Culture

2021 is the year electric blankets are cool again

Today’s plug-in blankets are not the overheating, fire-starting throws that gave your grandmother anxiety back in the day

The urbanite spins a record on the turntable and shakes a cocktail under the soft light of an Edison bulb. Drive-in movie theatres are closed for the season, so what will it be tonight? Maybe a jigsaw puzzle or vintage video games.

All kinds of retro home comforts have kept us cozier during a year of so many nights in. With a long winter ahead, we reckon the humble electric blanket could complete the picture.

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The product was once enough of a household fixture to put Blanky, with his temperature-knob nose, in the ensemble cast of the 1987 animated movie The Brave Little Toaster. (The character is clingy and too sensitive, per the Disney Wiki, but other appliances warm up to him.) Today’s plug-in blankets are not the overheating, fire-starting throws that gave your grandmother as much anxiety as comfort in the postwar era. They’re radiation-free, come with a range of settings and turn off automatically. Only some are plaid.

For outdoor socializing beyond the range of a 15-foot cord, battery-operated options are emerging. These are pricey and hard to find—one recommended American product can only be found in Canada for $600. Cheaper knock-offs are dubious. (A Canadian reviewed a $30, USB-powered blanket on Amazon in November. “Garbage, don’t buy,” Helen wrote. “I’d send it back, but the cat seems to enjoy.”)

With market research reports predicting growth in the “heated bedding” sector, we predict more innovation. Until then, coming in from the cold to an old-fashioned, a Commodore 64 and a heated blanket is a vision we can get wrapped up in.