The KEM brand has been around for over 70 years, starting production during the Great Depression. The proprietary manufacturing techniques developed by the company to make such a quality product meant KEM was the world’s first mass-produced all plastic playing card. Other companies have tried to match KEM’s standard of excellence over the years, but none have stood the test of time to effectively compete.
KEM developed a card made of cellulose acetate – and that meant the cards were not only bendable and washable but they would retain their shape long after more traditional paper based cards had had long since become worn, old and unusable. The particular polymer used in the KEM plastic gives their cards a distinctive texture, snap, and feel. And being plastic and washable, KEM Playing Cards were made to sustain even the roughest handling or accidents like a spilt beer from poker players or a glass of wine from bridge players.
But the sharpest increase in the popularity occurred during the Second World War. The company sent thousands of its decks to American soldiers in barracks across Europe to play whatever card game took their fancy. KEM cards set the standard for bridge design with the release of the KEM Bridge Grand Slam series. Some of KEM’s designs have become iconic (Maple Leaf, Arrow, Florence) and these have become symbols for bridge players the world over. Although the company changes it designs every few years some patterns like Maple Leaf and Arrow have been in the KEM catalogue for 70 years.
In 1964, KEM was selected to be the official playing card of the World Bridge Federation, further enhancing its reputation – and has been the card of choice at every world bridge championship since. KEM is also the most widely used playing card in the poker scene and in 1970 the company extended its range to include Poker Width cards for use in the World Series of Poker. Nowadays, KEM is a major sponsor on the American and European Professional Poker circuit.