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Packaging Company To Bill NBC After Letterman Lampooning

November 14, 1985 GMT

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ The company that sells ″Meat Bags″ mocked by comedian David Letterman said Wednesday it wants NBC-TV to reimburse it for the expense of handling a rash of calls generated by the nationally broadcast lampoon.

When Letterman poked fun at the product last week on his ″Late Night with David Letterman,″ officials of Packaging Sales Inc. first thought the exposure would help boost sales and even planned to send Letterman some of the bags.

But 2,000 people called the Minnetonka company, which supplies packaging for the food industry, said company president John Charlton.

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Some callers said they wanted to buy one bag, others a gross, said vice president Dean Garrett said. The avalanche of queries, which resulted in no actual orders, caused extra work for the company’s six employees, said Charlton, who estimated the company’s expenses at $1,000 to $2,000.

″A lot of them will just start this chant: ’meat bag, meat bag,‴ he said. ″You can see why we’re frustrated.″

Regular customers, whose orders generally range from 18,000 to 30,000 bags, had trouble getting through the tied-up phone lines.

″I think we’re definitely due some compensation,″ said Charlton.

Drew Kastner, an attorney for NBC, said the network had not been contacted by Packaging Sales, but would consider its request.

″I don’t want to resolve a claim in the press before we get it,″ Kastner said.

The televised sketch made fun of an ad Packaging Sales recently placed in a trade publication.

″You need ‘Meat Bags,‴ the ad read. ″We specialize in one thing - your ’Meat Bags.‴

Although the company’s address and local phone number were blocked out on the TV screen, its toll free number - 1-800-MEATBAG - remained visible for several seconds.

Packaging Sales was not the only product to be featured in the segment. Letterman also ridiculed the ″Same-day Hernia Repair Center″ and a ″Doggy Style Show.″

To add insult to injury, Charlton said he found that to get a tape of the show he would have to pay NBC $350 and sign a stack of documents saying he would not use the material for promotional use.