So, another theory: the Chunky Dunky’s success is due less to its specific design or quantity than its lineage. Nike’s last eye-poppingly popular release was the Travis Scott Dunk that peaked at $1,522 on StockX. Scott’s shoe was also an SB Dunk designed without restraint—the shoe brazenly mixed plaid and bandana prints. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it shot to the top of every sneakerhead’s wishlist. Forget the design, though—what might matter most is its designation as a Dunk. Because so far, 2020 has been the year of the Dunk: beyond Scott’s and Ben & Jerry’s, to name just a few, Nike’s released the green-and-yellow “Brazils,” a collaboration with Comme des Garçons, and a pair of collegiate editions that borrow colors from Syracuse and Kentucky. “There’s been this massive reemergence around the SB Dunk and particularly the SB Dunk Lows, and obviously Travis was a big part of that,” says Luber. “If it had been reversed, if [the Chunky Dunky] came out before [Scott’s] Dunk, then this one probably wouldn’t be as big.” In other words: the Dunk is being groomed for success, and the Chunky Dunky is the latest and biggest beneficiary of that process.
And the Dunk’s rise is connected to a broader shift in the kinds of sneakers we love. “The reason why the Dunk has always been this canvas for great designs, and is such an iconic shoe, is the same reason the Jordan 1 is: it’s just very, very wearable,” says Luber. He points out that later Jordan models, and even the Kobes that are very popular among pro basketball players today, look like athletic shoes—and basketball shoes now comprise less than 4% of athletic shoe sales, compared to 13% in 2014, according to NPD data. Dunks, on the other hand, have universal appeal—and their popularity in the early aughts makes them ripe for a comeback. “Nike is king at picking winners by selling a story, bringing back a shoe like the Dunk from the graveyard, and catering to a consumer who buys shoes based on pop culture versus athlete recognition,” explains influential sneaker reseller Corgishoe.
I’m willing to admit that the shoe’s success may be a mystery only to me, the old man screaming at Ben & Jerry’s idyllic blue skies. All those kooky colors, Corgishoe says, are carefully calibrated to work together: “Strictly in terms of design,” Corgishoe says, the shoe is “executed incredibly well.” (Still, he notes: “As an adult male of a certain age,” he adds, “I would never consider wearing them.”) Luber is a fan, too. In today’s crowded social media-driven sneaker era, no shoe travels as far as an instantly recognizable one.
But maybe the appeal of the Chunky Dunky is even simpler. I’ve pounded a carton or two of Phish Food in my day—so I guess I should understand that, when it comes Ben & Jerry’s, immoderation to the point of hedonism is kind of the whole point.