First in our series of ten blog post blasts from the past

To kick off this new version of JoeBlogs, I’m going to re-run 10 of the most popular posts that have run through the years. This Snuggies post originally ran in January 2009. That is a long time ago. I am no longer 42.

As everyone here certainly knows, I love infomercials. It’s a sickness, I know, but I’m turning 42 this week, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m probably not changing much from here on in. And I love infomercials. I have spent way too many hours in my life sitting in a recliner and watching people sell:

  1. The miraculous Pasta Pot that has little holes on top so that you can drain the boiling hot water without ever taking the pasta out of the pot. Amazing! It goes without saying that I bought one. It’s great. The only drawback is that the top really doesn’t stay on all that well so your chances of scalding yourself while trying to to pour out the water is roughly 1 in 2. Current use: Planter.

  2. The revolutionary wok-like pan device that allows you to cook food in steam. Make pasta dishes in a snap! Steam the greenest vegetables ever! It goes without saying that I bought one. It’s great. The only drawback is that it would be indistinguishable from the wok we already had except that it’s so much more cheaply made. Current use: Space eater in pantry.

  3. The Magic Bullet. Tiny blender allows you to make awesome smoothies, delicious cheese cake and the famous six second scrambled eggs! It goes without saying that I wanted one. Sadly, my family never let me buy one.

  4. The Infinity Razor. It’s a razor that comes with a lifetime guarantee, meaning you will NEVER need to replace it. Ever. It will stay sharp forever. And, my favorite part of the deal, if you bought went they give you one free because, um, yeah, even I wasn’t stupid enough to buy one/two.

  5. The magical-white stuff that makes scratches on your car disappear forever. Do you have a scratch on your car? Of course you do. Well, put this white goop on the scratch, buff it with this incredibly flimsy shammy-type device that rotates the soft pad at speeds up to 1 revolution per minute — seriously, this thing moves around about as fast as those plastic little kiddie toy windmills* — and, voila, the scratch is completely gone, your car is just like new, only not so much. It goes without saying I bought one. Current use: Lost in garage.

*I never understood why toy windmills were supposed to be fun. Hey, look, I can make this spin around! I mean, how many minutes of entertainment can even the smallest kid get out of that? It’s like that party favor that you blow, and the little paper unwinds and you hear that kazoo sound …

But, after being set straight by Holly and Mechelle I now have a new favorite infomercial commercial. I appreciate that I’m a bit late to the party … but let me be the millionth person to say it: That Snuggie Blanket has to be the most amazing commercial I’ve ever seen on television.

I know you have seen this thing over and over already, but just in case, here is the idea: The Snuggie is a blanket with sleeves. I’m not saying that as some vague description, that’s their slogan. Snuggie: The Blanket With Sleeves.

Now, at first glance, you may think: Hmm, a blanket with sleeves. Sounds like, I don’t know, a SWEATSHIRT. Or a SWEATER. Or a FLEECE PULLOVER. But the magic of the Snuggie is not in the innovation. It is in the way they sell it.

Scene 1: Woman sitting on couch in thin white sweater of some kind. She appears to be cold based on the way that she is shivering while crossing her arms. The narrator offers a quite reasonable couplet:

You want to keep warm when you’re feeling chilled
But you don’t want to raise your heating bill.

The raising of the heating bill is symbolized by a cartoon arrow with dollar signs on it going up in the air and the sound of a cash register bell going off. Our story has begun. Tension has been set in motion. This early scene is shot in stark black and white, like it’s “Double Indemnity.”

Scene 2: Woman lays down on couch, and she’s trying so hard to cover herself in a thread-bare blanket but she can’t. The blanket simply will not cooperate. The narrator jumps in: “Blankets are OK, but they can slip and slide.”

I love the early concession — Blankets are OK. They want to make it clear: This is not an attempt to put blanket people out of business. There is a cordless telephone next to the woman* … this will play a key role in our next scene.

Scene 3: Woman TRIES to reach for the phone. But the blanket will not allow her to get it immediately. It takes at least 0.8 seconds for her to get the phone.

The narrator says: “And when you need to reach for something, your hands are trapped inside.”

This has to be the single greatest moment in television history, this moment when an actress attempts to demonstrate how difficult it is to reach for a telephone when your hands are trapped inside a blanket. She makes O.J. trying on the glove look like Coppola in Godfather III. She tries to reach for the phone, she so honestly tries, but she can’t quite get it right away.

