The Coward Shoe

In 1866, cobbler James S. Coward opened a store in New York City. He named it after himself, and he referred to the shoes he sold as "Coward shoes".

Despite the odd name, his business did extremely well. In fact, it endured almost to the present. As of 2014, the company had both a twitter and facebook page. But their website now redirects to Old Pueblo Traders whom, I'm guessing, must have acquired them.

The Keyport Weekly - Apr 23, 1892

Boston Globe - Sep 20, 1927

Posted By: Alex - Wed Nov 25, 2020 - Comments (4)
Category: Odd Names, Shoes

The drift pattern of Nike shoes

In May 1990, five shipping containers holding approximately 80,000 pairs of Nike shoes fell off a freighter during a storm in the North Pacific. About 200 days later, some of these shoes began to wash up on beaches from Canada down to Oregon.

But as beachcombers collected and compared the shoes, they noticed something odd. On beaches up north, in Canada and Washington, almost all the shoes were right-footed; whereas further south in Oregon, most of the shoes were left-footed.

Skye Moody explains why this was so in her book Washed Up: The Curious Journeys of Flotsam and Jetsam:

The slight toe curvature of left- and right-footed shoes caused the right-footed shoes to tack northeastward into the Alaska Current, passing the Queen Charlottes along the way, where many beached. Meanwhile, the left-footed Nikes tacked snugly into the southeast-bound California Current, and as it passed Oregon, were caught on an incoming tide.

Drift pattern of Nike shoes
image source: The Nike Shoe Investigation

Oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer co-authored an academic paper about the 1990 shoe spill ("Shoe spill in the North Pacific" -- unfortunately behind a paywall). It also inspired him to start studying other ocean flotsam, such as rubber duckies, as a way to gain info about currents. He calls this study 'flotsametrics'. He also occasionally puts out a Beachcombers' Alert Newsletter.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jun 16, 2020 - Comments (0)
Category: Science, Shoes, 1990s

Social Distancing Shoes

Created by Romanian shoemaker Grigore Lup. More info from

According to Lup, when two persons are wearing the shoes and facing each other, there will be 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) of distance between them. Each pair uses one square meter of leather — they can be fabricated in a number of colorways, with either rubber or leather soles — and it takes Lup two days to craft each style. On his website, he charges a minimum of 500 lei, or roughly $115, per pair, with prices going up for extra-long styles.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jun 05, 2020 - Comments (8)
Category: Shoes

Shoe Gongs

Anthony Faranda of Yonkers, NY worried that children didn't like wearing rubber-soled shoes because they made no noise when walking on a pavement. So, he invented a shoe gong. Or, as he called it, a "footwear actuated noise maker." He patented it in 1957.

It was a disc and clapper that could be worn over shoes. He explained: "The arrangement is such that upon normal walking steps or running strides the clapper is activated to make noise and thereby promote the interest of children in wearing shoes with soles that do not make an audible sound in engaging firm or rigid surfaces."

Maybe kids would have liked these, but not, I imagine, their parents.

He assigned the patent to the NY advertising agency McCann-Erickson. It's unclear what plans they might have had for these things.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Feb 16, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Inventions, Shoes, 1950s

Gaming Shoes

Newly released by Puma: "Active Gaming Footwear" — so that your shoes don't hold you back while you're playing computer games.

Some of the touted benefits:

Medial wrap-up grip in SEEK mode
Lateral wrap-up support in ATTACK mode
Heel wrap-up stability in CRUISE and DEFENSE mode

I have no idea what any of that means (though I'm not a gamer... maybe it would make perfect sense if I was).

Posted By: Alex - Sat Dec 21, 2019 - Comments (4)
Category: Shoes

Slimming Insoles

Created by Dr. Robert Metz, Slimming Insoles were advertised as “the first and only massage insole in the world which reduces weight and regulates the digestion system.”

Here’s a link to the 1997 FTC complaint against Metz and his company. It noted that, “In truth and in fact, scientific studies do not demonstrate that Slimming Insoles cause significant weight loss without changes in diet or exercise."

And yet, Slimming Insoles are still being sold. I'm not sure if Dr. Metz himself is selling them. But you can buy some at Amazon, and they make specific claims about causing weight loss: "These slimming magnets emit magnetic waves which weaken fat cells in your body... Lose weight by walking with magnetic insoles."

St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Mar 3, 1996

Posted By: Alex - Wed Dec 04, 2019 - Comments (1)
Category: Shoes, 1990s, Dieting and Weight Loss

An improved container for shoe polish

Carl Herold of Pittsburgh didn't think it made sense to sell shoe polish in tin containers, because the containers were so expensive that they added substantially to the cost of the shoe polish. So, back in 1872, he came up with a solution, which he patented: pack shoe polish in animal guts.

The object of my invention is to provide a cheap and convenient mode or means for packing the ordinary shoe-blacking of commerce, which is now almost universally put up in shallow tin boxes, which, being expensive, comparatively, greatly enhances the price of the blacking thus packed... My improvement consists in putting shoe-blacking upon the market packed in the guts of animals, which will add but a trifle to the cost of the blacking.

