The Weird History of Long Johns

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victorianerawomenLong Johns… A Fashion Statement?

England 1879 – A new garment revolutionizes women’s fashion… and keeping warm during chilly nights.  Long Johns can be traced back to the 17th century but they gained prominence in the late 1800s.  Victorian era women in Europe and North America used the funny underwear with a trap door (for convenience) to enhance their looks.  Let the good professor explain…

Here’s how University of Alberta professor Anne Bissonnette tells it:

“With women, we traditionally had an accumulation of undergarments or underpinnings,” Bissonnette says. “It all accumulated at the waist.”

Professor Bissonnette explains that Victorian era women in terms of beauty were judged on how thick their waist lines were.  As the temperatures dropped and women needed extra layers for warmth Long Johns saved the day by keeping waist lines from expanding and women stayed toasty.

Don't make fun of  my Long Johns!

Don’t make fun of my Long Johns!

But where exactly did the name “Long Johns” come from?

Pictured here, Sullivan routinely wore garments that closely resembled Long Johns during his fights.  In fact John L would tuck the legs of his undies into his shoes stretching them out.  Is this where the name came from?  Who really knows?  Another theory of the Long John saga puts the name on a famous 17th century knife fighter with the nick name “Long John” who wore the trapped door garments.

But Long Johns continued making key contributions to our civilization during World War II.  If you asked soldiers in the brutal Ardenne Campaign what their trustiest piece of equipment was… almost hands down it was their Long Johns.  While keep the soldiers warm against the nasty winter weather they faced their Long Johns did give them two major issues:

1) They itched.  Some soldiers swore they would itch their skin right off (but they were glad for the warmth)

2) Sweat.  Long Johns made of wool were so warm they in fact got too hot and caused the soldiers to perspire which added to the discomfort

None the less the story of Long Johns continues on into the 21st century without the worry of itching, sweating and the thickness of waist lines.  Instead of itchy wool you can get a polyester blend material that even John L Sullivan could easily win prize fights in.

Take a look at the new Tri-Zone base layers:

Tops – Link

Bottoms – Link

Sources:

The Unofficial History of Long Johns – The Toronto Star

http://www.thestar.com/life/2007/01/20/the_unofficial_history_of_long_johns.html

Long Johns – World Wide Words

http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-lon2.htm

The Long History of Long Johns – St. Albert Gazette

http://www.stalbertgazette.com/article/20121226/SAG0801/312269989/the-long-history-of-longjohns

Hello Fans…Your Game Time Temperature Is -59 Degrees Below Zero

January 10, 1982 –

That day a huge football game was scheduled between the visiting San Diego Chargers and host Cincinnati Bengals.  Not just an ordinary regular season game, this match up decided who played in the Super Bowl.  But this game would be unlike any before it.  Yes, there have been cold football games, but this one possibly was one of the coldest in the history of professional football.

The first person on the field for the Chargers was Hank Bauer.  Bauer made it a point to run out on the field and begin his pre-game routine of fielding punts and kickoffs.  Just one problem…

Picture from Sheila Gray

Probably didn’t keep you warm

Warming up was going to be virtually impossible.  See the ambient temperature outside was -9 Fahrenheit.

Oh but it gets worse.  Add 35 mph winds and now you have an actual temperature that’s -59 below zero!  The prior week San Diego played the Miami Dolphins in South Florida and the temperature there was in the 80s with high humidity.  In fact so humid that star tight end Kellen Winslow was helped off the field from exhaustion.

Just to give you an idea how cold that is, the coldest inhabited place on earth is a place called Oymyakon, Russia where on February 6, 1933 the temperature was recorded at -90F below zero.

By the end of the game, anything having to do with being warm would become a joke you told friends or over drinks.

Just to keep his feet warm, Bauer kept his cleats on top of the heater near the Chargers’ bench.  The cleats began to melt but Bauer said he couldn’t feel any heat coming from his footwear.  Players on the Cincinnati side wanted to show some bravado by not wearing more layers of clothing and exposing their skin to the brutal conditions.  After a few minutes in the cold they opted to rub Vaseline on their arms to keep the skin from cracking.

Even Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts had icicles hanging off his beard.

While the players struggled with the frigid conditions, fans didn’t fare much better.  Fans like Bengal supporter Gary Berliner sat on the floor of the men’s restroom wrapping paper towels around his feet.  Why?  “It’s a wood product, it’s the best insulation,” Berliner said.  He had multiple pairs of socks on which caused his feet to perspire and of course made them even colder.

Now if you had a ticket to a major sporting event and had to go, what piece of clothing or equipment would you bring to stay warm?

Heated Stadium Seat Cushion – take a look by clicking here

Sources:

“A ch-ch-chilling recollection of the Ice Bowl”  by Frank Luska

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs07/columns/story?columnist=luksa_frank&id=3198023

“Cold reality: ’81 AFC title game a struggle from start to finish” by William Bendetson

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs07/news/story?id=3198404

Coldest Inhabited Place on Earth – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/picturegalleries/9877325/The-coldest-inhabited-place-on-Earth.html

Fans’ Burning Spirit Helps Them Survive – Martin Hogan Jr. Jan 11, 1982

http://retro.cincinnati.com/Topics/Article/392/Fans-Burning-Spirit-Helps-Them-Survive

How To Deal With “The Year Without A Summer”

So picture this…you’ve taken a time machine back (you borrowed Marty McFly’s flux capacitor just humor me) and you’re in the year 1816.

