In 1958 a sales manager for the Wolverine Shoe and Tanning Corporation was on a selling trip through the American states. When he reached the South, he was invited to a regional salesman’s home for dinner. ‘Hush-puppy’ cornballs were part of the meal and the sales manager asked, ‘why the name?’
He was told about the practice of throwing cornballs out the door to ‘quiet the barking dogs’. The salesman was familiar with the informal way in which ‘barking dogs’ could sometimes refer to feet. At that time the Wolverine company was in the process of launching a new type of casual shoe to be named ‘ Lasers’.
But the sales manager immediately saw connections between aching feet – comfortable shoes – and cornballs keeping dogs quiet. The name ‘Lasers’ was dropped, and Hush Puppies became an iconic name for the Wolverine company’s new casual shoes.
Real ‘hush puppies’ are a cornmeal mix (sometimes with eggs, salt and milk) baked or deep fried in oblong or spherical shapes, and popular in the Southern States of America as a side dish, often served with fish. They are also frequently thrown to domestic dogs when barking too much – in order to ‘hush’ them.