Nauga (nô’ge) noun: “adorable little icon of the ’60s” from the original maker of Naugahyde.
Naugahyde (nô’ge-hīd) noun: artificial leather made with vinyl-covered, cruelty-free fabric (naugas naturally shed their “hydes” without harming themselves).
Most popularly found on mid-century stools at the soda counter and booth benches at the drive-in, naugahyde was developed in the United States in the ’30s and experienced a boom in the ’60s. Initially developed by the United States Rubber Company, the Nauga name was born in Naugatuck, Connecticut, where it was first produced and trademarked in 1936. Now owned by Uniroyal Engineered Products, naugahyde lives on.
In the ’80s, folks feared that the beloved nauga was headed for extinction, thus a campaign began in a small, civic-minded middle school in Washington to revive the nauga population and ensure that naugahyde continued to be available on easy chairs and car seats for years to come. This quest did not get too far, and naugahyde soon became referred to as plain old vinyl or “pleather” as other companies replicated the beloved fabric.
Never fear! You just might be sitting on the real deal when you visit the dentist or dine at retro-inspired diners around the country. Or, did you inherit or purchase a retro dinette set and want to recover those worn out chairs? Naugahyde is sold through dealers around the country and online (check out Decorator Supply where you can purchase a bevy of colors by the yard). Retro Renovation offers resources for the thrifty retro guy or gal interested in taking on a recovering project.
And, as for the nauga, you can adopt one and save it from extinction! According to nauga.com, the nauga “makes a wonderful companion and is sure to bring magic to any setting it dwells in.”
Still curious? Find out more about the fascinating history of the naugas at nauga.com.
Alas, the nauga is just an urban myth. You can check out the ugly truth at snopes.com.