bunny hug

The Saskatchewan nickname for a hooded sweatshirt, with a pocket in front, and no zipper. 

It’s similar to a “cotton popover” and a “kangaroo sweatshirt.”

Bunny populations in Saskatchewan were high back in the 50’s and 60’s, and the bunnies annoyed farmers by munching on crops. The government was persuaded to put a bounty on bunnies, the same as they once had on gophers.

Bunny pelts are bigger and softer than gopher pelts. Saskatchewan farmers recognized the potential, and made the pelts into garments which most of us call “hoodies.” I’ve never seen a hoodie made of bunny pelts, but I imagine it is very cuddly and warm. The term “bunny hug” is therefore an apt name.

Eventually, the large-scale bunny killing reduced the population to manageable levels, and the bunny slaughter ended. But the style of the bunny hug garment was popular and so began to be manufactured from more common fabrics. Enter the hoodie, which, if you’re from Saskatchewan and western Manitoba, you may still be calling a bunny hug.

There are, naturally, other opinions (aren’t there always?) about where the term came from. One possibility is the bunny hug cocktail, made from one-third gin, one-third whiskey, and one-third absinthe. It sounds awful and I’ve never seen one, but apparently it’s a lovely pale green (from the absinthe) and tastes more like absinthe (anise flavor) than either of the other two ingredients.

Then we have a couple of dances. Back around 1912, the bunny hug was a dancing style performed by young people. It may have originated in San Francisco, California in the Barbary Coast dance halls along with the Texas Tommy, turkey trot, and grizzly bear. It was performed to the music of America’s great ragtime composers. The bunny hug, like other “animal” dances, caused a lot of uproar in polite society. Which is part of what, no doubt, made it so much fun.

The term may also be linked to the bunny hop dance, which was a 1950s craze. The bunny hop is a bit like a conga line, but instead of putting your hands on the hips or shoulders of the person you’re behind, you put your arms around their waist, literally hugging them. The pocket on the front of the bunny hug would be in exactly the right place for you to put your hands.

Doing the bunny hop while wearing a genuine, original bunny hug would be the perfect way to spend cold winter evenings.

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