When Patrick O’Grady was asked to market a sustainability forum at the University of Dayton recently, he quickly thought of incorporating Snuggies into his campaign. The fleece blanket with sleeves, mass marketed on television and spoofed on late night shows, has somehow tapped the campus zeitgeist, and college students appear particularly drawn to the Snuggie’s warm, lethargic embrace.
O’Grady, a Dayton student, used Snuggies to promote the university's Forum on Campus Energy Use, where students were invited to suggest ideas -- however seemingly ridiculous -- for conserving energy. In a comic proposal, O'Grady's video asks “What if … instead of giving us heat, the university gave us Snuggies”?
Playing out his proposal on film, O’Grady shot video of students walking across campus in Snuggies or listening to a Snuggie-clad professor giving a lecture. While filming the video, which has been viewed nearly 6,000 times on Youtube, O’Grady learned something about the garment’s popularity.
“We went from place to place on campus, and people were going crazy,” he recalls. “It was like the Beatles were walking by, and it was people in Snuggies.”
Before long, O’Grady’s classmates approached him, asking to be extras in the short film -- and revealing a growing subculture of Snuggie-loving students. But O’Grady says he’s convinced there are even more Snuggie faithful living in the shadows of Dayton’s dormitories.
“I feel like there’s a little Snuggie shame that you’ve spent this money on a glorified blanket with sleeves,” he said. “It’s also lazy. Is it really so hard to take your arm out of the blanket? It’s the epitome of American sloth.”
Source of shame or not, the Snuggie has become a phenomenon among college students -- and among just about everyone else who covets free hands and toasty elbows. Snuggie inventor Scott Boilen recently made the rounds on "Oprah," and the company is now planning to unveil a new line in the fall that will feature university logos.
But will Snuggies have jumped the shark – or couch -- by September? While the Snuggie Pub Crawl movement has picked up steam, students say they’ve had mixed success getting their classmates to hit the bars dressed like the wizard children of Hogwarts.
Amy Bernicchi, a student at the University of Iowa, found few takers when she tried to corral her classmates for a Snuggie pub crawl. While she was excited about the mint green Snuggie her boyfriend bought her recently, Bernicchi discovered the Snuggie craze wasn’t widespread at Iowa.
“Not many people actually had a Snuggie, and they didn’t want to buy them,” she said. “And it was a waste of time so I just gave up on it.”
But one failed Snuggie pub crawl does not a trend make. Snuggie pub crawls have now occurred in upwards of 30 cities, and that’s a source of concern for Eric Davidson, associate director of Eastern Illinois University’s Health Service. Davidson, no fan of bar crawls of any form, says he’s disturbed by any trend that encourages students to drink to excess. He’s realistic, however, that if it isn’t Snuggies, it will probably be something else.
“Regardless of campus,” Davidson wrote in an e-mail, “students are very creative, and whether it’s a Santa Claus bar crawl in which everyone dresses up as Santa Claus, the Snugglie [sic] Bar Crawl, etc; there will probably be some other innovative theme that will be used in the future.”
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Anthropology Open Rank (Assistant, Associate, or Professor) of Anthropology in the College of Liberal Arts