What is a Propeller Beanie?

Erika Peterson

A propeller beanie is a type of hat or cap which fits around the entire head, and has a plastic or metal propeller on the top of the hat. Such hats are traditionally made of wool and can be single- or multi-colored. Today, propeller beanies are often sold as novelty items in specialty stores and souvenir shops as well as used as prizes at various fairs and carnivals across the globe.

Young boy eating an apple
Young boy eating an apple

The idea for the propeller beanie originated from the beanie cap that was fashionable in the early 20th century. These hats were brimless, wool, and made from different colors of fabric. In fact, in the early part of the century many fraternal organizations wore beanies with their school’s colors in order to show school spirit and support.

While beanies have been around since the early 20th century, their popularity began to fade around 1945. It was around this time that the propeller beanie may have been invented. Author Ray Nelson is credited for the invention of the propeller beanie. It is said that he was trying to find a hat for a science fiction hero that included an anti-gravity device.

The inventor of the propeller beanie actually used a typical beanie of the time to make his new hat. It looked so impressive that many of his friends did not believe that he had constructed the hat. Since the creation of the propeller beanie, it has become an American cultural phenomenon. In fact, it has been a popular symbol associated with both youth and social outcasts since the early 20th century.

Today’s novelty propeller beanies are similar in appearance to a multi-colored baseball cap with a propeller placed on the top of the hat. These hats are reasonably priced and available in a variety of sizes in specialty stores and novelty shops both on the Internet and in cities and towns across the world.

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