In 1959 at the University of Arkansas, a group of fraternity brothers protested the lack of chairs on campus by squatting on the balls of their feet for long periods of time.
Hunkerin’ (also known as “Hunkering”) had been in use in different cultures, particularly in Asia, for centuries when it suddenly became a fad in the United States in 1959. Time reported that the craze started at the University of Arkansas when a shortage of chairs at a fraternity house led students to imitate their Ozark forefathers, who hunkered regularly.
Before long, hunkerin’ had spread, firstly to Missouri, Mississippi and Oklahoma, thence across the rest of the country. While males were the predominant hunkers, it was reported that females hunkerers were welcomed. Within months, regional hunkerin’ competitions were being held to discover champion hunkerers.
Considered by authorities as much preferable to the craze of the previous year, phonebooth stuffing, people hunkered for hours at a time on car roofs, in phone booths and wherever people gathered. Life referred to it as “sociable squatting”. Different styles of hunkerin’ were reported as “sophisticates” tended to hunker flatfooted while other hunkered with their elbows inside the knees.