Where Did the Word Long John Come From in America?

The origin of the term "Long John" in America can be traced back to the 19th Century and it’s association with a legendary boxer named John L. Sullivan, who often wore a distinctive type of attire during his fights. These boxing garments became colloquially known as "John Ls" among the spectators and enthusiasts. Over time, the term gradually evolved and transformed into "Long Johns," referring to the specific style of undergarments worn by boxers like Sullivan.

Who Says Long Johns?

When it comes to the term “Long John,” it’s primarily used in the Midwestern United States and Canada. It’s origin can be traced back to the 19th century, where it was predominantly used to refer to a type of warm undergarment worn during colder months. However, the exact origins of the term remain somewhat unclear.

One plausible theory suggests that the term “Long John” might have derived from the infamous pirate character of the same name in Robert Louis Stevensons novel, “Treasure Island.”. Long John Silver was depicted as a cunning and resourceful seafarer, renowned for his distinctive appearance, which often included a long coat or trousers. It’s conceivable that the use of the term in North America was influenced by the popularity of this character.

Another possible origin for the term can be found in the Western frontier of the United States. Cowboys and homesteaders braving the harsh winters needed long, sturdy trousers that could withstand the elements. To differentiate these practical garments from regular pants, they were commonly referred to as “Long Johns.”

In certain regions of Texas, people still refer to this type of warm undergarment as “Long Johns.”. While the exact reason for this variation in usage is unclear, it could be attributed to migration patterns or cultural exchange between regions.

Cultural Significance and Symbolism of Long Johns

  • Long johns are often worn as thermal underwear in cold climates.
  • They’re known for their long, full-length design that covers the entire leg.
  • In popular culture, long johns have been associated with warmth, comfort, and practicality.
  • They’ve been featured in various films, highlighting their significance as functional clothing.
  • Long johns have also been used symbolically to represent resilience and endurance.
  • In some cultures, long johns have become a fashion statement, with designer brands creating stylish versions.
  • Long johns have been mentioned in literature and poetry, evoking imagery of cozy winter scenes.
  • They’re commonly associated with winter sports, such as skiing and snowboarding.
  • The symbolism of long johns can extend to unity and camaraderie, as they’re often worn by teams or groups in outdoor activities.
  • Long johns have a history rooted in practicality, making them an enduring icon of functionality in clothing.

Long johns, the iconic thermal underwear, have a fascinating etymology rooted in boxing history. With a heritage spanning over two centuries, the company that introduced these insulating undergarments is believed to have named them after the renowned late-19th-century pugilist, John L. Sullivan. Despite the passage of time, this prominent manufacturer continues to produce long johns, epitomizing their enduring popularity.

Why Are Pants Called Long Johns?

The origin of the term “long johns” can be traced back to the early days of American clothing. The etymology of this term is quite fascinating and sheds light on the history of this iconic garment. One theory suggests that the name “long johns” originated from the late-19th-century heavyweight boxer, John L. Sullivan.

The company that’s credited with creating the long johns, which we’re familiar with today, boasts a remarkable 225-year heritage. They were one of the pioneers in producing this unique garment and have continued to do so till date. Despite the evolution of fashion and the introduction of newer undergarments, the company has stayed true to it’s roots and continues to manufacture long johns.

To wear a pair of long johns is to embrace a tradition that’s stood the test of time. So, the next time you slip into a pair of long johns, remember their fascinating etymology and the legacy they carry.

JOHN SMEDLEY RE-LAUNCHES MERINO LONG JOHNS. As pioneers in the fashion industry, the 238-year old family run business, John Smedley, is renowned for creating the iconic Long John undergarment. The name itself is said to have originated from the founder, John Smedley. Continuing their legacy of innovation, John Smedley is now relaunching their Merino Long Johns, offering a blend of heritage and contemporary style.

Who Created the Long John?


Our 238-year old family run business, John Smedley, is credited in fashion folklore as the originator of the iconic Long John garment. The undergarments, known for their comfort and warmth, have become a staple in many wardrobe collections. Interestingly, the term “Long John” is believed to have derived it’s name from our companys founder, John Smedley himself.

As the vanguards of the Long John tradition, we take great pride in preserving the heritage associated with this garment. We remain committed to offering customers the finest materials and expert craftsmanship that have come to symbolize the John Smedley name. With each relaunch, we pay homage to the legacy of John Smedley and his contribution to the world of fashion.

Source: Long underwear – Wikipedia

The origin of the name “Long John” for this bar-shaped doughnut isn’t clearly documented, but it’s believed to have been named after John Blondell, the inventor of the doughnut cutter in 1872.

Why Is the Donut Called Long John?

The origin of the term “Long John” in relation to donuts remains somewhat elusive. However, one theory suggests that the name might have derived from a man named John Blondell, who received the first patent for a doughnut cutter in 187This speculation posits that the Long John might have been named as a way to honor Mr. Blondells contribution to doughnut engineering.

The Long John itself is a bar-shaped, yeast-risen doughnut that can be coated entirely with glaze or topped with cake icing. It can also be filled with custard or creme, adding an extra layer of deliciousness to it’s already enticing appearance. This particular type of doughnut is commonly found in the Midwestern United States and Canada, and it’s also been embraced in Texas.

The exact year the Long John was introduced to Americans isn’t well-documented, as it seems to have been lost to the annals of history. However, it’s been enjoyed by doughnut enthusiasts for quite some time. With it’s elongated shape and delectable fillings, the Long John offers a unique twist on traditional round donuts, making it a favorite among many.

The Different Variations of Long John Donuts Found Across Different Regions and Countries.

The term “Long John” is used to refer to a specific type of donut that can be found in various regions and countries. The name likely originated in America, where it’s commonly used to describe a rectangular-shaped donut filled with cream or custard. However, it’s important to note that the specific variations of Long John donuts can differ from place to place. In some regions, they may be filled with different types of cream or covered with various toppings. So, depending on where you are, you may encounter unique versions of Long John donuts that showcase the local preferences and flavors.


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