All of us have nicknames for athletic shoes. Some call them kicks, others say trainers, but the most popular name is sneakers. Here in the United States we say the word sneakers all the time but a lot of us do not know the origin.
The history goes back to the 1800's during a time when people did not wear rubber soled shoes. The soles of shoes were often wooden and made a loud clunking noise when you walked.
An invention by Charles Goodyear, the same Goodyear who manufactures tires, eventually lead to the mass production of rubber soled shoes. His invention of vulcanization allowed rubber to be molded to other materials and by the mid 1870's his son had the bright idea to use the rubber on shoes. After tons of failed attempts at creating a rubber soled shoe, Goodyear partnered up with the US Rubber Company and the first rubber soled shoes were born in 1916 called Keds.
Since the rubber soled shoes were quiet people started to associate wearing them with somebody looking to sneak around and might be up to no good. The word “sneakers” was coined shortly after their release by advertising agent Henry Nelson McKinney and appeared in the Funk and Wagnall’s Standard Dictionary in 1895.