Mental Floss

Thingamajig Thursday: the Brannock Device

David K. Israel

It's time for another Thingamajig Thursday. Today I'm naming that silvery metal thing you stick your foot in when you go to the shoe store. It's called the Brannock Device because it was--surprise, surprise--invented by one Mr. Brannock... Charles F., to be precise.

Some interesting facts via The Lemelson-MIT Program: As a Syracuse University student, young Brannock wanted to find the best way to measure the foot. He played around with the idea for a couple of years and finally built a prototype using an Erector set. In 1926 and 1927, Brannock patented the device and created a company to build it.

Some other interesting things worth knowing about this particular thingamajig:

* It comes in a variety of colors! (green, purple, red and black.) * In addition to different models for men and women, adult and children, there are also Brannock Devices for ski boots! * During WW II, the Army hired Brannock to make sure boots and shoes fit soldiers. * Advised to make his devices out of plastic, ensuring that they would need to be replaced every couple of years, Brannock refused and would only make them from durable steel. * Today, most shoe stores don't get rid of their Brannock Devices for 10 or 15 years, until the numbers finally wear away from so much use.

Okay, so now we've reached my favorite part of Thingamajig Thursday, the part where I ask you all to come up with a better name for the thingamajig, because, let's face it, the Brannock Device is about as original as a new reality TV show on Bravo. So lay 'em on us!