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Logo for current Shinola brand.
A tin of Shinola.

Shinola is an American brand of wax-based shoe polish that was available from 1907 until 1960. The Rochester, NY-based company sponsored a radio program in 1926-27 featuring a group called "The Shinola Merrimakers", and the original trademark was filed in 1929 by 2-in-1 Shinola-Bixby Corporation, New York.[1][2]

Shinola/Detroit LLC purchased the Shinola name from the defunct shoe polish company, and is now an American manufacturer of watches, bicycles, leather goods, and journals located in Midtown Detroit.[3] The Shinola headquarters and manufacturing facility are located in Detroit inside the College for Creative Studies within the historic Argonaut Building, now known as the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education.[4][5]

In popular culture[edit]

Shinola was immortalized in colloquial English by the phrase "You don't know shit from Shinola" which first became widely popular during World War II.[6]

In the 1979 film comedy The Jerk, the character Navin R. Johnson (played by Steve Martin) is tested by "Daddy" (Richard Ward) on whether he knows the difference between shit and Shinola before leaving home.

Ween released a 2005 compilation album titled, Shinola, Vol. 1 that plays on the colloquial phrase mentioned above.

Dolly Parton wrote the song "Shinola" - which also uses a lyric that plays on the colloqial phrase - for her 2008 Backwoods Barbie album.


  1. ^ [1] USPTO Trademark Applications and Registrations Retrieval: Trademark Serial Number 71292186
  2. ^ [2] USPTO Trademark Applications and Registrations Retrieval: Trademark Serial Number 71298294
  3. ^ "Shinola is Poised to be the Newest Detroit Brand", "Detroit 2020", February 13, 2013
  4. ^ Gallagher, John, "Here's your chance to get limited-edition Shinola watches", "Detroit Free Press", March 14, 2013
  5. ^ Welch, Sherri, "Shinola all wound up for online sales", "Crain's Detroit Business", March 10, 2013
  6. ^ Doesn't know shit from Shinola

External links[edit]