Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Oh, Those Devilish Velvet Slippers!

During our recent holiday on Nantucket, we were fortunate to be visited for several days by our friends Calista and John Littlefield.  We're crazy about them.  Their visit was a laughter-filled, boozy, uproariously funny jabberfest.  I'm still recovering from its merriment.

Calista is a great fashion plate and shoe diva, and stepped off the jet that delivered her to the island wearing a pair of classic Stubbs & Wootton black velvet slippers that feature an impish red devil wielding a pitchfork.  You know the ones I'm referring to, of course.

Reggie's Stubbs & Wootton velvet slippers,
the same ones Calista Littlefield sported

Apparently Calista's slippers excited rather a lot of comment among the fellow travelers waiting for their luggage after the flight.  One fellow said to her that the devil featured on her shoes reminded him of one that appeared years ago on a brand of canned deviled ham that he couldn't remember the name of.  None of us could remember it, either, when we spoke about it later that evening over what turned into a veritable waterfall of martinis.  We figured the company that once made the deviled ham had probably long-since dropped its mascot, falling to the pressure of lunatic protesters who threatened a boycott unless the company dispensed with its supposedly Satan-promoting imagery.

Reggie has a long personal history with velvet slippers, Dear Reader.  He bought his first pair thirty or so years ago at Bergdorf Goodman, long before they became the rage of his lifestyle compatriots on the blogosphere.  They were embroidered with a gold threaded fox head.  He still owns them.  Back in the day Reggie would wear his velvet slippers around the house and to parties, and he sometimes would wear them out dancing in Manhattan's downtown clubs late at night.  Most of the time people he came across while wearing them had never seen such a thing, and they almost always had something to say about them, and not always flattering to the wearer.  Ah well, ignorance must be bliss . . . or so I've heard.

I first became aware of Stubbs & Wootton's velvet slippers a decade or more ago, when I first saw a pair of their devilish slippers on the feet of a man at a black tie party.  So clever and so soigné, I thought at the time.  I had to have a pair.

And so I bought myself some shortly thereafter, and I wear them from time to time, usually at dinner parties or to some festive affair.  Unfortunately they are just a wee bit tight on Reggie's feet, and so are strictly party shoes.  In July of this year I bought myself another pair of Stubbs & Wootton slippers as a birthday present to myself, made out of midnight blue velvet embroidered with the sun on one of them and the moon on the other.  My new slippers fit me better than my devil ones do, and so I've worn them out and about more.

So where is all this leading, you may ask?  Well, the other day, Dear Reader, while shopping for groceries at a supermarket near Darlington House, I chanced to find myself in the canned meats section of the store, for reasons that are too mundane to go into here right now.  On one of the shelves of said supermarket I espied a paper-wrapped, diminutive can of Underwood Deviled Ham, featuring the very same impish red devil found embroidered on Calista's and my Stubbs & Wootton velvet slippers.  Eureka!  The mystery was solved!

How fortunate it is that Underwood still makes its deviled ham, and still features the same red, pitchfork-wielding little devil on its packaging.  And how clever and amusing it is that Stubbs & Wootton replicated the little creature on its iconic slippers.  How devilicious!

I wonder, though, am I the last one in on this particular joke?

Better late than never, as they say . . .

Photographs by Boy Fenwick


  1. "The devil is in the details" and you my dear have such a devilish charm.

  2. Hello Reggie, Although I have never tasted the substance, I recognized the Underwood devil immediately. It made me think of some other devil logos, such as Red Devil paint and hardware supplies, still in use. Also, I recently bought a can of Mexene spice, which features a cauldron-stirring devil. I'll try to show a picture of it when I get back to posting again.
    --Road to Parnassus

  3. My mother's favorite food:). I can remember the taste. The shoes are perfect for you

  4. Too funny, although I must say, I never would have made that association!

  5. Slippers at a black tie event, and out and about all sounds very strange to me Reggie. Is it the nrm in the US?

  6. Reggie I loved the recent pair with the sun and moon; however the devilish slippers are wonderful and what a conversation starter. The naysayers should know better!

    Feature: “Love Where You Live”

  7. Very 60s...Underwood Deviled Ham and Chicken sandwiches for lunch. A little Best Foods Mayo NOT Miracle Whip, and these were yummy on toast. Another era altogether...Catholic School, Nuns and a Devil!

  8. I hope you bought cans of the ham for yourself and your friend to sit side by side with the shoes in your closets!

  9. In our unwieldy collection of cookbooks we have a copy of The Little Red Devil Recipes. At one point it would seem, they also produced Deviled Tongue. I feel Darlington House should add a Deviled Ham amuse-bouche to it's entertaining repertoire.

  10. How I look forward to your posts and I do remember fondly gold fox head velvet slippers from back in the day ... Ever the trend-setter our Reggie Darling!

  11. This is such a timely and funny post. My husband and I have developed a strange craving for a variety of foods our parents and grandparents ate when we were children. Neither of us liked canned deviled ham or tomato aspic and yet suddenly, we've developed a yearning for both. It was quite a surprise to recently find the little Underwood can at the grocery store. Heaven knows what is really in it!


  12. According to that modern devil known as Mr. Wikipedia, Mr. Underwood created the Original Red Devil Ham in 1868. If it's still on the shelf in 2013, to say it has lasting appeal would be a gross understatement. I'm waiting to hear you say you bought a can and tried it. :-) To the hobos of yore, I'll bet they thought Red Devil Ham on a Ritz cracker was like icing on the cake!

  13. It was on the tip of my tongue,but I too couldnot recall!Happy you found it and bought it to show your "dear readers!"I would love a pair too!

  14. Hmm what makes a salad deviled? I prepared deviled eggs for my lunch the other day, I added chopped olives and the paprika accidentally rained/drenched on/ them. Delish. BTW You have double Diablo velvet slippers.

  15. i love my stubbs and wooten!!
    and how funny are you!!!!
    that is the stubbs devil!!!

    ps thank you for your comment

  16. What a fun post. I remembered Underwood Deviled Ham right away, though I never liked it. Sadly, the Dirt Devil line of vacuums only has the devil's tail, not the entire Prince of Darkness himself. -- Elisabeth

  17. I bought my only pair of Stubbs and Wooten over ten years ago just after I became 60. They are black with a cream skull and crossed swords. I have never worn them without receiving a fun comment about them from someone. I truly enjoy them! They are so fun! I've always been a conservative dresser so those who know me always smile when I wear them. Perhaps they are magic - like the "Red Shoes?"

  18. Those slippers are a fantastic conversation piece, for sure! So glad we saw your post! It's so nice to see all the comments about our deviled ham here too. By the way, Underwood is the oldest trademarked food brand in the U.S., so that devil has been around for a long time!


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