Figure 1 is an elevation of a package of blacking put up in accordance with my invention. Fig. 2 is a transverse section thereof...

The blacking is packed in suitable lengths of animal guts A, which are then firmly tied up at both ends, presenting the appearance of a sausage. Each package should be wrapped in paper to prevent the grease or oil upon the outer surface of the package from soiling the hands in handling it. The blacking thus packed will retain its moisture, and consequently remain in a proper plastic state for a great length of time. In this condition it may be sold by the pound, each purchaser or user providing himself with a small saucer or other shallow vessel into which to empty portions of the package from time to time for use.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Dec 01, 2019 - Comments (0)
Category: Inventions, Shoes, Nineteenth Century

Big Boot Dance

The performer is. Harry Relph, aka Little Tich. The performance was filmed at the 1900 Paris Exposition.

More info: wikipedia

Posted By: Alex - Sun Aug 04, 2019 - Comments (2)
Category: ShowBiz, Theater and Stage, Vaudeville, Shoes, 1900s

Peanut Sneakers

A little over a month ago we posted about croissant sneakers. Food-themed sneakers are apparently the big new thing, because Planters Peanuts has now debuted peanut sneakers, retailing for $170.

And not to be outdone, Ruffles Chips has introduced limited-edition Ruffles sneakers.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jun 29, 2019 - Comments (0)
Category: Food, Shoes

Croissant Sneakers

Odd collaboration: Sneaker brand Koio has partnered with pastry chef Dominique Ansel to produce croissant-themed sneakers. According to Fast Company:

This may be the first-ever sneaker collaboration with a baker. And it is certainly the only sneaker inspired by a croissant on the market... The sneaker’s upper is made of calf leather that has the texture of eggshells, flour-white suede, patent leather the color of yellow butter, and detailing on the toe and heel that looks like sugar. To top everything off, the laces come adorned with a rose-gold croissant accent.

They can be yours for only $348. Oh, and each pair also comes with a package of Dominique Ansel pancake mix.

Posted By: Alex - Tue May 14, 2019 - Comments (0)
Category: Fashion, Shoes, Food

Page 1 of 6 pages  1 2 3 >  Last ›

weird universe thumbnail
Who We Are
Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

Contact Us
Monthly Archives
November 2020 •  October 2020 •  September 2020 •  August 2020 •  July 2020 •  June 2020 •  May 2020 •  April 2020 •  March 2020 •  February 2020 •  January 2020

December 2019 •  November 2019 •  October 2019 •  September 2019 •  August 2019 •  July 2019 •  June 2019 •  May 2019 •  April 2019 •  March 2019 •  February 2019 •  January 2019

December 2018 •  November 2018 •  October 2018 •  September 2018 •  August 2018 •  July 2018 •  June 2018 •  May 2018 •  April 2018 •  March 2018 •  February 2018 •  January 2018

December 2017 •  November 2017 •  October 2017 •  September 2017 •  August 2017 •  July 2017 •  June 2017 •  May 2017 •  April 2017 •  March 2017 •  February 2017 •  January 2017

December 2016 •  November 2016 •  October 2016 •  September 2016 •  August 2016 •  July 2016 •  June 2016 •  May 2016 •  April 2016 •  March 2016 •  February 2016 •  January 2016

December 2015 •  November 2015 •  October 2015 •  September 2015 •  August 2015 •  July 2015 •  June 2015 •  May 2015 •  April 2015 •  March 2015 •  February 2015 •  January 2015

December 2014 •  November 2014 •  October 2014 •  September 2014 •  August 2014 •  July 2014 •  June 2014 •  May 2014 •  April 2014 •  March 2014 •  February 2014 •  January 2014

December 2013 •  November 2013 •  October 2013 •  September 2013 •  August 2013 •  July 2013 •  June 2013 •  May 2013 •  April 2013 •  March 2013 •  February 2013 •  January 2013

December 2012 •  November 2012 •  October 2012 •  September 2012 •  August 2012 •  July 2012 •  June 2012 •  May 2012 •  April 2012 •  March 2012 •  February 2012 •  January 2012

December 2011 •  November 2011 •  October 2011 •  September 2011 •  August 2011 •  July 2011 •  June 2011 •  May 2011 •  April 2011 •  March 2011 •  February 2011 •  January 2011

December 2010 •  November 2010 •  October 2010 •  September 2010 •  August 2010 •  July 2010 •  June 2010 •  May 2010 •  April 2010 •  March 2010 •  February 2010 •  January 2010

December 2009 •  November 2009 •  October 2009 •  September 2009 •  August 2009 •  July 2009 •  June 2009 •  May 2009 •  April 2009 •  March 2009 •  February 2009 •  January 2009

December 2008 •  November 2008 •  October 2008 •  September 2008 •  August 2008 •  July 2008 •