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When Coonskin Caps Were Cool

Coonskin caps were used by Native Americans and pioneers to keep heads warm for hundreds of years, but the fashion faded out in the 20th century. The big exception was in the 1950s, when the furry caps were all the rage. If you can immediately say why, then you are likely older than most of the internet generation.

At the time, Walt Disney was trying to find a way to finance the construction of Disneyland, his grand theme park. In 1954, eager to raise funds, he signed a deal for a television series with ABC, and launched a serial titled “Davy Crockett,” chronicling the life and times of the famous frontiersman who’d died at the Battle of the Alamo. “It’s time to get acquainted, or renew acquaintance with, the robust, cheerful, energetic and representative folk heroes," Disney said in a press statement. “Who better than Davy?”

Airing in five one-hour installments from December 1954 to December 1955, the show was insanely popular: Nearly 12 million viewers tuned in to each episode, a full-length, color feature (Davy Crockett, King of the WIld Frontier) was released, and the show’s theme song -- “Ballad of Davy Crockett” -- rose to become a #1 Billboard hit:

Because Crockett wore a coonskin cap in the show, the coonskin craze took the nation by storm. It was led by children, but plenty of adults bought the caps, too, until a shortage of raccoons led to substitute furs. Read about the history of the coonskin cap, from native tribesmen to today, ay Pricenomics. -via Boing Boing

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