The Terrible Towel has been all over the world, from Heinz Field to the Great Wall of China, from Super Bowl games to the Vatican, on top of mountains and under the sea, and everywhere in between.
While it’s magic works wherever it may be, Pittsburgh is its home and that is where it will now be based. The Steelers announced on Tuesday that the Terrible Towel will now be manufactured by Little Earth Productions, Inc., a Pittsburgh-based company that was established in 1993.
“The Terrible Towel comes home,” said Tim Carey, the Steelers’ Merchandise Manager. “Even though the Terrible Towel is a worldwide brand, it starts in Pittsburgh. Little Earth has grown to the point where they have proven themselves to be a great partner in NFL licensed products and they are ready to handle this.”
The Terrible Towel first came into being in 1975 when late Steelers’ broadcaster Myron Cope was looking for something to rally the fans during the playoffs. Three Rivers Stadium and now Heinz Field are a sea of Terrible Towels on game day, and fans proudly have their photos snapped worldwide holding on to their beloved Terrible Towel.
Through the years as the popularity of the towel has taken off, different versions have been introduced to celebrate holidays such as Christmas, Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day, as well as other key things including a pink breast cancer awareness towel, Steelers’ 80th season towel and one honoring the team’s six Super Bowl victories.
“A lot of our fans like to have the whole collection of towels,” said Carey. “The holiday towels people like because it’s the Steelers celebrating the holiday season outside of football.”
And while many sports teams hand out rally towels to fans at games, Steelers’ fans are a different breed and have their own towels.
“When you make a commitment to buy a towel, it’s different than someone handing it to you at a gate,” said Carey. “People bring them to games, they hang on to them, and they keep them for years. Everyone should have more than one. You don’t want your towel to be lonely.”
The twirling Terrible Towels inspire the team, but they have a far deeper meaning for many in the Pittsburgh community. Proceeds from the sale of the Terrible Towel and related products benefit NHS Allegheny Valley Schools and the AVS Foundation, which cares for children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Since 1996 sales of the Terrible Towel have raised more than $4 million for the foundation.
“Fans realize how much it benefits more than the team when they buy a towel,” said Carey. “There is a sense of giving back because of the ownership of the towel. They feel like they have done something more than just root for the team. They are helping the community.”
History of the Terrible Towel