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Crocs

Not every one wants to wear 6-inch stilettos. Many just want to be comfortable, but until 2002 they found themselves limited to sneakers and flip-flops. That changed when Crocs came along that year, and the unusual-looking ventilated foam clog became a surprise hit, seemingly from out of nowhere.

The claim that Crocs are unusually comfortable is not just an opinion. In 2006, The Washington Post reported that the shoes are made of a resin foam called Croslite, which the American Podiatric Medical Association said "warms and softens with body heat and molds to the users' feet, while remaining extremely lightweight."

Not everybody was sold. The shoes appeared on Time magazine's "50 Worst Inventions" list, and Maxim magazine said that "Crocs are not acceptable. In any color. EVER." in its list of the 10 worst things to happen to men in 2007. However, Crocs remained popular, and in 2011 the company reported reaching $1 billion in annual sales.

Victor J. Blue | Bloomberg | Getty Images