That’s right - red flannel underwear, red long johns…..whatever you wanna call ‘em, complete with back flap so your butt can hang out and make that bathroom visit much easier…..and the Michigan town of Cedar Springs is the ‘Red Flannel Underwear Capital of the World’.

Now how did that happen?

Cedar Springs became incorporated as a village in Kent County in March 1871. It was settled in 1855 by Robbins Hicks, a post office opened in 1857, platted in 1859, recorded in 1860, the railroad came through in 1868, and became a city in October, 1959. The community was so named thanks to the massive number of cedar and springs (makes sense).

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Beginning in the 1860s, Cedar Springs was one of western Michigan’s top timber nerve centers. During the rough, freezing winters, red flannel underwear was made for the lumbermen who spent most of their time shivering in the cold weather while they worked. The underwear became so popular, that they kept being manufactured into the 20th century, way after the logging industry had mostly faded from the area.

Then, in 1936, the entire country was seized by the worst winter in years. A New York newspaper complained about all the snow and sub-zero temperatures, bemoaning the fact that there was no red flannel underwear for people to buy.

Cedar Springs’ local newspaper got wind of this and answered the New York reporter, stating “Just because Sak’s Fifth Avenue does not carry red flannels, it doesn’t follow that no one in the country does. CEDAR SPRINGS’ merchants have red flannels!”

The story soon spread and Cedar Springs became deluged with orders for red flannel underwear from throughout the entire United States. Now, ever since 1939, Cedar Springs has hosted the Red Flannel Festival every final weekend of September and first weekend of October.

To be fair, Cedar Springs did NOT invent the underwear. It was created in Utica, New York as women’s underwear in the early 1800s; the same type of underwear for men was called “union suits” in 1868. All carried the famous buttoned back flap, also called the "access hatch", "drop seat", "fireman's flap", and "crap flap."

So Utica missed out on being the ‘red flannel capital’ and Cedar Springs gladly claimed that title. See what all the hubbub is about for yourself - visit the Red Flannel Festival next time it comes around!

Cedar Springs: The Red Flannel Underwear Capital


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