Monday, 18 February 2008


A Kiwi told Callum that it was a Kiwi who had invented the Jandal. Yes well. Seems an unlikely scenario given the fact that Jandals by one name or another are, and have been for thousands of years, worn all over the world. Callum's response was quite simple. It may take a Kiwi to invent the Jandal but it took a Scot to invent the sympiesometer (Alexander James Adie - 1775-1858) and build the first practical steamboat (William Symington - 1764-1831) to name but two of very many things. Mind you I seem to recall that Rutherford, the person instrumental in the development of the atomic bomb was a New Zealander. But perhaps we'll not mention that.

So what, you Angles, Saxons and Celts may ask, is a Jandal. Surely everyone knows what a Jandal is. In reality, the slip-on shoe made from an upside down Y-shaped piece of rubber affixed into soft elongated oval pads is only called a Jandal in New Zealand.

While they are one of the world’s most popular forms of footwear, they are called many wondrously different names depending on where in the world you are. The British and the Americans call them Flip Flops and of course they are Thongs in Australia. And that's just the tip of the English-speaking iceberg so to speak.

With so many names (See Wikipedia), you might wonder who created the Jandal. Ask that question in whatever country you happen to be in and they will tell you that it was probably the Australians. After all, the Thong is an Australian icon promoted loudly by Kylie Minogue who rode one into the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympic games. But the truth be told, they are not Australian.

Jandals, Flip Flops, thongs or whatever you call them were reputedly first created by a Kiwi in the early 1930s. But that’s not entirely true either, in fact only the rubber versions so common in everyone’s wardrobes today were first created in New Zealand. Interestingly, the Japanese have been using different versions for two thousand years, many of them woven and often including wooden bases – think the clog like shoes of the geisha in early Japanese history. Even before this, the Egyptians wore them as far back as 1200BC. So the 75 years they have been around in their rubber form is nothing compared to almost 3200 years of history in Northern Africa.

My Jandals
Teva Jandals: Anything but the basic jandal (nor the basic cost!)
Beach Jandals
"Dressy" Jandals (an oxymoron)

1 comment:

  1. Roman sandals also had wooden soles like the Greek and Egyptian ones. Apparently the noise as hundreds of sandals clopped over the marble and stone floors was deafening and a Roman Army on the march could be heard miles away if it was on a stone paved road!