How to say it: nahy-kee wof-uh-l trey-ner
- slight wedge on the heel
- iconic waffle tread
- swoosh logo
- styled like a running shoe
21st Century Nike Waffle Trainers
The modern Waffle Trainer comes in updated, 21st century styles as well as vintage styles that hark back to the 70s. Either way, Nike’s iconic trainer is still readily available on the footwear market and is as popular as ever.
…of the style: The Nike Waffle trainer was groundbreaking in the fact that it incorporated rubber soles with little nodules for grip rather than the traditional metal spikes. And it was inspired by a waffle iron.
The creator of the waffle trainer, Bill Bowerman, was the track coach at the University of Oregon and later went on to be a co-founder of Nike, Inc. Bowerman was obsessed with reducing the weight of running shoes for his athletes, and one of the ways to do that was to get rid of the traditional metal spikes used to grip the ground, particularly on the new all-weather running track at the university.
The story goes that one morning in 1971 Bowerman was pondering this problem when he sat down to a breakfast of waffles, and the humble breakfast stack inspired a ‘eureka moment’. Bowerman apparently rushed out to his workshop and came back with the ingredients for making urethane (type of rubber) which he poured directly onto the waffle maker, rendering the instrument no longer safe for food preparation and creating the now famous waffle tread.
The first waffle shoe, called the Waffle Racer (more commonly called the ‘Moon Shoe’ as it created footprints that resembled the those made on the moon) was introduced in 1972, followed by the Oregon Waffle, and then the iconic Waffle Trainer in 1974. The innovative new style was seen as the future of running and became an instant hit – fuelled in part by the fitness craze that spread beyond the track and became a trend among the general population in the 1970s and 80s. The demand for the waffle trainer was so high that Nike (then called Blue Ribbon Sports) struggled to produce enough pairs to fulfil their orders. The popularity of the waffle trainer was such that many sources claim it is the shoe that built Nike into the behemoth that it is today.
In the 21st century, the waffle tread is common place on both casual and athletic trainers across all brands and has been fine-tuned and fiddled with by many designers through the decades. Nike still produces a waffle trainer that has evolved from the original 70s versions and recently has taken to releasing ‘vintage’ versions that mirror those original designs more closely. By all accounts it is a comfortable shoe to wear regardless of one’s prowess on the running track and it is this versatility of wear that will no doubt keep the popularity of the waffle trainer going strong for many decades to come.
…of the name: The shoe is named for the distinctive waffle pattern on the tread.
- The Nike swoosh logo was created by graphic designer Carolyn Davidson, who was paid $35 for the job
- Steve Prefontaine was the first athlete to indorse Nike products in 1974
- The waffle iron on which the first waffle sole was created was recently unearthed in a rubbish heap at the original home of Bill Bowerman in Fossil, Oregon.
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