Our Golden Oprah-tunity

snuggle-sack_03For one shining moment back in 1997, we scaled the highest heights of celebrity, the very pinnacle of publicity, with an unlikely item called The Snuggle Sack.

The Snuggle Sack was the kind of cozy, comfortable but completely shapeless garment that could only have been developed by a company headquartered in a very cold climate. Essentially, it was a footed velour lounger a woman could zip into on a winter Saturday morning and not zip out of until the weekend was over. (Unless her husband got frisky, a remote possibility at best.)

Frankly, it was an item we loved poking fun at, calling it the Struggle Sack, the Snack Sack and the Slumber Shroud, amongst other things. Yes, it was the product we loved to hate, until that crisp fall day when we got a call from…the Oprah Winfrey Show.

OH MY GOD! We tried not to get too excited, but it immediately began causing heart palpitations throughout Lands’ End. Oprah had chosen the Snuggle Sack as an item to feature on her holiday gift show – her most-watched show of the year. It was the Holy Grail of product placement.

Not everyone at Lands’ End was happy about the upcoming event. “Our designers were appalled,” remembers Sue Dahlen, our sleepwear merchant at the time. “They kept saying, ‘Is this how we want to represent Lands’ End?’ But we thought it would be fun.”

Sue got two tickets to the show. “We had no idea how Oprah would feature it, or even if it would get on the show. But she came out wearing it! In Bright Orange!” Cameramen, producers, everyone in the production room was wearing a Snuggle Sack too. Many wore it belted, or with ties around their necks. Everyone in the audience got a Snuggle Sack too – a precursor to some of Oprah’s later, more elaborate giveaways.

Oprah’s dog Solomon even made an appearance on the show wearing our doggie Squall Jacket. It was heady stuff, for sure.

The impact on our phone people in Dodgeville was immediate and over-whelming. Everybody wanted a Snuggle Sack. Sue remembers it as the most successful holiday product she was ever involved with. Thousands of the floppy loungers flew out of the warehouse, making a very cozy Christmas for customers.

Sue still has a Bright Orange one, tucked away in a drawer. “I only wear it on Halloween,” she jokes.

 

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