Friday, October 24, 2014

Why Are Shrimp Boots White and Other Louisiana Traditions

Blogger's Note: So some years at Jazz Fest it rains a lot and gets muddy, mucky and nasty. The footwear that will take you through the gross mess the best is often a good pair of rubber boots. Shrimp boots are a local tradition folks have been wearing for years and there are plenty of local places that carry them.  Here is the true story behind white rubber boots as Southern footwear, from the swamp to the fair grounds.

White shrimp boots are a Louisiana staple. Often referred to as “Cocodrie Converse” or “Swamp Nikes”, these popular boots are more of a symbol of Louisiana than merely the boot shape.  Shrimp, in Louisiana, can be viewed as a representation of culture because the image of shrimp or the eating of shrimp can evoke attachments to heritage, history, tradition, and authenticity.  For example, many seafood vendors wear the white rubber boots known as “shrimp boots” for function; to keep one's feet dry, and because the boots are tied to an image of the authentic shrimper.

Shrimp, also takes on its own set of symbolic meanings and connotations that are linked more to what it means to buy them and the tradition more so than just the food itself.

But why are shrimp boots white?  One common answer is that the white rubber will not leave marks on a boat's deck.  Another is because of the hot sun most shrimpers do wear them offshore on their boats. The sun can be very intense on the gulf waters, and white reflects the sun much better than any other color.  A good choice for shrimpers who also gator hunt at night with others, the toes of white boots are noticeable in the dark,  not to be confused with a gators mouth like black boots.  Black boots can easily resemble a gators mouth in the dark.