Stay Tuned/Product From Another Planet

From Eccentric Flower


stay tuned

Product From Another Planet
1 February 1998

A couple of days ago, several of us went to dinner at a restaurant which is basically the only thing doing steady business in a decrepit strip mall out in the 'burbs. There was a fairly long wait for dinner, so we amused ourselves in the meantime by checking out some of the Stores That Time Forgot. One of them was a Service Merchandise which had some amazingly stale items on its shelves. How stale? We saw a New Kids On the Block duffel bag there. Honest.

I was forced, against my better judgement, to purchase an odd and embarrassing item, because it was so bizarre that the humor value (and, yes, let it be said, the potential web-column value) overrode any humiliation I would have to endure at actually being seen purchasing the thing.

Here is a judicious sampling of actual copy from the item's accompanying booklet. At the end I will explain what the item itself is, and make a few semi-pertinent comments. I'm not going to put something this long in orange text; you'd hate me. You'll know when the quoted part is finished. Trust me.

Congratulations! You've just adopted a Snuggle Buggle!

Now you're only a few minutes away from being a happier, healthier person! Feel stress melt away as you get to know your cuddly new friend. Snuggle Buggles will delight the senses and nourish your spirit with their:

- Warm and loving friendship
- Calming herbal aroma therapy
- Gentle tension-easing vibrations
- Life-affirming irresistable, cuddly forms
- Kind, sympathetic and understanding companionship

Travel with them anywhere! Let them keep you company while you work, sleep or play.

Why the Snuggle Buggles Walk Among Us

The Snuggle Buggles are peaceful creatures from The State of Snuggle, where healthful relaxation rules. Their life's work is to spread the secret of joyful relaxation throughout the universe. That's why they have jetisioned [sic] themselves from Earth's gentle sister-planet Thera-Peutic to comfort us with their special brand of caring.

They think it's sad that we suffer from tension and stress. Their theory: war and social unrest occur when people get cranky and lose their sense of humor. So they offset those evils by stimulating our relaxation centers with color, aroma, warmth, good vibrations and the subtle technique they call "Affection Projection." [italics theirs]

Benefits Beyond the Physical

The Snuggle Buggles are healers in their own spiritual way. They possess a wonderful secret that transcends physical healing. They call it "Lovenomatterwhat," we translate it as "Affection Projection."

The principle is simple: any love projected on any other being whether real or imagined returns a bonus of healing love to the lover! The more love you give, the more love you get in return. Snuggle Buggles are living, well, sort of living proof of that principle.

So the more love you give your Snuggle Buggle, the more soothing love you'll feel from them! (Remember your teddy bear?) But all good relationships are partnerships; neither one does all the giving or the getting. Each has responsibilities.

There's more. A lot more. I wish I could quote it all.

Let's get a few disclaimers out of the way here first, before I dive in. I just had an argument tonight about alternative medicine, where my basic point is that I don't disagree with it nor disapprove of it; it's the mumbo-jumbo surrounding it that I object to. For what it's worth, I dislike the mumbo-jumbo of the AMA as well; concealment via ritual is the same no matter which group of shamans you happen to be seeing at the moment, and I despise all of it. Full disclosure at all costs! Awareness! Liberty, fraternity, equality! Or something like that.

I can also see the merit in having a small fuzzy animal around, live or otherwise, to lavish attention on. In the same trip to Service Merchandise, I bought a stuffed Eeyore doll, which makes a mournful sighing noise when you squeeze it, because it looked so forlorn sitting by itself with a Clearance tag, and I was seized with the irrational fear that if I didn't buy it, it would be taken to whatever the equivalent is of the glue factory for stuffed animals.


What you get is a small beanbag animal, about eight inches high, with a pocket in its tummy to hold a small orange plastic doohickey. The plastic doohickey takes two batteries and, when switched on, vibrates with whatever limited intensity its three volts can muster. The fabric of the critter is impregnated with a vaguely gardenia-like scent. Mine is a rabbit; it is undeniably cute. The vibrator, though, is feeble alone and even more so through a layer of plush fabric. It would make a lousy muscle massager; it is even less suitable for, shall we say, more earthy purposes, especially when a 110-volt AC Hitachi Magic Wand is sitting in the bedroom nightstand.

Having dragged this matter into the gutter, it is probably worthwhile to quote the third step of the directions for using this gadget, complete with footnote:

Cuddle your Snuggle Buggle against your neck, face, or wherever you carry stress or tension. Abandon yourself to the softness, aroma, and good vibrations. Think happy thoughts, appreciate the universe and love your Snuggle Buggle and they'll do the same for you. Soon you will be relaxed and feeling better.*

* If pleasure persists and therefore becomes unbearably enjoyable, contact someone who makes you tense. Remember, balance is important. You don't want to be too relaxed.

I think that footnote was meant as a joke, but as far as I'm concerned, there is a certain coyness about this paragraph that gives me license to go down the low road. I certainly have no objection about "abandoning myself to softness and good vibrations" but it takes something a little more powerful than an eight-inch stuffed animal with three volts to get me to the point of abandonment.

Back to the point. The next time I get into an argument with someone about New Age beliefs, I'm going to show them this booklet to illustrate exactly what inspires me to fear and loathing. I don't disagree with any of the ideas; what frets me is the presentation.

Muscle massage is good; pleasant scents and soft-feeling things are good; relaxation is good - but why this need to couch all of it in this coating of purest treacle? Why is unabashed sensuality seen as something to be avoided or concealed?

In short, is the wrapper story necessary? I suppose it is from the point of view of the manufacturers. After all, it gives them a leg up on a niche market who otherwise might be convinced to spend their money on an incense burner, some satin sheets or a nice terry-cloth robe, and a vibrator that actually has enough power to do some good. On any part of your body.


[February 2007:] Service Merchandise's web site is perpetually "coming soon."

The Snuggle Buggles are no more, although they do seem to surface on eBay and in similar places once in a while. The company responsible, Relaxor, I believe to be the same Relaxor that was later purchased by Salton, maker of various mid- to low-range small appliances and cookware. But I could be wrong.

I should also point out that while some of Relaxor's other products are a bit touchy-feely, they never before or since seemed to descend to this level. The Snuggle Buggles were an aberration. A reader, who stumbled upon some of their product listings at another web site, noted at the time:

"Be afraid. Be very afraid. The web site copy is worse. Much worse. (And they can't spell, either.) The ... creatures (I will not write that name) are from 'our sister planet, Thera-Peutic.' And it just runs from there. In fact, it gallops. Very fast.

"Relaxor, it seems, also makes 'Calming Pools' [tm] as well as various back and neck massaging products. A very few of the product names are rather icky (most of them are simply numbers), but the advertising copy for everything else is relatively straightforward. Even the ad copy for the Calming Pools isn't that bad. Heaven only knows what possessed them with the stuffed toys."

I have no idea what became of the one I purchased. But I do still have the Eeyore.

and now back to our program

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