The brand is often described as a classic American footwear brand and has been successfully selling footwear since the 1950’s.The headquarters of the company is in Rockford, Michigan and it is a subsidiary of the Wolverine Worldwide footwear company.
The origins of the company’s name and the iconic dog mascot have been well documented and are derived from the dish of fried corn balls coincidentally also called Hush Puppies. The Southern fried corn balls allegedly are named so because they would often be thrown to barking dogs by farmers to stop them barking and would be thrown to the begging, staring and drooling hounds whenever there was a Southern style cook off held outdoors. James Gaylord Muir was the brand’s first sales manager and coined the name after dining with a colleague. He inquired about the name of the fried corn balls and as to the origin of the name.
He made the connection between the then unnamed brand of shoes and the corn balls because at that time in America, ‘Barking dogs’ was a widely used euphemism used by Americans to refer to sore feet.
James Gaylord Muir realised that a connection existed between the names and that Hush Puppies would make a good name for a brand of footwear which would market itself as firstly and foremost being a comfortable and practical brand of shoes. Muir wanted the brand to be the shoes that could stop those dogs barking. Quite clever really.
Other names for the footwear brand which were being considered at the time included Lasers which I do not think would have endured as well as the present choice of name. For me personally it just does not seem anywhere near as catchy or apt but like I said earlier I always associate the shoes with the dog and vice versa.
The fortunes of the brand have been up and down throughout its history as the brand has continually fallen in and out of favour as they are not one of the most fashionable brands but it did enjoy a resurgence in the Nineties and was even awarded a Fashion Prize in 1996 for the best accessory at the Council of Fashion Designers awards dinner. The brand’s resurgence in popularity was also used as an example in the book “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” (ISBN 0-316-31696-2) by Malcolm Gladwell. From teetering on the brink of being phased out due to insufficient sales the brand rose like a phoenix from the flames with record sales in the mid Nineteen Nineties as the footwear brand reached record levels of sales and began to be perceived as a’ fashionable’ shoe to wear.