One of the biggest (and most hilarious) fads of the late 1950’s was Hunkerin; which is simply where a person sits on the balls of their feet in a squatting position.
Hunkerin’ had been in use in many cultures, particularly in Asia, for centuries when it suddenly became a fad in the United States in 1959. Time reported that the craze started at the University of Arkansas when a shortage of chairs at a fraternity house led students to imitate their Ozark forefathers, who hunkered regularly.
The fad spread first to Missouri, Mississippi and Oklahoma, then across the U.S. While males were the predominant hunkerers, it was reported that female hunkerers were welcomed. Within months, regional hunkerin’ competitions were being held to discover champion hunkerers.
Reasons for the popularity of hunkerin’ included the ability for large groups of people to participate together peacefully to discuss issues such as politics or sport. When asked about the popularity of hunkerin’, one hunkerer said hunkerin’ was
“A respite from a world of turmoil. The main purpose of hunkerin’ is to get down and hunker together. It’s a friendship thing: get your friends to hunker with you. The man you don’t know is the man you haven’t hunkered with.”
By 1960 hunkerin’ was less common, and now, sadly, there are just too many chairs.