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CatBread (also known as “Kitty Loaf”, “Kitty Bread”, “Cat Loaf” and “Neko-Pan”) is a character from a Japanese children’s book which is often used as an avatar in discussion forums online. The character became widespread on the English-speaking web in 2004 after a GIF animation of the character was featured in a YTMND page created by the site’s founder Max Goldberg.
The character “Neko-Pan” (猫パン) was first introduced through the Japanese children’s book Catbread and Cardboard Box (猫パン と だんぼーる君), written and illustrated by author Hirose Takuro and self-published via his webpage in 2000. According to Takuro, the book was originally made using a web application by the printer corporation Hewlett-Packard.
On December 23rd, 2002, the earliest known discussion about the character on the English-speaking web was posted in a Neo-Geo forum thread titled “What is the Origin of Kitty Loaf?” by user MegaDrive20XX. In the post, the user referred to the character as “Kitty Loaf,” which became adopted as its unofficial name in English language. One of Takuro’s icons was posted to the website e-thug.net as early as May 24th, 2004, before making its way to the to the Magic: The Gathering website MTGNews. On March 6th, 2004, an Urban Dictionary definition was submitted for “Kitty bread” by user Penny, noting e-thug.net as its origin.
On April 23rd, 2004, the YTMND page “CuppyCake” was created by YTMND founder Max Goldberg, which featured the Cat Bread animated GIF accompanied by the song “Cuppycake Gumdrops”. On January 9th, 2005, a thread was posted on the MTG Salvation forums by sneakyhomuncolus, which inquired about the cat’s origins and included several photos of Catbread and Cardboard Box promotional toys.
On February 16th, 2006, the techno-culture blog BoingBoing published a post titled “Cuppycake Gumdrops Snookums” about the original YTMND site and mentioned Nekopan’s Japanese origins. On March 25th, 2007, the domain was registered for the Nekopan web comics site Nekopan Bakery. On November 16th, 2008, a photo of a kitty loaf t-shirt (shown left) was uploaded to the photo sharing website Flickr. On March 31st, 2009, a Nekopan bead sprite image (shown right) was submitted to a thread in the pixel art forums Pixel Gasm.
On December 27th, 2010, Nekopan was featured in a post on the art blog Awesome Robo, which included several fan arts of the character. On January 26th, 2011, the cat enthusiast blog Catsparella published a post titled “Cat Bread AKA Real Life Kitty Loaves” which featured several photos of bread decorated to look like cats.
The meme has since spread to sites like I Can Has Cheezburger, Tumblr and deviantArt. As of April 2nd, 2012, the original YTMND site has received over 25 million views, and a Facebook page for Nekopan has received 85 likes.
The original “CuppyCake” YTMND page spawned a series of imitations.
- CUPPYCAKE in reverse (64,000+ views)
- 3chan CUPPYCAKE GUMDROPS (44,000+ views)
- CUPPYCAKE GUMDROPS will eat your soul! (36,000+ views)
- Cuppycake Goes Home! (33,000+ views)
- Waves of Catloaf! (27,000+ views)
- COUNTRY CUPPYCAKE GUMDROPS (20,000+ views)
For more, read Cuppycake Gumdrops/ The Cuppycake Song entry.