Katjes-Kinder (A Mystery)

So I would like to enlist the help of anyone who will assist me in unraveling this linguistic conundrum:  As some may know, a few months ago Nick and I got a little black kitten from the Humane Society shelter.  His name at the shelter was Kinder and we later changed it to Jeffrey, as we thought it suited him better.  I had no idea what the name Kinder meant or where it came from, and whether it had been given to him by the shelter staff or his previous owners.  The latter seems unlikely, since he was abandoned in a box and I somehow don't think a person who would leave a cat on a doorstep would necessarily take the trouble to attach a name tag.  But who knows?  Anyhow, today we were walking around in World Market and glimpsed this bag of what looked like German licorice candy called Katjes Kinder.  On the bag, the candy was depicted as being in the shape of a black cat.  So we were like "whoa," and I was like "huh."  Yes, this is precisely what happened.

I researched it when we got home and it turns out that Katjes is a German candy company and this is one of their confections.  But I haven't been able to find (so far) why this candy is in the shape of a cat.  According to Word Reference, "kinder" in German means either "children" or "My goodness!"  And "katjes" is the Dutch word for "little cat," according to the candy company in question.  What I'm trying to figure out, though, is whether the person who named Jeffrey initially was perhaps familiar with this candy and named him for it, or if there is some other obvious connection between "kinder" and cats, or more precisely black cats, because it just seems like too much of a coincidence.  I'm going to do some more looking into this, and if anyone with insider knowledge (perhaps someone who speaks German) would like to throw me a rope, I'll buy you some licorice kitties as a thank-you present.


  1. I would bet that there are some fairly well-educated people working at the Madison animal shelter (there are fairly well-educated people all over town). Maybe one is a German grad student or their intellectual parents had a penchant for obscure European sweets. Or they are just cycling through all of the words for "child" in every language to name the kitties they get.

  2. I would like to think that he was actually named after an obscure European sweet. That way he has his own line of candy!