October 1, 2009

‘Tighty-whitey’ Jockeys turn 75

Tame as they may seem by today's standards, Jockey's tighty-whitey men's briefs caused quite the stir when they first came ut 75 years ago, the company says.

Imagine a world where boxer shorts and union suits are the only styles of men's underwear, the Kenosha, Wis., company said in a release. That was the case until 1934"¦. This new garment was ground-breaking, innovative, revealing and even daring.

As they celebrate their 75th birthday, tighty-whiteys remain one of the most popular styles of men's underwear -- though they now come in just about any color imaginable, not to mention fabrics including Spandex, Lyocell and mesh. And you can get them in 120 countries around the world.

Arthur Kneibler, an executive at a U.S. underwear company called Coopers Inc., got the idea for the briefs when he saw a postcard from -- where else? -- the French Riviera showing a guy wearing a bikini-style swimsuit.

A bit risque, and functional too, he thought: The original, with its jock strap-like functions -- hence the name -- would offer wearers more comfort and masculine support than other undergarments available at the time, Jockey says.

Though invented in 1934, the first pair of Jockeys sold at the Marshall Field & Co. store in Chicago Jan. 19, 1935. The entire stock sold out before noon, despite a blizzard that day.