A sock monkey is a stuffed toy made from socks and fashioned in the likeness of a monkey. Sock monkeys hold an important place in the culture of North America as a symbol of ingenuity.
The iconic sock monkeys made from Red-Heel socks emerged at the earliest in 1932, the year the Nelson Knitting Company of Rockford, Illinois added the trademarked red heel to its product. Nelson Knitting added the red heel "de-tec-tip" to assure its customers they were buying "original Rockfords". This red heel gave the monkeys their distinctive mouth. The original brown heather color of the rest of the sock makes the monkey's coat.
Around 1951 the knitting company discovered their socks were being used to make monkey dolls. In 1953, Nelson Knitting became involved in a dispute over the design patent on the sock monkey pattern. They were awarded the patent in 1955, and began including the pattern with every pair of socks.