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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

On the Origins & Destinations of Flip-Flops

In a beach community the other day, where the majority of folks wear flip-flops from birth to death for no particular reason such as going to the shore itself, I asked one of our kids: “Who invented flip-flops, anyway?”

Maybe I would personally like to shoot them.

Turns out that sandals in general have been found in all sorts of archaeological sites, spanning thousands of years, but how about these particular ones? Well, they have been tracked to Mesopotamia, Rome and Greece. Funny thing is, the thong shows up between the first and second toe, the second and third, and the third and fourth, depending on where in the world you’re looking! And of course, the Indians have the big knob coming up on their sandals in the place of the two straps.

Fascinating.

After World War II, the Japanese sought to manufacture cheap goods to rebuild their economy. They had captured many natural resources such as rubber, so it made sense to use the traditional zori sandal, worn with socks (no, that was not started by beach octogenarians…!) as a point of departure. Returning American soldiers, who had been occupying Japan after the war, brought the cheap rubber sandals home to their wives and children as gifts. Originally called “thongs”, the name morphed into “flip-flop” sometime in the 1960s, given its sound as the wearer walked.

Due to their durability, the flip-flop lasts forever unless they split. Some of the thicker-soled models are shaped to the foot and cost upwards of $50 or $70. The cheapest are found in dollar stores, where they still make a profit.

Not only are the flip-flops the bane of schools that outlaw them for noise and tripping and unprotected toe-purposes, they have become the bane of landfills, where they never disappear and their colorful chemicals leach back into the sea.

So, if you’ve got a pair, wear them in good health, but only to appropriate places such as the beach.

And then continue wearing them… forever.

Thank you.

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