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Flip-Flops Have Been Around For Thousands Of Years, But Weren’t Called Flip-Flops When?

Each year on the third Friday in June, it is National Flip-Flop Day!  Find your flip-flops and wear them!

This unofficial holiday is celebrated every third Friday of June. It was founded in 2007 by Tropical Smoothie Café to raise money for Camp Sunshine – a camp that supports children with life-threatening illnesses. Customers who visit the café wearing flip-flops receive a free smoothie and, for each customer, the company donates to help the cause.

In 2015, $1 million was raised by Tropical Smoothie Cafe for Camp Sunshine. The website historydaily.org reports Americans spent over $2.5 billion on flip-flops in 2017.

  • 15000 BC -Footwear similar to the current flip flop is documented to have been in use during the Stone Age.
  • 4000 BC – Evidence on paintings and carvings shows ancient Egyptians wearing sandals.
  • 1550 BC – The earliest pair of flip-flops, from between 1550 B.C. and 1307 B.C., were found in Europe and were made of papyrus leaves.
  • 794 BC – The Japanese Heian period sees the creation of a flip-flop-type sandal called the ‘zori’.
  • 1945 – Seeking to reverse its economic problems after WWII, Japan establishes an industry to replicate its simple yet cheap footwear
  • 1945 – In America, they first started to appear after World War II as soldiers brought Japanese ‘zori’ (their word for flip-flops) back from the war, as souvenirs.
  • 1950s – Flip flops are increasingly used in the developed world with a modern design.
  • 1960s – The word ‘flip flop’ is now used in American and British English to describe this sandal is used exclusively in casual situations.
  • 1972 – The name flip-flops takes its origins from the sound these shoes make while walking. This term has been used in American and British English since 1972.
  • 2005 – Flip-flops caused a White House controversy in 2005. The Northwestern University women’s lacrosse team sparked a national “kerfuffle” when several players wore flip-flops to meet President Bush. After fashion experts called the shoes inappropriate, the athletes auctioned them off to benefit a young fan with cancer.
  • 2007 – The American restaurant chain, Tropical Smoothie Cafe creates National Flip Flop Day
  • 2010 – Thanks to the shoes’ open nature, flip-flop wearers take smaller steps than their sneaker-clad friends, according to a 2010 study by Auburn University. 
  • 2011 – then-president Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to be photographed wearing flip-flops.
  • 2014 – Americans spent more than $2.5 billion on just this one variety of footwear, making flip-flops the best-selling sandal in the country.
  • 2017 – The website historydaily.org reports Americans spent more than $2.5 billion on flip-flops in 2017.
  • Throughout the centuries, ancient populations wore flip-flops in different ways.
    • The Greeks wore the toe strap between their 1st and 2nd toes,
    • the Ancient Romans wore the strap between the 2nd and 3rd toes,
    • the Mesopotamians wore the strap between the 3rd and 4th toes.
  • Flip-Flops Got Their Name Through Onomatopeia. Onomatopeia — the process of naming something by using a word that phonetically resembles the sound it describes or the sound of the object being named.
  • If you thought that running in flip-flops was impossible, think again. The Tarahumaras, a tribe living in Mexico’s Copper Canyons, run hundreds of miles across woods and on rocky terrain wearing only Huaraches, self-made sandals very similar to flip flops.
  • Keith Lavasseur, a man from Maryland, ran the 26-mile Baltimore marathon while wearing black Reef sandals. He finished in 29th place out of more than 3000 participants and it took him 2 hours, 46 minutes and 58 seconds to finish the marathon.
  • The most expensive flip-flops cost a whopping $18,000! The shoes were painted by famous Los Angeles Artist David Palmer, and they are adorned with a hand-made 18-carat solid gold emblem of the brand that produced them, Chipkos.
  • As a cheap item of footwear, kids soon started to wear them to the pool and on holiday in bright colors with flowers and motifs adorning them.
  • The correct spelling is “flip-flops” with a hyphen.
  • While we call them flip-flops, here are other names for the footwear from around the world:
    • Tongs – Cambodia
    • Dacas – Somalia
    • Vietnamki – Ukraine & Russia
    • Djapanki – Bulgaria
    • Sayonares – Greece
    • Japonki – Poland
    • Chinelos – Brazil
    • Slops – South Africa
    • Schalpfen – Germany
    • Zori – Japan
    • Thongs – Australia
  • Flip flops can occasionally be found in the lyrics of songs, but only one song (so far) has mentioned America’s favorite footwear in the title of the song. Country artist Kenny Chesney included the song, “Flip Flop Summer” on his ninth album, the 2005 The Road and the Radio album. Among the lyrics of this tune is the chorus that says, “It’s gonna be another flip-flop summer, kick off your shoes and call up your lover.” Elsewhere in the song, Chesney sings “We’re going to take us a long vacation, mix us up some strong libations. No worries, just good vibrations, and lazy days in style. It’s a flip-flop summer, it’s a flip-flop summer.”


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