The Bowerman Family’s Waffle Iron
Posted on March 2, 2011 by Ladies&Gentleman
Many of you might not know who the Bowerman Family is, and quite frankly, their name hasn’t been talked about much in the sneaker world since the 70’s. What sets this family apart, is the fact that the Bowerman name is responsible for the launch for the biggest sporting brand on the planet. You know the one, Nike?
You see, this is not just some waffle iron that should have been thrown out years ago due to it being a pile of rusted metal scraps, no; this is the waffle iron that revolutionized the trainer in 1971, bringing forth what Vans continue to use on most their shoes today; The Waffle Grip.
For those unaware, the sneaker that revolutionized Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight’s business was the 1974 shoe Waffle Trainer. Bowerman had been looking for a lightweight sole design that would work best on the artificial track of the University of Oregon, as well as other running surfaces people ran on at that time. In one of those ‘lightbulb’ moments people get from time to time, he realized that a waffle irons imprint, when reversed, would provide awesome traction on the underside of a shoe. Three years of working and playing around with the design, and the shoe that begun Nike’s empire was born. You could say that this shoe is responsible for everything. Crazy, huh.
What makes this story even more intriguing, is that this waffle iron had been thought to be lost. Nike had been asking the family for it for years to no avail. Melissa Bowerman (daughter of Bill), knowing the significance of it, came across the iron and with some O.G. Nike shoes, stored in a box on the family farm.
The net worth of this iron would be staggering. Just imagine it for a second; Nike is a billion dollar company that has hunted this down for years. It’s like when a bro chases a girl for years and finally gets her. They would have been ridiculously excited at the prospect of getting it in their hands.
It is good to note that it did however pay for a supposed much-needed pole-vault pit for the track team at Condon-Wheeler High School (Bill Bowerman’s alma mater), so the money did go to good use. Another side note; I am guessing there was a truckload money left over.