Such over-ripe stink bombs might be a plague to parents, but they could win the Odor-Eaters Rotten Sneaker Contest, which stomps into the Children's Museum of Denver on Tuesday, July 23. As part of its "Help Kick Out Foot Odor" campaign, the White Plains, New York, foot-care company is sponsoring a nationwide search to find the stinkiest shoes in the U.S. The contest is open to kids between the ages of five and fifteen; besides submitting their funky footwear, they must explain how it got that rank.
"Maybe they got stinky from kids riding bikes with no socks, walking through swamps or stepping in dog poop," says Children's Museum spokeswoman Alaina Sharon. "Everyone knows kids get dirty. Here they have a chance to explain themselves."
A panel of judges will decide which kid has the worst sneakers in Denver. The winner and a parent will then be sent to Montpelier, Vermont, for the chance to win the "Golden Sneaker Award," which includes a $500 savings bond, a one-year supply of Odor-Eaters products and enshrinement of the offending items in the Odor-Eaters Hall of Fumes.
According to an Odor-Eaters survey, 52 percent of people nationwide admit to having smelly feet.
"Oh, man, sometimes we can smell people's feet when they are out in the waiting room," says Carol Kaiser, a medical assistant at the Denver Foot and Ankle Clinic.
So what advice do the pros give to owners of toxic gym shoes? "What makes feet stink is sweat. It's warm and dark inside shoes, the perfect place for ick and ack to grow," Kaiser explains. "Try using antiseptic soap, and wear white cotton socks to keep feet dry."
Naturally, kids are some of the biggest offenders. If your tot's (or teen's) tennies are the worst on the block, call the museum to register; the contest is limited to forty participants on a first-come, first-served basis. Everyone's welcome to watch -- though some might want to keep a safe distance.
"I'm sure glad I'm not a judge in that contest," says Kaiser. "They're going to see a lot of kids with really stinky feet."