Band buttons have long adorned the lapels, hats and bags of both music snootists and regular ol' fans: It's a simple yet sorta-unintrusive way of telling people, "Yup, I listen to thisband. And I'm awesome for doing so."
The local record shop used to sell them in these clear-glass candy jars, 25 cents each, and kids and grown-ups alike used to fish around in them for their favorites—some would dump the jar's entire contents onto the counter to find their gems.
By the time I was in high school, the buttons were almost a dollar each—and then kids started resorting to ordering $100-plus button makers via the Internet (yes, I had the Internet when I was in high school)—to save money on buttons, obviously. And I myself had a (thrifted, of course) military messenger bag adorned with every Weezer button (I was 16!) ever produced. And I'll admit to zeroing-in on a boy's button to scope out what band he was advertising that he listened to. And then, of course, I judged.
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What? Judging a person by the type of music they listened to? No one everdoes that.
The button's origins seem to be the slogan button, which first appeared in 1896 during the McKinley vs. Bryan presidential campaign. While many have opted for the much-cheaper-to-produce political-sticker route these days, it wasn't long until people began using buttons to make their own personal political, sexual or nonsensical statements.
Just as they do today, these buttons covered everything, from backpacks to purses. You had the classic yellow smiley faces, the iconic peace signs, the "Make Love Not War"s and, my favorite, "Draft Beer, Not Boys."
These days, you don't see as many political buttons as band ones, though the little punk kids (seriously, they're like, TINY) who hang out around the corner from my apartment still have Misfits, Dead Kennedys and anti-Nazi buttons all over their denim jackets with the sleeves cut off. Pocket punks! Adorable!