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Flip Flop Facts

Want to impress your family, friends and coworkers with your vast knowledge of flip flop facts?  Then you have come to the right place, fellow flip flop fiend.

1. According to Ancient Egyptian murals, the earliest use of flip flops occurred  around 4,000 B.C.  (The earliest documented use of footwear was during the Stone Age, about 15,000 years ago.)

egyptian thong sandals

Pair of leather thong sandals from the New Kingdom of Egypt (ca. 1550–1307 B.C.) Courtesy of Wikipedia 2014

2. The earliest pair of flip flops, from between 1550 B.C. and 1307 B.C. were unearthed in Europe and made of papyrus leaves.

3. Flip flops are usually made from rubber, foam, plastic, leather, suede, hemp, recycled materials or even yoga mats. Here are some of the other materials used to make flip flops throughout the world:

  • Ancient Egypt: papyrus and palm leaves
  • Masai in Africa: rawhide
  • India: wood
  • China and Japan: rice straw
  • South America: leaves of sisal plant to make twine
  •  Mexico: yucca plant

4. The Ancient 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.

 5. India has a relative to the flip flop called a Kolhapuri chappal, meaning “toe knob”.  Kolhapuris (named for the location they originated) have T-straps with a loop around the toe.

The oldest Indian footwear, called Paduka, has no straps and only a small knob that sits between the 1st and 2nd toes.

Kolhapur_chappal flip flop facts

Pair of Kolhapur Chappals. Courtesy of Wikipedia 2014

Paduka flip flop facts

Pair of paduka, similar to the ones worn by Saints. Courtesy of Wikipedia 2014

6. Flip flops are known by many other names:

  • Zori: Japanese sandals with a wooden thong made of rice straw or other plant fibers, cloth, wood or leather
  • Thongs: Commonly used in Australia, the word “thong” is derived from 12th Century Middle English and means “a strip, especially of leather or hide”
  • Jandals: The Kiwi people adopted this term from a combination of the words “Japanese” and “sandal” after being introduced to the footwear during World War II
  • Go aheads: A nickname that originated when cheap, plastic flip flops were being mass produced and people felt that it was almost impossible to walk backwards in them
  • Schlapfen: German, meaning “slipper” or “house shoe”
  • Tsinelas: Filipino, usually referring to flip flops made of synthetic resin
  • Hawai chappal: Used in India and Pakistan, Hindustani for “air sandal”
  • Slops: South African
  • dép tông or dép xỏ ngónVietnamese
  • Chinelos: Brazilian
  • Japonki: Polish
  • Sayonares: Greek
  • Djapanki: Bulgarian
  • Vietnamki: Russia and Ukraine
  • Dacas: Somalian
  • Tongs: Cambodian
modern day zori flip flop facts

Pair of modern day zori. Courtesy of Wikipedia 2014

7. Flip flops became popular in America after soldiers returned from World War II with Japanese zori.  By the 1950’s, they were being mass produced in bright colors and worn all over the country.  Eventually, they became associated with beach goers and a laid back lifestyle.

8. Though it is hard to determine exact figures, it is believed that flip flop production is approximately a $20 billion industry. In 2006, flip flop sales surpassed athletic shoe sales for the first time.

9. The correct spelling is “flip-flops” with a hyphen.

Do you know any fun flip flop facts I missed?  Let me know in the comments!

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