Nike, the world’s largest athletic equipment company, had humble beginnings. Phil Knight, the company’s founder, sold shoes from the trunk of his car. An art student created the signature swoosh. The first waffle tread shoes were made with a waffle iron. That waffle iron has reappeared 40 years later. Did you know invented Nike’s waffle sole?
The “waffle sole,” one of the earliest and most iconic Nike shoe treads, was designed by Bill Bowerman by pouring rubber into his wife’s Belgian waffle iron.
Waffle Inspired Shoes
Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman was having breakfast with his wife one morning in 1971 when it occurred to him that the grooves in the waffle iron she was using would make an excellent mold for a running shoe. Bowerman, a former track and field coach, had been looking for a way to make shoes lighter and faster.
I picked out a couple pieces of jewelry and things that had stars on them, or things that we thought would indent or make a pattern on the soles,” Bowerman’s wife, Barbara, told Nike historian Scott Reames in an interview he conducted for the company in 2006, The Oregonian reports. “We were making the waffles that morning and talking about (the track). As one of the waffles came out, he said, ‘You know, by turning it upside down — where the waffle part would come in contact with the track — I think that might work. So he got up from the table and went tearing into his lab and got two cans of whatever it is you pour together to make the urethane, and poured them into the waffle iron.Bill Bowerman, Inventor of the Waffle Sole
The original made-in-Japan runner, priced between $21.95 and $24.95, featured nylon upper and debuted in a red and white colorway. Still, the version that quickly became popular with local athletes was dressed in the University of Oregon’s signature yellow and green scheme. At the same time, later models also took on the colors of other California schools like UCLA.
Bill was always trying to change and redefine the status quo in running equipment, and his eureka moment resulted in the Waffle Trainer, which was successfully marketed and released in 1973. The shoe, both responsive and capable of accommodating an uneven running surface, also helped champion the idea that not only the midsole but also the outsole could absorb shock.
Many athletics soles before it were flat and lower to the ground, but the waffle-inspired sole had small bulbs that protruded out for added grip and rebound. This was the first significant innovation from a company that would revolutionize the sneaker industry with innovations such as Visible Air. (Source: High Snobiety)
Most Expensive Waffle Sole Shoe
At Sotheby’s, a pair of 1972 Nike running shoes became the most expensive sneakers ever sold at auction, fetching $475,500.
The sneakers were purchased by Canadian entrepreneur Miles Nadal as part of a collection of 100 of the rarest sneakers ever made that Sotheby’s and sneaker marketplace Stadium Good were selling. The original made-in-Japan runner, priced between $21.95 and $24.95, featured a nylon upper and debuted in a red and white colorway. Still, the version that quickly became popular with local athletes was dressed in the University of Oregon’s signature yellow and green scheme. At the same time, later models also took on the colors of other California schools like UCLA. (Source: High Snobiety)
Image from Reallignaval