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Fanny Packs Have Been Around for 5,000 Years

And more unexpected facts about the much-maligned accessory from ‘History Of.’

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Yes, fanny packs are back — which, to anyone who knows their long history, shouldn’t actually come as much of a surprise.

The extremely useful hands-free bag has been a symbol of dorkiness for the past several years, conjuring up images of unfashionable tourists or grandparents. But archeologists have found evidence of humans wearing hip pouches since Ötzi, a famous glacial mummy who lived between 3,400 and 3,100 BC and apparently died wearing a pouch sewn to his belt.

Since then, all sorts of cultures have worn hip-hugging bags, from ancient Egyptians and ancient Romans to Native Americans and medieval Christians. By the mid-20th century, Brits were using what they called a “bumbag,” which Americans tweaked to “fanny belt” and then “fanny pack.” It took a few more decades until they became a bona fide fashion trend, a complement to the colorful Spandex and “mom jeans” of the 1980s.

Like most things from that decade, they seemed hopelessly uncool in the early aughts. And yet a practical accessory that humans have embraced for literally thousands of years wasn’t bound to stay uncool for long.

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