PF Flyers

P.F. Flyers ad from the late 50’s

The ultimate shoe for a second-grader to have on his feet in 1967 was the PF Flyer. It was a known scientific fact that we learned from its endless TV ads that you could simply run faster and jump higher with a pair of these beauties on than with a pair of a competitor’s vastly inferior product.

I never had any high-tops like are illustrated here. I preferred the low cut “track shoe.”

The shoe has a venerable history. It all started when B.F. Goodrich patented the Posture Foundation Insole in 1933. That’s where the “PF” comes from, get it? It made for the most comfortable basketball shoe that could be found, now that your poor arches finally had some support. By the 40’s, they were occasionally spotted on the feet of bobbysoxers sitting on drug store soda bar stools. Their popularity grew through the 50’s, and by the time I was a kid in the mid 60’s it was at its peak.

One of the things that made them irresistible to kids was the old trick used by Cracker Jack and sugary cereals: throw a prize in the box!

The Johnny Quest Decoder Ring was perhaps the most famous of prizes included, but they also inserted delights with a cowboy theme in earlier years. That seems kind of odd, when you think about it. Why would tennis shoes go along with arrowheads and branding irons?

Try as I might, I just couldn’t find the name of that monkey that used to be on the TV commercials. Maybe a reader can help?

In truth, I only remember owning one pair of the magical PF Flyers. I wore mom down with begging only once. She preferred that I wear Ked’s, a better value in her opinion. And no doubt they were. That money for the enclosed toy had to come from somewhere.

The shoes are still around, I’m happy to say, but they’re not the King like they were in the 60’s, when they were heavily advertised to kids watching Saturday morning cartoons.

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