On August 5th, 2014, people around the world will honor one of history’s most underrated garments: underwear. In 2003, New York-based company Freshpair founded National Underwear Day to celebrate the power of panties. (For those of you that hate that term, I’m sorry, but I can’t simply ignore an opportunity for alliteration just because a word makes you uncomfortable. Unless the word is moist.) But how much do we really know about boxers and briefs? Enough to win a game of underwear-themed trivia? No? Then you don’t know nearly enough.
1) The world record for the most pairs of underwear worn at one time is 215.
In 2010, 10-year-old Jack Singer woke up with a dream, a dream to wear over 200 pairs of underwear at once. On the morning of his tenth birthday, the young New Yorker, with the help of his parents, donned 215 pairs of tighty-whities, breaking the previous record of 200. Such a feat required months of training and left the boys legs numb halfway through his 18-minute stunt. By the end, his bottom looked like a bowling ball or a dangerously bloated diaper, but he didn’t seem to mind.
2) Underwear can make you smarter.
For her senior year art project, British teenager Eleanor Haswell created a pair of undies featuring an anatomically correct vagina picture printed on the front. The project, titled Why Are You So Afraid Of Your Own Anatomy, encourages women to seek a greater understanding of their lady parts, without shame or embarrassment. If the Orange Is the New Black scene with Taystee examining her private parts has taught us anything, it’s that it’s never too late to learn about your own body.
3) No one actually knows where “skivvies” came from.
Underpants. Undies. Boxers. Briefs. There are so many great synonyms for underwear, but none of them compare to skivvy, which derives from. . . well, no one really knows. While the OED claims the term first appeared in the 1930s, others point out that “skivvies” is mentioned in publications starting in 1918. Though skivvy eventually became synonymous with “undergarment,” the term may have originally started as a slang word for Japanese prostitutes (inspired by the Japanese word sukebei, meaning “lecherous” or “horny”) but nothing’s definitive.
4) No one knows what “G-string” means either.
On that note, the origins of the term “G-string” are also unknown. The term geestring, which refers to the string holding up a loincloth, has been around since the 19th century, but the abbreviated version didn’t show up until later. Some suggest the “G” stands for “groin” while others believe people just got lazy and decided to shorten the original term. And by others, I mean me.
5) King Tut was buried with 145 pairs of underwear.
Though he was only 10 when he ascended the throne, King Tutankhamun was a wise leader, one who recognized the importance of always having a pair of clean underwear. In fact, he valued the undergarments so much that he had his body buried with 145 loincloths, just in case there was a shortage in heaven.
6) You can buy thong-wearing peaches in China.
If you want to argue that thong-wearing peaches aren’t relevant to your life, by all means, do that. (Zombie-themed video games aren’t relevant to my life because I’m not surrounded by the undead, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying them.) Just know that you’d be missing out on an invaluable cultural experience. When else will you have the chance to see fruit dressed in lingerie? I mean really. I don’t think you’ve fully thought this through.
7) During WWII, marines got first dibs on the good underwear.
The introduction of the elastic waistband in the early 1900s caused a resurgence in the underwear market, but it was short-lived thanks to a minor scuffle between some European countries. What was it called? Oh right, World War II. America’s investment in the war caused a shortage of supplies on the homefront, leaving many of the country’s soldiers with less clothing and less protection. In an effort to rally support for the troops and keep soldiers well-equipped, the underwear company Jockey issued a number of slogans, including “Marines Come First” and “Uncle Sam Needs Us, Too!”
8) Most women own a ton of underwear.
A ShopSmart survey found that women own an average of 21 pairs of underwear, with 10% of women owning 35 pairs or more. While 46% of women preferred briefs overall, those between the ages of 18 and 34, were more likely to wear bikini-style undies. But wait, there’s more: the survey also found that 30% of women complain of wedgies. That’s no good. Bare in mind, this research was conducted in 2010, just before the rise of the high-waisted, sexy granny panty, which pretty much solved all our problems.
(Featured image via Vogue/Getty)