Europe was just beginning to recover from the French Revolution and Napoleanic Wars when a volcano in Indonesia blew its top.  The previous year, Mount Tambora which at the time was an active volcano erupted.  In fact, nearly a third of the mountain blew apart during the eruption sending tons of debris and dust into the atmosphere.  This dust formed its own giant layer literally blocking out the sun in parts of North America and Europe.

What must have completely confused everyone is the bizarre weather patterns that followed.  As Spring gave way to Summer, people prepared to harvest crops when instead of warm sun they got…winter.  In parts of the United States like New York and Massachusetts locals were treated to frigid winds, snows in June and outright mayhem.  Crops failed, food prices skyrocketed and starvation became a real threat.  Even the rain didn’t look right.  During rainstorms in some areas, the drops were red instead of clear because of the dust in the atmosphere.

The rich and famous didn’t escape.  In Virginia, Thomas Jefferson had recently retired to his estates and looked forward to years of selling his crops but instead went deeply into debt to finance his farms.

To give you a feel for how people felt during The Year Without a Summer, here’s an article from The Boston Independent Journal dated June 17, 1816:

“On the night of 6th instant, after a cold day, Jack Frost paid another visit to this region of the country, and nipped the beans, cucumbers, and other tender plants. This surely is cold weather for summer.

On the 5th we had quite warm weather, and in the afternoon copious showers attended with lightning and thunder — then followed high cold winds from the northwest, and back back again the above mentioned unwelcome visitor. On the 6th, 7th, and 8th June, fires were quite agreeable company in our habitations.”

The insane weather actually inspired a classic horror tale, one you’re familiar with.  In Switzerland, the intense winter weather inspired Lord Byron, Percy Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft to write horror stories.  Frankenstein came alive because of the Year Without A Summer.

So here’s the question for you, what would you do to deal with a summer without heat or sun?

Not sure, here’s some ideas:

Tri-Zone Base Layer Top – link

Battery Heated Fleece Jacket – link

Source:  Robert McNamara, History Channel – link

How To Survive In The Cold – Venture Heat Winter Survival Guide

Just because the temperature drops outside doesn’t mean you need to put your favorite past times in hibernation.  Over the next few weeks, we’re going to get  you all the information you need to survive the cold and keep on playing outside.

First things first….safety!

Cold weather has its good, bad and ugly parts to it.  The good?  According to Harvard Medical School you can burn lots of brown fat by exposing yourself to cold weather.

Yes, your body needs to produce heat so it takes those nasty fat cells and begins firing them up.  Guess you can call it your “cold diet”.

The bad?  When the temperature begins to drop your body begins prioritizing where it needs heat the most.  Primarily it’s your body’s critical organs like your heart.  The losers in this game are your extremities namely your fingers and toes.

Now for the ugly…

As your body relocates heat from  your extremities, those body parts are more susceptible to frostbite.    What happens is you experience a “pins and needles” feeling in those body parts followed by numbness.

With prolonged exposure you run the risk of losing those body parts.

Question is, how do we keep this from happening in the first place?

The National Institute of Health (USA) first suggests to plan ahead when it comes to winter outdoor activities.

For instance, if you plan on being outside for several hours avoid drinking alcohol and get plenty of sleep.  But there’s one major thing you can do to avoid frostbite.

Reducing exposure to the cold.

Any bit of skin that’s exposed to the cold is going to result in you losing body heat…super fast.

In fact the Weather Channel suggests that within seconds, with temperatures in the 20s you can lose 40% of your body heat from one exposed area.

First thing you need to do in extreme cold weather is make sure that your base layers (clothing touching your skin) completely covers every square centimeter (inch for US people).

Hands, ears, nose and yes, toes (you’d be fairly crazy to go outside barefoot) need to be completely covered.  If you do go outside barefoot, please seek help.

Here’s what you should look like in terms of keeping your skin covered, take a look:

Image

 

Xtreme Weather Protection Suit

That’s part one of your Winter Survival Guide.

Got some great ideas or tricks you use to play in the cold, share them below we’d love to hear them.

How To Extend Your Riding Season In Winter

Get 12V gear with unlimited heat, wireless control and inter connectivity

Imagine this:  you’ve just enjoyed your summer riding season, but time flew by and now you have to decide what to do with your bike for the winter.

Typically you have two choices:  a) shut it down or b) keep riding but figure out how to keep warm

Which do you choose?  If you want to keep riding but tend to shut it down…we’ve got a solution for you.

Check out this new video featuring the new Grand Touring Collection of heated gear.

You learn about:

  • extending your rides in winter with 12V gear
  • new way to control your heated gear’s settings
  • how to power multiple pieces of heated gear with one power source

Click the video to watch:

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