Why do we wear balls on our hats?
January 11, 2018 2:19 PM   Subscribe

A brief history of the pom-pom. (Blame the Vikings, via Napoleon and maybe Michael Nesmith).
posted by Helga-woo (30 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
That's funny, I blame Italian tourists in Amsterdam.
posted by humboldt32 at 2:53 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


I blame the tam o'shanter.
posted by GuyZero at 3:08 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


I was asking myself this question yesterday, so this is very timely for me.
posted by another zebra at 3:29 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


And then, according to an astounding number of websites, pom-pom hats (or “bobble” hats) had another rise in popularity in the ’60s because Michael Nesmith, from The Monkees, wore a pom-pom hat. This seems wrong to me...

That's because Nesmith is clearly wearing a toque in the accompanying image.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:39 PM on January 11 [5 favorites]


Sooooo, my distant ancestors didn't wear horns on their heads...they wore pom-poms.

I like it.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:43 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]


Excellent post, and excellent use of the "chapeau" tag. But I'm biased because "chapeau" is high on my list of words I enjoy saying aloud.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:44 PM on January 11 [6 favorites]


That, my friend, is clearly a bobble hat.

What did they call those things where the pom-pom had self-adhesive feet and googly eyes, and a ribbon thing with a place name on it? I can remember people having thousands of those little tribble-things stuck on the dashboards of their cars back in the 80s...
posted by pipeski at 3:45 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]


Why do we wear balls on our hats?

because we are FAAAABULOUS
posted by roger ackroyd at 3:46 PM on January 11 [6 favorites]


toque

I've updated the tags. And added in beanie, which to my mind should be bobble-less, but an image search suggests I'm mistaken.
posted by Helga-woo at 3:49 PM on January 11


That, my friend, is clearly a bobble hat.

The colonies beg to differ.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:51 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


So, it's to distract from the erect penis?

Very. Effective. Pom.

Sorry, I'll keep reading....
posted by amanda at 4:03 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


Oh man, Kelly Conaboy is great. If you enjoyed this at all, you owe it to yourself to check out her scented candle reviews on the hairpin.
posted by Berreggnog at 4:12 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


I'm a knitter and I put pompoms on hats made with bulky yarns because otherwise, when you run the yarn tail through the last few stitches to finish off the crown of the hat, it forms a tightly puckered sphincter that just really deserves to be pompom-ed over.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 4:43 PM on January 11 [23 favorites]


Obvious answer is obvious:
“A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything.”
posted by sapere aude at 5:02 PM on January 11 [11 favorites]


I was once told that they were originally intended to protect the head from bumps and that they continue to exist basically out of habit, e.g. a knit hat w/o a pom-pom seems incomplete.

In light of what I've learned here, the fact that I had accept that without question—for decades, no less—is disturbing.
posted by she's not there at 5:03 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


Good crikey, can't something just be for fun?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:06 PM on January 11 [5 favorites]


I've updated the tags. And added in beanie, which to my mind should be bobble-less, but an image search suggests I'm mistaken.

Beanies get a propellor or nothing.
posted by rodlymight at 5:14 PM on January 11 [5 favorites]


We knew my husband's Nanna was going to come good from her recent fall and scare when she asked if she could knit him anything. (Knitting is her thing, except when she is too weak- she said "no more knitting" when we saw her in hospital.) She insisted on putting a pompom on the beanie. :)
posted by freethefeet at 5:44 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


Funny. I grew up in MN, and everybody had hats like that - and they were called tossel caps/hats. A toque didn't have the tossel, and if had a bill, it was a cap, not a hat.

Pom-poms were what cheerleaders used. Hats used tossels.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:52 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


...when you run the yarn tail through the last few stitches to finish off the crown of the hat, it forms a tightly puckered sphincter that just really deserves to be pompom-ed over.

So the pom-pom basically detracts from your naughty bits?

Totally understandable that you would want people to focus on your fabulous pom-pom rather than an erect penis or your sphincter (puckered or loose.)
posted by BlueHorse at 5:59 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


Pom-pon. With an “n.” That’s how I learned it, and I was implicitly taught to look down on anyone who spelled it or said it incorrectly. Because that was my mom. Take something meaningless and assign class and worth to knowing it.

I thought I was past that ridiculously prescriptive and judgmental stage of my life, but I had a visceral reaction to both the article and this thread that no one spelled it that way. (I mean, the article mentioned the etymology, but then ignores it and spells it with an “m” anyway.)

I’m gonna go meditate on my own failings and compassion and stuff now.
posted by greermahoney at 6:42 PM on January 11 [10 favorites]


I enjoyed this article a lot even though the conclusion seemed not to be too far away from “I nunno”
posted by aubilenon at 8:03 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


That's either a lousy article about an interesting subject or an interesting article about a lousy subject, and I can't tell which.
posted by yhbc at 10:09 PM on January 11 [5 favorites]


I have doubts about M. Nesmith influencing us to wear stocking hats with pom-poms (sorry, greermahoney) on them. As a child, I thought he should know better than to wear a stocking hat at all when it was obviously warm, and I disdained him for doing so. He wasn't helped by my dislike of pom-poms on stocking hats. When I was seven, my mother got my younger brother and me thick, bright red stocking hats with huge pom-poms that could easily be seen long before their wearers could. My brother liked his, but I was humiliated. My mother could not see her way to cutting off the offending appendage, and I was too well-behaved to do it myself. No one ever mocked me for wearing this hat, but I dreaded putting it on all the same. Now I refuse to wear a hat at all during winter. Earmuffs or an ear band.

I, too, don't believe that TFA answered the question of where pom-poms on stocking hats come from, but it is an interesting historical tour that shows us that people have been befouling their headgear and other apparel with these silly things for far longer than I would have guessed.
posted by bryon at 1:55 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]


What did they call those things where the pom-pom had self-adhesive feet and googly eyes, and a ribbon thing with a place name on it?
I knew these as “warm fuzzies,” after The Original Warm Fuzzy Tale by Claude Steiner. You're not the only one who remembers the be-ribboned ones for sale in the 1980s.
posted by mbrubeck at 8:51 AM on January 12 [5 favorites]


What did they call those things where the pom-pom had self-adhesive feet and googly eyes, and a ribbon thing with a place name on it? I can remember people having thousands of those little tribble-things stuck on the dashboards of their cars back in the 80s...

there IS a name for them and I knew this once argh. Google is saying logobugs, but I definitely once learned a twee word for them. Not a weepul/weeple/wuppie/wuppet either. Or a gonk. Damn it.
posted by lokta at 8:55 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]


Absolutely despised pom-poms on the tops of my knitted hats as a kid. First chance I got I would cut them off, much to the dismay of my mother who thought them fashionable. Still to this day I prefer un-embellished hats.
posted by PJMoore at 9:17 AM on January 12 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: it forms a tightly puckered sphincter that just really deserves to be pompom-ed over.
posted by Splunge at 9:44 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]


People disagreeing with the article or the very investigation seem not to have read the article, which shrugs every claim off with "haha what okay I'll go with that even though it's pretty obviously wrong" and finishes with "conclusion: stuff and things".
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 3:17 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


This still doesn't answer why we wear hats on our ba...sorry, misread it. Nevermind.
posted by Cookiebastard at 8:07 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


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