The Snuggie has been on the market since 2008—but until recently, nobody officially knew whether the fleece coverlet with sleeves was a blanket or a clothing item. On February 10, Bloomberg BNA reports, the U.S. Court of International Trade settled the question once for all: The novelty item is, in fact, a blanket.
This distinction may seem inconsequential to Snuggie owners, but it’s important for Allstar Marketing, the group that sells them. As legal website LawNewz explains, blankets and clothing items are subject to different tariffs. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection had previously placed the Snuggie in the "robes or priestly vestments” category. These items face a 14.5 percent tariff, while blankets only face an 8.5 percent tariff. This classification wasn't good for Allstar Marketing's bottom line, so they objected.
The decision ultimately came down to Judge Mark Allen Barnett of the United States Court of International Trade. Barnett ruled that the Snuggie should be labeled as a blanket for tariff purposes, dismissing the Justice Department’s argument that the item was similar to wide-armed, loose garments like priestly vestments or scholastic robes. The Snuggie is different, Barnett countered, since it opens in the back and doesn’t have closures.
Plus, Barnett pointed out, the Snuggie is marketed as a blanket. The item’s tagline is “The Blanket With Sleeves!” and its packaging portrays people donning the Snuggie “in the types of situations one might use a blanket; for example, while seated or reclining on a couch or bed, or outside cheering a sports team,” Barnett wrote in his decision. Its sleeves simply allow the Snuggie "to remain in place and keep the user warm while allowing the user to engage in certain activities requiring the use of their hands.”
Barnett's ruling means that importers get to pay a lower import tax when they ship Snuggies into the country—a fact that’s sure to make Allstar Marketing executives feel as warm and fuzzy as the product they sell.