Fanny Packs

Fanny Packs

Once upon a time, when it came to carrying your belongings with you, you basically had two choices – the pocket or the purse. Stuffing your pockets was uncomfortable, as was being tethered to a purse all day, especially at a place like an amusement park or the beach. The 80s offered a handy alternative that caught on like wildfire – the oft-maligned fanny pack. These hands-free containers were practical, comfortable, and for a short time at least, fashionable.

Fanny packs were a pocketed strap-on pouch that turned millions of Americans into wannabee marsupials. Their name is derived from where the device is supposed to rest on the body, one one’s derriere. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the thriving pickpocket industry to exploit the exposed pack, and wearers soon had to adjust by spinning the pouch around to the front if they wanted to keep a better eye on their valuable stuff.

At their height of popularity, one could find a fanny pack in every color and style. Companies soon realized that a well-placed logo on the pack turned the public at large into a walking billboard. Millions were handed out or sold as a result, and by the mid-80s, just about everyone was wearing one of these convenient carriers. They were a perfect place for keys, wallets, lip balm, candy, you name it. The days of emptying your pockets when you returned home were over. Simply unbuckle the trusty pack and hang it up and it would be right there waiting for you in the morning, ready for the adventures of a new day.

Law enforcement wasn’t particularly fond of fanny packs. Drug dealers often stored their wares, and sometimes firearms, in the convenient pouches, and their reputation became such that, if you had the misfortune of being stopped by a police officer, they were probably going to want to look in your fanny pack. But that isn’t what eventually spelled doom for the fanny pack; they simply became too popular, and as a result, the fashionistas turned on the device with a vengeance, labeling them low-brow and unsightly. Fanny packs became the butts of many a joke. Parody expert, Weird Al Yankovic, let his feelings be known in his song, “White and Nerdy.” In other words, just about the time that everyone in America had one in their possession, they became uncool to wear.

That’s not to say that they have disappeared completely. They may not be quite as fashionable, but they are just as practical as they ever were, and still offer the luxury of being able to walk, bike, or jog around unencumbered by bulging pockets. Fashion designers have made numerous attempts over the years to offer more upscale styles and revive the trend, but they have yet to recapture the popularity of their glory days, when this was a must-have item for seemingly every adult and child in the country.

Were you a proud wearer of a fanny pack back in the day. Do you still wear them in defiance of the fashion police? We’d love to hear all of your thoughts and recollections in our comments section below.

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