May 11, 2006

Willing Water

Reddy-Kilowatt has a cousin of sorts. His name is Willing Water, a.k.a. "Willie". While Reddy was pushing electricity, Willie was busy with the water customers.

He was created in the late 1940s by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) as an advertising character for use by member water utilities in their public relations campaigns. The cartoon icon was used extensively during the 1950s and 1960s. Gradually, his popularity faded and the icon was retired by the AWWA during the 1980s.

Retired or not, many water utilities today still use Willie, particularly in educational material for children.

How "Willing Water" Cooks (1966, 24 pp) is one example of how the character was used in some of the promotional material. It's a recipe booklet that was published by the AWWA, and in this particular case, it was used by the Public Water Department of the City of Akron, which is prominently featured on the rear cover.

There are several recipes, hints for using water in cooking and food preparation, and a short section on camping. Barbara A. Nicholas, a food editor for the San Jose Mercury-Sun, compiled the recipes and hints for this booklet.

It was possible for Willie to look slightly different at times, depending on where he was used. This was because the utilities were allowed to redraw him in different poses as long as they preserved his character. At the left is how Willing Water looks inside this cookbooklet.

Besides the recipes one would expect to find in a cookbooklet, there are several pages devoted to the great service that the water utility is providing to the public. Willie really piles it on in this case--the following is just from the first page:

"I am Willing Water, your obedient servant. Can you imagine living without me?..So many people take water for granted, just like the air they breathe, that I have to keep reminding them all the time, just how important I am....When you serve your family these tantalizing foods, remember your friend, Willing Water, and the folks who bring him to you--the people responsible for your dependable water service, 24 hours a day."

As a totally coincidental aside: the City of Akron water department could use some positive PR these days. Their water has tasted and smelled absolutely vile for the last several months. They claim it's safe to drink, but this frequent visitor is not convinced.

Maybe they should see about rehiring Willing Water.

Here's a recipe from the Camping section that I thought was cute:


Add WATER all at once to biscuit mix, stirring with stick into a soft dough. Dust hands generously with biscuit mix to prevent sticking and pick up a small piece of dough. Roll between the palms of your hands to shape into a strip about the size of your little finger, 4 or 5 inches long. Heat a peeled green stick over the fire (willow is good for this). Wind a strip of dough spirally around the stick, pinching tightly at each end to hold in onto the stick. Bake over hot coals, turning to bake evenly. With a good bed of coals, the bread will bake in just a few minutes and slip easily off the stick. Serve with jam or butter.


At 7:47 PM CDT, Blogger The Kitten said...

I think Willing Water is adorable. It's characters like him that can sucker me in everytime.


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