Mr. Rogers' Sneakers

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What kind of sneaker did Mr. Rogers wear?

There are many different answers to this to be found on Internet forums. Many people give a definitive answer (Keds and Sperry are at the most common answers), but the real answer is that Mr. Rogers wore a number of different brands over the history of the program. It's easy to mistake one brand for another since the common canvas Plimsoll, a Circular Vamp Oxford (CVO) style shoe, has been popular for over 175 to 130 years, depending on the date you believe they were invented. Some sources say they were created in the 1830, but others say they were created in 1876. I tend to favor the 1876 date because the Liverpool Rubber Company was not registered until 1861. The Liverpool Rubber Company was not registered until 1861 by William Somerville. Somerville came to Liverpool in 1855 to sell rubber shoes for The Canadian Rubber Company. Industrial rubber was introduced to Europe by Charles Macintosh in 1818, so an 1830's date is certainly possible.

They can't be the classic 'Jack Purcell sneaker because those all have a shell toe -- a ribbed rubber toe. The sneakers Mr. Rogers wore never had a rubber toe.

During one well-known segment on the show Mr. Rogers and Mr. McFeely visit a shoe factory to see how sneakers are made. The blue canvas sneakers shown in the segment are the same kind that Mr. Rogers wears. The brand name of the factory is not shown in the segment, but toward the end of the segment you can see sneakers being put into boxes. The blue star logo of Converse is clearly visible.

If you look at publicity stills and frames from video over the years you can see that there were small differences in the sneakers over time. My best guess is that Mr. Rogers wore at least three different brands over the history of the program -- Keds, Sperry Top-Siders, and Converse.

Children's Museum of Pittsburgh
10 Children's Way
Allegheny Square, Pittsburgh, PA 15212 

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