Gary Clegg said it began in 1998, when he was a freshman at the University of Maine in Orono and living in a chilly dormitory. He cut a hole in his sleeping bag because his TV remote wouldn’t work through the fabric, and subsequently asked his mother to sew a sleeve onto it, he said. Mr. Clegg added a second sleeve and otherwise refined the design in the ensuing years.But it is the Snuggie that has captured our imagination. The place of honor in our culture belongs to the best advertiser:
In October, the company started showing the two-minute infomercial, where Snuggie wearers read, knit and eat popcorn, while a Snuggies-ensconced family cheers in the stands at a football game. Allstar bought more than $10 million in television spots, which offer the Snuggie for $19.95. (The Slanket — larger and made from considerably thicker fleece — costs $44.95.) The ad, by Blue Moon Studios, is intentionally over the top, Mr. Boilen said.Can Clegg sue? No, he doesn't think so, and anyway he won't.
“We were definitely in on the joke,” he said. “Do we expect a family to wear these to a football game? No.”
Hundreds of videos on YouTube parody the ad, with the most popular garnering more than a million views.
“Certain products transcend advertising and become an indelible part of popular culture,” Mr. Boilen said.
Mr. Leno’s quip about the products looking like bathrobes worn backward, [patent lawyer Clifford A.] Ulrich said, actually resonates legally: because there are many products that are shapeless garments with sleeves, like hospital gowns or religious vestments, and because the sleeved blankets are neither made from innovative materials nor have complicated moving parts, there is little that is proprietary about them from a design standpoint.And, actually, even Slanket wasn't first. There was also Freedom Blanket, but Clegg invented his invention independently:
“I would never go around saying that I came up with something if it wasn’t true,” Mr. Clegg said. “I would have no right to be annoyed with the Snuggie people if that was the case.”The problem is that the invention was so obvious that it was destined to be invented and reinvented by an endless chain of couch potatoes who wanted to change the channel and felt conflicted: What is worse, this show or the pain of a slightly cold arm?