History of Classic Toys, The Sock Monkey

Posted by GoGo Goodie on January 26, 2012.

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Some blog posts are just darn cute, and today's entry definitely fits that bill!  Today we continue to look at classic retro toys as we explore the history of The Sock Monkey....


The roots of today's Sock Monkey can be traced back to the Victorian Era.  During this time the trend of making stuffed animals swept through Europe and then into North America.  Around the same time the public was becoming increasingly aware of the types of exotic animals found in Africa.  As a result, stuffed monkeys were becoming a popular item with American children.  Although they were hand crafted it didn't necessarily mean they were made out of socks.  Most were made from worn out clothes or fabric remnants. 


A Swedish immigrant named John Nelson come to the US and patented a sock knitting device back in 1869.  He settled in Rockford, Illinois and began manufacturing work socks and named his company Nelson Knitting Co.  The socks were so popular that other companies copied the design of the socks.  In 1932, the Nelson Knitting Company added a trademark red heel so customers would know they were buying a real "Rockford" sock.  It was after the addition of the red heel, during the great depression, that crafters made sock monkeys out of worn Rockford socks.   They used the red heel to form the monkey's mouth.

In the early 50's the Nelson Knitting Company discovered that their socks were being used to make sock monkeys.  They then fought to get the patent for the design and won the patent in 1955.  After securing the patent, they included a pattern for the Sock Monkey with every pair of socks.

in 1992 the Nelson Knitting Company was bought by Fox River Mills.  The Rockford socks with the red heel are still manufactured today by Fox River Mills with the red heel. However, the shape of the red heel doesn't have pointy ends anymore, the shape that gave the sock monkey's their distinctive smile.


Today the Sock Monkey lives on in popular culture.  Paul Frank, for one,  has created a booming business centered around the Sock Monkey icon.  There is also an annual Sock Monkey Madness Festival held in Rockford, Illinois celebrating all things Sock Monkey. Thanks to the Sock Monkey the world is a little cozier!

Thanks for stopping by GoGo Goodie, your Goodie Bag headquarters!  Till next time, leave us comment about your favorite classic toy....




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