How I Fell in Love With the Snuggie

Like reporters at many serious news outlets, I was intrigued by the Snuggie phenomenon. How did this "supersoft" fleece blanket with sleeves became a cult phenomenon and an Internet obsession? I quickly requested samples of the product, and began some exhaustive research, taking my sweet time while I worked on other projects.

But then, an odd thing happened, something I never expected. I fell in love.

Like all relationships, it's hard to chart how this one started. I remember walking into my cubicle one day and realizing that I was now the owner of two Snuggies and four Slankets—the Snuggie's older, wiser archrival (thanks, overzealous public-relations folks). January was especially cold this year in New York, and my new apartment was unexpectedly drafty. Quickly, Snuggie (sorry, Slanket) came home with me to share with my roommates.

From there, it was a coup de foudre, one I probably shouldn't be sharing with the world at large. I would come home from work, and one of my roommates would be splayed on the couch, covered in Snuggie, with remote control in one hand and Lean Cuisine in the other. Those sleeves truly worked wonders. Later, we cleaned the apartment and I folded up our new friend and put him in the corner, only for my other roommate to walk in and declare, "Something is missing from the living room."

Then, there was Valentine's Day. Here's how I described my magical evening on Twitter: "Decided to stay in Saturday night—or, if you prefer, Valentine's Day—my dates: pizza, "Law and Order" and the only couch buddy I really need: SNUGGIE!!" (Yes, nerds, this tweet is longer than 140 characters … I took out the abbreviations.)

This is pathetic, I know. But clearly, I wasn't alone: Snuggie has sold more than 4 million units since the infomercial became a YouTube hit a few months ago. Before that, Slanket had been a sleeper hit on home-shopping channels. But with a higher price tag (the Slanket sets you back $50, versus Snuggie's $15) and without a hyperbolic infomercial, the Slanket never quite took off.

The best man doesn't always win. Earlier this week, NEWSWEEK asked tourists and New Yorkers to evaluate both products. Though few had heard of the Slanket, the product was the hands-down winner. More interesting was the joy on people's faces when they found out they'd even have a chance to try on a blanket with sleeves. "I can't believe I have on a Snuggie!" screamed one girl. Meanwhile, back at work, I made more friends than ever as several tried to beg, borrow or steal from my Slanket stash. Trying on the Snuggie became the hot party game at one after-work happy hour. (As a reminder, editors: the photos recorded at that event should make for good blackmail material.)

What a wonderful world: where a blanket with sleeves is exalted under the bright lights of Times Square. Visitors of days past have swooned over the Naked Cowboy, the discounted Broadway TKTS booth or MTV's "Total Request Live" (may you rest in peace). But this is a new era—and Snuggie is our security blanket.

That makes sense. We spend everyday of our lives learning about the latest terrible economic news: the Dow plummeting, unemployment rates rising or Bernie Madoff's scamming. Even if we're not personally feeling the strain, there's a buzz in the air that tells us to stay home, to relax on the couch, to cook our own dinner—to squirrel up and save for a rainy day. For those who have lost their job, there's depression and the desperation of seeking new work. Since November, when Snuggie took off and President Obama was elected, it's gone downhill. And right now, we just want to be hugged—or Snugged, if you will.

So hunker down, save your money, yet still feel like you're a part of the Zeitgeist. Let Snuggie and Slanket smother you. It sure beats last winter, when I found myself watching "Lars and the Real Girl," in which Ryan Gosling falls in love with a sex doll. Because this time, I got my own love story.