Once Americans started traveling the open road for adventure, souvenirs stepped in as reminders of the places, events, and activities enjoyed on the journey. Many motorists collected keychains, magnets, picture postcards, shot glasses, and spoons in a tradition that continues today. Bottles of sand or rocks from a visited location also hold memories. In fact, tourists in the 1800s often broke pieces off Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts or cut curtains at Washington D.C.’s Capitol Building for take-home treasures. Now hand-painted Delftware pottery, freshly-baked stroopwafel cookies, and hand-carved wooden shoes are among Holland, Michigan’s most popular souvenirs.
Clogs have been worn worldwide since medieval times, however, the footwear is most famous in Holland. Often fashioned from a single piece of poplar wood, Dutch klompen are naturally waterproof in the wet Netherlands climate, making the shoe affordable and practical. Clogs were actually shaped differently for different jobs, giving farmers flat square bottoms to remove peat blocks and fishermen sharp pointed noses to hook nets. Klompen were also showcased at church, weddings, and even presented to young women during marriage proposals. These would often be painted, engraved, or decorated to match the fancier leather-made styles. Clogs were so popular in the past that each town in the Netherlands was paired with its own shoemaker who could carve one set by hand in three to four hours. Today, machines speed up the process and while few klompen are worn by farmers or gardeners across Holland, the majority of clogs are sold as souvenirs.