Surely the most feeble fad ever invented? All will be revealed in today’s weird Wikipedia article, presented by the Wikiworm.

Hunkerin’ (hunkering) is where a person sits in a squatting position. It briefly became an American fad in the late 1950s.

Hunkerin’ had been in use in many cultures, particularly in Asia, for centuries when it suddenly became a fad in the United States in 1959. Time reported that the craze started at the University of Arkansas when a shortage of chairs at a fraternity house led students to imitate their Ozark forefathers, who hunkered regularly.

While the word “hunkerin'” is believed to originate from the Scots word for “haunches”, claims were made for Yorkshire, Korea and Japan.

The fad spread first to Missouri, Mississippi and Oklahoma, then across the U.S. While males were the predominant hunkerers, it was reported that female hunkerers were welcomed. Within months, regional hunkerin’ competitions were being held to discover champion hunkerers.

Considered by authorities as preferable to the craze of the previous year, phonebooth stuffing, people hunkered for hours on car roofs, in phone booths and wherever people gathered. Life referred to it as “sociable squatting”. Different styles of hunkerin’ were reported as “sophisticates” tended to hunker flatfooted while others hunkered with their elbows inside the knees.

Reasons for the popularity of hunkerin’ included the ability for large groups of people to participate together peacefully to discuss issues such as politics or sport. When asked about the popularity of hunkerin’, one hunkerer said hunkerin’ was

“A respite from a world of turmoil. The main purpose of hunkerin’ is to get down and hunker together. It’s a friendship thing: get your friends to hunker with you. The man you don’t know is the man you haven’t hunkered with.”

By 1960 hunkerin’ was less common.



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About Author Profile: Worm

In between dealing with all things technological in the Dabbler engine room, Worm writes the weekly Wikiworm column every Saturday and our monthly Book Club newsletters.

7 thoughts on “Hunkerin’

    January 24, 2015 at 11:50

    By 1960 hunkerin’ was less common. Not strictly true, Herr Wiki, consider the poor mountaineer, stood standing on a stance on, let\\\’s say, the Walker Spur, a fine sunny late afternoon in January, 500 feet from the top so at least 4 more hours of climbing when, nature calls. Hunkering, that’s the answer, most efficacious in every case, regardless of gender.
    The Club Alpin Francais tried to impose a ban on the practice (complaints from those down below) however, it was cheerfully ignored.

    January 24, 2015 at 13:48

    aka ‘sherpa tensing’

      January 24, 2015 at 15:32


  3. Brit
    January 24, 2015 at 16:39

    That chap in the middle of the bench is clearly not taking his hunkerin’ seriously enough.

  4. Gaw
    January 24, 2015 at 18:24

    But I thought this sort of thing was impossible before social media made it go viral?

    • Worm
      January 24, 2015 at 22:55

      perhaps some bearded plonkers are about to open a hunkerin’ cafe in Shoreditch

    January 25, 2015 at 08:20

    I think you are a little behind the curve, Worm. My son works in E2 and the word on the street is that peak-beard was reached in the Spring of last year, and the tide is going out fast….

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