Illustration for article titled Hello Kitty Has Improbably Kept a Factory in Syria Open

Cartoon characters can perform lots of physics-defying sight gags. Sometimes, they can even cross over from Toon Town into the real-person world and cause portly private detectives no end of trouble. Or help Michael Jordan save Earth from aliens. Or scoop out large chunks of a child’s brain with all the practiced tenacity of a professional pumpkin-carver. They’re also capable of driving demand for merchandise so high that a factory embroidering Hello Kitty baby blankets can keep churning out goods in the middle of a civil war.

Before the Syrian civil war, Aleppo’s factories beat to the steady drum of global consumption. Now that the (mostly) opposition-controlled city has been shellacked with scud missiles, artillery bombardments, and air strikes, many of the city’s businesses that haven’t been reduced to rubble have been forced to suspend operations. Not so for a small, off-brand embroidery factory that, after a brief two-month hiatus, manages to keep making baby blankets featuring the (unlicensed) likenesses of Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse.


According to the Christian Science Monitor, the factory’s owner lives in a section of Aleppo that is still under government control, so he’s delegated most of the blanket-making oversight to his factory foreman. Though not all of Aleppo’s factories have been destroyed amid the civil strife, the blanket factory has been able to remain in operation due to high demand for knock-off Disney merchandise from, of all places, Iraq.

I’d like to think the fact that Mickey Mouse is, with just one of his gloved mouse-hands, keeping a factory open in a war-torn country would bring a smile to the cryogenically frozen head of Walt Disney, but I think we all know that he’d be really pissed that the factory was appropriating the image of his beloved rodent without his permission. Clearly, Walt Disney’s head is a humorless grump.


Image via AP

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