Welcome to Poms Poms
History of Pom Pons
It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that the first pom was invented by Lawrence “Herkie” Herkimer. After all, Herkie was responsible for so many firsts in cheerleading, from the first camp to the first competition. While Herkie doesn’t remember the exact day he invented the pom, he does know that it was sometime in the early to mid 50’s.
That’s when “Herkie,” was watching the 1940 World’s Fair on a black and white television and noticed his eyes could not follow the batons when they were thrown in the air. He was struck with the idea that streamers would make them more visible and perfect for cheerleaders to use. After color television was unveiled in late 1953, Herkie began work on the idea that would address the needs of color TV and the fans in the stands. The pom pom was a simple “stick” with colored crepe paper strips attached. He copyrighted that initial design which later was improved when Jim Hazlewood, Herkie’s brother-in-law, engineered a pom pom machine that made work much easier by splitting the crepe paper into perfectly sized streamers. Herkie did not file for the patent until September 17, 1968, and was granted the patent naming him as the Inventor on February 2, 1971.
Herkie originally called his creations pom poms but changed the name to pom pons on a trip to Hawaii with instructors for a camp. According to Herkie, when they landed they were greeted by press who were anxious to get a story and pictures about the very first cheer camp in Hawaii. The staff put on a show and the photographers took pictures as fast as they could. After the staff finished their performance, Herkie took questions from the writers. One of the questions was “What are the girls waving?” When Herkie replied “pom poms,” the reporters began to laugh, so he asked why his answer was funny. Someone then told him that word had a negative connotation in Hawaii, so he immediately said “I didn’t say pom poms, I said pom pons”! And, from that moment we have always called them pom pons, with a smile on our face.
Today, you can find poms in all sorts of colors and sizes on shop.varsity.com.
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