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Pumpkin Bags Sprouting on Lawns Across America

October 26, 1990

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Not all the pumpkins decorating homes this fall were scooped out and carved into jack-o’-lanterns. Some are 5 feet high, 4 1/2 feet wide and stuffed with leaves.

Giant Stuff-A-Pumpkins, 260-gallon plastic leaf bags with black pumpkin faces, are the rage this Halloween season, ornamenting millions of lawns across America.

″We don’t have any trees in our yard, so we went out one night and robbed the leaves of the people next door,″ said Betty Brown, a West Hartford mother of three whose family of Stuff-A-Pumpkins peer down from her front-porch roof.

″It was fun filling them,″ said her 11-year-old daughter, Jennifer. ″Kids on the bus see them on the roof and they ask me, ’Where’d you get em?‴

The bags are made by Stamford-based Sun Hill Industries Inc.

Sun Hill gave the world those tiny, stick-on digital clocks, plastic banana ears and Cool Sounds, a beach cooler with a radio built into the lid, along with mostly seasonal novelties like floating ghosts, pumpkin lampshade-covers and Easter egg decorating kits.

The Giant Stuff-A-Pumpkin is its biggest seller ever, said Benson Zinbarg, president of the company.

″It’s a self-advertising product,″ he said. ″When people see it on their neighbor’s lawn, they want to have it in their yard.″

One of Sun Hill’s executives dreamed up the idea in late 1988, during one of its brainstorming sessions.

Zinbarg couldn’t get bank financing to develop and market the pumpkin bags. He ended up gambling all his savings and persuading friends to invest.

The bags were in stores last fall, but didn’t take off until this year. They are now sold in nearly every major retail chain, said Zinbarg, a former plastics engineer.

Zinbarg wouldn’t disclose sales figures for his privately held company, but said he will be able to pay off his creditors by next month thanks to the Stuff-A-Pumpkin. His employees can except a nice bonus, too, he said.

Susan Feinberg, a spokeswoman for K mart Corp. in Troy, Mich., said the chain ran out of the bags within a couple of weeks at its 2,100 stores nationwide.

The Giant Stuff-A-Pumpkin sells for $3.98 retail, but can be found for as little as $1.98 in some discount stores.

Sun Hill recently added ″Pumpkin Patch″ bags, in papa, mamma and baby sizes of 32 gallons, 21 gallons and 11 1/2 gallons. Then there’s the Stuff-a- Bat, Stuff-a-Cat and Stuff-a-Witch. But the Giant Stuff-A-Pumpkin is the blockbuster, Zinbarg said.

Stamford-based Sun Hill obtained a patent for its Stuff-A-Pumpkins in August. A few imitations have cropped up, but five manufacturers have agreed to stop producing the phonies, Zinbarg.

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