Then she has the most priceless look in the world, this look that says: “Oh, wow, haven’t we all been here, trying to get that doggone phone when we’re wrapped in a blanket, oh, if they can put a man on the moon and find a cure for polio, why oh why can’t they find a way to free my hands from a blanket.”

Scene 4: Everything bursts in full color! It’s like “The Wizard of Oz!” And the narrator says: “Now, there’s the Snuggie. The blanket that has sleeves!”

The woman demonstrates by putting on this red robe type thing that you put on the same way that you put on hospital gowns. Narrator: “The Snuggie keeps you totally warm, and gives you the freedom to use your hands.“

And it’s true! Our actress demonstrates how easy it is to reach for the phone while wearing the Snuggie — it is easy. And she has this wonderful smile on her face, one that says: ”Yes! American technology!“ It seems a tad bit unfortunate that she is using a cordless phone, but I’m guessing people with 1989 cordless phones would probably be the target audience.

Follow-up scenes: Man in Snuggie who looks like Friar Tuck sits in a recliner and shows conclusively that the Snuggie does not constrict remote control freedom of movement … Older woman in Snuggie reads a book (but you say: Isn’t it too dark there to read a book? Just wait! We have something for that!) … Fairly young man wearing Snuggie works on his computer while the narrator says, ”Use your laptop without being cold!“ … Friar Tuck is back, this time he’s hungry and wants to have a bowl of popcorn — and he CAN because the Snuggie has sleeves.

Product Close-up of Snuggie: A hand goes lightly over the top while narrator tells us about the Snuggie’s softness.

Older woman is back, now she’s knitting with the Snuggie which seems an odd thing to do since I thought the whole point of the Snuggie is that actual CLOTHES have become obsolete. … Original woman is back now, and she’s reading a book to a young girl who looks absolutely nothing like her but is apparently supposed to be the daughter. The daughter wears a Snuggie too.

A new slogan, ”Wrapped in Warmth!“ appears on the screen.

The Snuggie has endless slogans.

And so on. There are some amazing follow ups — a man and a woman stand next to each other, both wearing Snuggies, looking like they are in some kind of monastery; a woman proves she could hold a baby OR a dog with her Snuggie; there’s a campfire scene right out of the ”Blair Witch Project With Snuggies;“ a young woman sits in her college dorm room wearing a Snuggie, apparently content to live a dateless life on campus and so on.

And then, believe it or not, there are two scenes that top all the rest:

First scene: This is of the whole family — the guy who from the laptop, the woman who trapped in the blanket at the start, their daughter who looks nothing like either one — all of them at a ballgame, surrounded by people dressed in normal clothes. There they are, the three of them, in the middle of it all, wearing these preposterous Snuggies, looking like they are in some sort of frightening fleece cult. It’s no wonder the people around them try desperately to watch the game and ignore the dangerous Snuggie Family. It’s like a Cohn brothers movie.

Second scene: The narrator says: ”Similar products sell for up to sixty dollars.“ I appreciate that every infomercial must have the ”similar products“ line. But in this case, well, first — similar products? Really? There have been previous unsuccessful attempts to sell the blanket with sleeves? And second — these failed entrepreneurs decided that sixty dollars was about the right price point? The narrator then offers the Snuggie for the amazing price of $14.95, which really is an amazing price.

The commercial then reiterates the many features of the Snuggie — it has sleeves, you can use your remote, it will keep you warm, it has sleeves — and then comes the “And if you act now” bonus — if you act now you can get a compact, press-and-open book-light, apparently so Grandma in her Snuggie can read the third Twilight* book without raising her electricity bill.** That’s a $15 value absolutely free.

*Wow, a Twilight reference. This really WAS a long time ago.

*I often wonder how they decide which cheap contraption gets to be the main item and which one has to be the lousy bonus prize. Like, couldn’t this have been a whole commercial about the ”press-and-open book-light,“ and as a bonus you get the blanket with sleeves? I’m sure they have market analysts who study it.

For people like me who love infomercials, this is Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, this is The Contest, this is Starry Night, this is the best there has ever been — utterly worthless product based on entirely absurd premise sold by actors who are apparently from outer space. It’s a masterpiece. And I should add that my 7-year-old daughter Elizabeth just came in her and watched the infomercial and said, ”I want a Snuggie.“ I’m beaming. Like father like daughter.