The idea behind the Snuggie is simple – a body-length blanket with sleeves that resembles a bathrobe, only meant to be worn backwards (e.g., with the opening in the back). While the Snuggie was meant to be a gag gift, buyers were attracted to the idea of a sleeved blanket that would keep them warmly wrapped up during those cold months.
More than 30 million Snuggies have been sold since it launched in 2008, thanks in large part to the cheesy infomercial that has driven it to success. A lot of people, including Oprah Winfrey, loved it (and, of course, she promoted it on her talk show).
Check out the five fun facts you may not have known about the Snuggie.
1) “Snuggie” was not actually the first sleeved blanket.
Although Snuggie is probably the best-known blanket with sleeves, it was not the first of its kind. That honor goes to Gary Clegg, the creator of the Slanket, in 1998.
Clegg’s mother sewed him a blanket with a single sleeve to keep himself warm in his cold dorm room while he was still a student at the University of Maine. He later added the blanket with another sleeve, and the Slanket was born.
Clegg brought the Slanket to the market in the mid-2000s, about two years before Snuggie debuted and eventually overtook the country by storm. Clegg said, in an interview with The New York Times, that he labeled the Snuggie as a “cheap knock-off” of his Slanket and added that it “undermines the integrity” of his product.
The man behind the Snuggie, Scott Boilen, didn’t pretend that he invented the concept. Boilen told the same newspaper that he had seen similar products in catalogs for a while, even long before the Slanket came out. He added, “And we thought that if we could put a clever commercial behind it and offer it at a batter price value price, then people would buy it… We would all be in not-great shape if there was still just one car company.”
Many years later, Clegg recalled how upset he was at how Snuggie ended Slanket’s “potential sales from big box stores.” However, there was nothing he could do about it. Besides, he didn’t consider filing a lawsuit against Snuggie because he didn’t have a patent. He said, “Textile patents are hard to protect.” However, he changed his business approach, and since then, his products have been doing well online and on QVC’s.
2) The success of the Snuggie also boosted sales of the Slanket.
Despite Clegg’s disappointment towards the Snuggie, the Snuggie’s success also brought Slanket’s sales on the upswing. Slanket’s sales more than doubled – from $4.2 million in 2008 to an estimated $9 million in 2009. Clegg said, “Their (Snuggie’s) infomercial is raising general awareness about the product.”
3) Even the Snuggie’s inventor was not convinced it would be a success
Boilen’s company – AllStar Marketing Group, which produced the Snuggie – aired the first Snuggie infomercial in the fall of 2008. It was one of the 80 products that they advertised that year. Boilen himself couldn’t have predicted the immediate success of his product. He later told Yahoo Finance: “If you told me we could only test 50 products, the Snuggie might have not made the cut.”
4) Dr. Seuss might have been the Snuggie’s inspiration.
While the Snuggie may have been compared to many things, many people believe that it might have been inspired by Thneed, a garment featured in Dr. Seuss’ children book The Lorax. In the book, Thneed is a highly versatile garment knitted from the Truffula Tree’s foliage and costs $3.98. It is said to be “A-fine-something-that-all-people need.” The word “thneed” has also entered into the English lexicon – it means a useless product advertised as being needed by everyone, but which, in fact, nobody needs. Maybe the truth is the opposite of the Snuggie!
5) Snuggie was one of the products to benefit from social media.
Like many other successful but flash-in-the-pan gag gifts, the Snuggie benefited from the right timing. It came out at the same time when social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were starting to make their presence more important in the business world. Boilen acknowledged social media’s role in increasing awareness of the Snuggie, saying that it was the first product that “really went viral.”