Monday, March 10, 2008

Hush Puppies and Superstars

I'm in the mood to reminisce today after reading that Hush Puppies is celebrating their golden anniversary this year. That reminded me about a pair of their shoes that I once owned. They were rust colored, suede, penny-loafers that I just couldn't wear out. I had those shoes for at least 20 years, which was a good thing since they were among my more expensive ones.

Have you owned a pair of Hush Puppies? I've always considered them more utilitarian than fashionable, and I bought them for that purpose. (Or maybe because I couldn't resist that soulful-eyed basset hound!) They were comfortable to wear. I didn't stop to consider if they were trendy, and I didn't care if other people were buying them or not, so I was surprised to read the following trivia about people who have worn them over the years.
Like Forrest Gump -- who wore a pair -- Hush Puppies have been part of many historic moments.

Future President Gerald R. Ford proudly presented a pair to then President Dwight Eisenhower. Decades later, Kevin Spacey and Nicholas Cage were wearing Hush Puppies when they collected their Academy Awards in 1996.

Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev invited the brand to be the first American company to do business in the Soviet Union.

They also have been just as popular with royalty and rock stars. England's Prince Phillip wore a pair when he visited the U.S. in 1959 -- and Princess Diana ordered a custom-made set.

The rubber soles of his Hush Puppies are credited with saving the life of Rolling Stone Keith Richards from electrocution during a 1965 concert in Sacramento.
The Beatles and Rolling Stones also wore Hush Puppies on their U.S. tours in the mid-1960s. I guess I'm not such a fashion nerd after all!

There's one other fact about Hush Puppies that you might not know. They're headquartered in Rockford, Michigan, where they originated. The shoes are now sold in 139 countries outside of the U.S. and production has moved overseas, but most of the design and marketing is still done in Rockford.

It's nice to know that a cultural icon like Hush Puppies has its roots in Michigan.

(Picture courtesy of Flickr)


abi said...

Hush Puppies were a little too classy for me. My favorite shoes were a pair of cheap loafers that I wore long past their natural life. They had gaping holes in the sides, holes in the soles (which was a real problem when I wasn't careful about crushing out a cigarette with my foot).

That was 35 years ago, and I still have them. My mother had them bronzed when I got married.

Lew Scannon said...

I may or may not have had a pair of Hush Puppies, I know I used to want them when I was younger, because of the dog.
I do know they are made here in Michigan and know a person who went to work there as a designer recently.

Kathy said...

Abi, I have to give your mother credit for having a great sense of humor. Has your wife had to deal with any other articles of clothing that you insisted on holding onto? My husband and I have had several "discussions" about his "favorite" clothes and where I thought they belonged over the years. :-)

Lew, I honestly think I bought those shoes in part because of that dog too. The logo at least got me to take a look at them, so it's been an effective marketing tool in my opinion.

abi said...

No, she doesn't say much as long as I'm the one who stitches my old faves together - which, in fact, I did just tonight.

Let your husband keep his comfy old clothes. It helps our husbandly egos to think we've won one of those "discussions" now and then. ;-)