'American Fads: Snuggie Mania'
The "Snuggie" or "Slanket" is one of the more recent fads to sweep America. Essentially an oversized blanket with sleeves, this reverse-robe was designed to help individuals stay warm while maintaining the freedom to use their arms.
One of the earliest incarnations of the sleeved blanket was the "Slanket." According to Slanket creator Gary Clegg, "One subzero night in 1998 during my first semester of college I could not escape Maine's winter bite. While watching Late Night with Conan O'Brien I decided I needed to tear a hole in my sleeping bag so I could keep my upper body warm as I channel surfed during the commercial breaks. During Christmas vacation I commissioned the first Slanket to be made by my mother...and it was born." (Source: http://www.theslanket.com/our-story)
Clegg began making Slankets from home, and selling them to friends and family. In 2003 and 2004 Clegg initiated the patent process, but due to its simplicity, found that the Slanket was not patentable. This meant that other companies could easily copy their product.
Then in 2008, the Snuggie hit the market and took America by storm. Its popularity was driven by the company's marketing strategy. The silly, hokey commercials that advertised the Snuggie attracted American consumers immediately. To watch one of the infamous Snuggie commercials, click here. In addition, the Snuggie was considerably cheaper than the Slanket and other imitations, with a buy-one-get-one deal of just $19.95. Thus, Snuggie mania had arrived.
2009 can be remembered as the year of the Snuggie. Four million of these blankets-with-sleeves were sold in just four months after its release. Comedians and talk show hosts like Jay Leno and Ellen DeGeneres both mocked the sleeved blanket on their respective programs, yet nothing could stop Snuggie mania from sweeping the nation.
Parody Snuggie commercials flooded YouTube, and the Snuggie became a cultural phenomenon. It prompted Snuggie pub-crawls, spots on programs like the Today Show, Oprah and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and a celebrity endorsement from the rock band Weezer. No longer hindered by the burden of having to choose between comfort and practicality, Americans could not get enough of the Snuggie.
These blankets-with-sleeves have remained a popular item among Americans, and are available in a variety of colors and styles. It's now even possible to get your dog a Snuggie! Today, it appears the Snuggie was not just a short-lived fad.
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