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TheStreet) -- If you watch television, you know the Snuggie, a fleece blanket with sleeves that sells for about $20 at
CVS(CVS - Get Report),
Bed Bath & Beyond(BBBY - Get Report),
Target(TGT - Get Report) and other retailers. The product is advertised heavily enough that it's reached "Kleenex" status in the modern lexicon. To most Americans, "Snuggie" is synonymous with "sleeved blanket."
But the market is packed, due, in part, to the fact that pioneers in the field were unable to patent the idea.
There's the Snug Mee (sold at
Wal-Mart(WMT - Get Report) for $15.95,) the n-a-p Cuddle Blanket ($35 at
Brookstone), The NFL Huddler (on sale at
HSN.com for $9.95) and the Doxie CuddleRoo ($59.95 at
Collectibles Today), a sleeved blanket that sports a front pouch meant to hold a wiener dog, along with the embroidered sentiment "My Dachshund's Love Warms My Heart."
At least two sleeved-blanket products preceded the Snuggie: the Freedom Blanket ($24.99 at
TheFreedomBlanket.com ) and the Slanket ($32.99 at
TheSlanket.com and $33 from
QVC). Each company claims on its Web site that its apparel is "The Original Blanket With Sleeves," although Slanket has trademarked the slogan. With nearly a million Slankets sold to date, it's arguably the second-most successful sleeved blanket on the market. Snuggie sales have reached over 20 million units.
Snuggie's parent company,
Allstar Products Group, acknowledges that Snuggie wasn't the sleeved-blanket pioneer. "Similar products were on the market," says Anne Flynn, vice president of marketing for Allstar. "However, Allstar Products Group brought the product to the masses as a value point, making the Snuggie affordable for anyone's budget."