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When a blanket is just not right, try one with sleeves

It's a blanket. It has sleeves. And it's becoming a stalwart on gift lists everywhere.

The "as seen on TV" Snuggie and a competitor known as The Slanket are flying off shelves nationwide. So too are the knockoffs showing up in stores across the country.

"It's a super-popular item," Tom Aiello, a spokesman for Sears and Kmart, said of the Snuggie.

Last year the cult-fostering cozies, which look suspiciously like a monk's ensemble in fleece, rose to fame as the ultimate kitsch gift. But they were available only online or through TV commercials.

This holiday season, thousands of stores are stocking them, and they're so beloved by shoppers that some colors and styles are running out, said Brittany Welch, a spokeswoman for Snuggie maker Allstar Products Group.

"The original blue Snuggie is our best seller," she said in a statement. "The Snuggie blue was the original color and is viewed as the 'signature' color of the Snuggie brand. We believe this style is the one to which most consumers can relate."

Shoppers have bought about 20 million Snuggies since they went on sale in Sept. 2008. Welch said holiday sales figures weren't available but noted that because the products weren't sold in stores last year comparisons are difficult.

Aiello said sales have been strong since Black Friday when Sears made it a door-buster, dropping the price to $9.99 for the day. (It typically sells for $14.99.)

"We haven't really seen it slow down," he said.

Rivals are benefiting from the boom.

Of the 32 Slanket varieties available online for $21.99 to $32.99, more than half are sold out, including adult-sized versions of "The Original Blanket With Sleeves" featuring camouflage, leopard and skull-and-crossbones prints, along with travel Slankets and mini Slankets for kids.

"Sales are great, as usual," said founder Gary Clegg. He said sales have been strong for two years, and the products are sold online, through catalogs, on the QVC shopping network and in some stores.

Even pets are getting the blanket love.

A $9.99 canine-sized Snuggie for Dogs available in pink and blue is one of the best-selling items at PetSmart.