Welcome to Fun Fact Friday, where we bring you a dose of trivia to brighten up your day!

Today's fun fact is all about sneakers - did you know they were initially made to sneak around quietly? That's right. These comfortable and stylish shoes were first designed to be stealthy.

It all started in the 1800s when people realized their hard-soled shoes were making too much noise on the floors of their homes and workplaces. Enter the plimsoll shoe with a soft rubber sole allowing wearers to move quietly. The name "plimsoll" comes from the line on the side of the shoe, which resembles the Plimsoll line on a ship's hull (orange area on the ship's hull in the image below).

Fishing ship in the harbur of Scheveningen, the Plimsoll line can be seen at the bottom in orange
Photo by Paul Einerhand / Unsplash

But it wasn't until the early 20th century that the term "sneaker" was coined. These new shoes had a flexible rubber sole ideal for sneaking up on someone - hence the name "sneaker." They were also much more comfortable than traditional dress shoes, making them popular for casual wear.

The word "sneaker" is attributed to American Henry Nelson McKinney, an advertising agent for N. W. Ayer & Son. In 1917, McKinney coined the term because the shoe’s rubber sole made the wearer stealthy.

Today, sneakers are worn by millions of people around the world, from athletes to fashionistas to everyday folks looking for comfortable and stylish shoes. And while sneakers may not be as quiet today, they still offer plenty of benefits - from supporting your feet during exercise to adding a pop of color to your outfit.

Speaking of athletes, only about 20% of athletic shoes are worn for their intended purpose.

If only 20% of athletic shoes are purchased for athletic endeavors, what are the other 80% purchased for? You guessed it, for sneaking around! Just kidding. Most sneakers are used as casual everyday shoes. However, many athletic footwear companies have caught on and now design "lifestyle" shoes specifically for casual wear.

So the next time you slip on a pair of sneakers, remember their humble beginnings as shoes designed for sneaking around quietly. And who knows - maybe you'll feel a little more stealthy as you go about your day!

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