Hunkerin': America's Most Boring Fad

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Okay, this actually happened. In 1959, a group of Sigma Chi brothers at the University of Arkansas elevated squatting to a sport -- and it went viral. They invented a supremely lame (but apparently popular) fad: hunkerin'. From the Scottish term "hunkers" ("haunches" to the rest of us), hunkerin' is what most of us would call squatting: sitting on the balls of your feet. What's bizarre is that the practice apparently spread throughout the south for a few years, primarily on college campuses...if LIFE Magazine is to be believed.

From the truly wonderful Wikipedia page on hunkerin' (emphasis added):

The fad spread first to Missouri, Mississippi and Oklahoma, then across the U.S. While males were the predominant hunkerers, it was reported that female hunkerers were welcomed. Within months, regional hunkerin' competitions were being held to discover champion hunkerers.

Considered by authorities as preferable to the craze of the previous year, phonebooth stuffing, people hunkered for hours on car roofs, in phone booths and wherever people gathered. Life referred to it as "sociable squatting." Different styles of hunkerin' were reported as "sophisticates" tended to hunker flatfooted while others hunkered with their elbows inside the knees.

Reasons for the popularity of hunkerin' included the ability for large groups of people to participate together peacefully to discuss issues such as politics or sport. When asked about the popularity of hunkerin', one hunkerer said hunkerin' was "A respite from a world of turmoil. The main purpose of hunkerin' is to get down and hunker together. It's a friendship thing: get your friends to hunker with you. The man you don't know is the man you haven't hunkered with."

By 1960 hunkerin' was less common.

LIFE's list of hunkerin' styles

You can read a bit more about hunkerin' from LIFE Magazine (via Google Books).

Did You Hunker?

Practitioners of hunkerin' with long memories, please educate me. Was this really a thing in the 50s, or is this just a wonderful joke perpetrated by LIFE?

(Via A Continuous Lean.)

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March 14, 2012 - 11:25am
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