The foam finger, a staple at sports events around the country, is Iowan Steve Chmelar's baby. He created it in 1971. So when Miley Cyrus began touching Robin Thicke's manhood and pantomiming digital penetration with her foam finger at the VMAs on Sunday night, it hit Chmelar in a way that most of us can't truly comprehend.
"She took an honorable icon that is seen in sporting venues everywhere and degraded it. Fortunately, the foam finger has been around long enough that it will survive this incident," Chmelar told Fox Sports. Clearly, the foam finger was the victim at Barclays Center on Sunday night, an unwilling participant in Miley's much-talked about assault on culture.
The bright side: Miley's performance allowed us to find out more about the 59-year-old Chmelar and the history of his beloved foam creation. The story begins when Chmelar was 16, and trying to figure out the way to cheer on his high school basketball team. Fox Sports explains:
The finger made only two appearances -- at the state semifinal and championship game in Des Moines -- before it was retired for good. But an AP photographer snapped a photo of Chmelar at one of the games, and it ended up in the school yearbook, where it became an inspiration for fans all over the world.
Several years after Chmelar created his original No. 1 finger, a man named Geral Fauss ... created the first foam finger and began selling them at the 1978 Cotton Bowl game. Chmelar said he has never spoken with Fauss, but that he believes it was his creation that inspired the digit we all know today.
Miley isn't exactly the first foam finger defiler. Over the years we've seen people morph Chmelar's foam finger into less wholesome versions:
Miley, for her part, in case you missed it, used the finger to rub Robin Thicke's crotch, and then proceeded to hump it (the finger, that is) like an unfixed chihuahua. "For people who like that kind of entertainment, I'm sure that it met their needs," Chmelar said, adding: "If I had a choice between Julie Andrews singing 'The Sound of Music' and Miley Cyrus doing 'Can't Stop,' I'd go the Julie Andrews route."
We would, too.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.