be happy or sad together with Hello Kitty."[18][6] Another explanation Sanrio has given for her lack of a mouth is that she "speaks from the heart. She's Sanrio's ambassador to the world and isn't bound to any particular language".[15] Representatives for Sanrio have said they see Hello Kitty as a symbol of friendship, and they hope she will encourage friendship between people across the world.[6] There has been some suggestion[by whom?] that Hello Kitty has its origins in Maneki Neko, and that the name Hello Kitty itself is a back-translation of Maneki Neko, which means beckoning catin English.

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