So where does Naugahyde come from? From the Nauga, of course.
Uniroyal Global Engineered Products Inc., the maker of the branded synthetic leather, is celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Naugahyde trademark this year and releasing a commemorative Nauga doll to mark the occasion.
The company applied for a federal trademark in 1936.
The dolls were created in the 1960s as part of an advertising campaign to boost sales of the company’s vinyl-coated fabric.
The campaign told the story of the fictional Nauga, a creature that sheds its “hyde” without harming itself. The Nauga character even appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” The dolls were sold as a special offer for $1 with the purchase of a Naugahyde-covered recliner.
Naugahyde is actually a portmanteau of Naugatuck, Conn., where the material was first made, and “hyde” as a play on animal hide.
After being heavily promoted, the Naugahyde trademark became nearly synonymous with vinyl upholstery. The leather substitute, along with the fictional Nauga, became common fodder for comedians and others. Some folks may have even thought the Nauga was real.
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