The Neoprene Dream: The Definitive History of Coogee

In the future, when visitors from faraway galaxies discover our planet and scavenge through the rubble of a once-great civilization, they will no doubt encounter Koozie.

Their alien phalanges brush away the dirt, revealing neon blue squishy relics. They hope to return home, show their tribe the riches they have acquired on their long voyage, and convey the message from their corner of the universe: “I'm not drunk, I'm great.”


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It's safe to assume that almost everyone reading this article has had their own koozie at least once, but it's not the SurveyMonkey everyone wants to own. If you've attended a wedding, barbecue, or lakeside gathering with friends over the past decade, you've probably encountered a coogee.

Decorated with a company logo, a custom hashtag, or a boozy idiom, koozies are a near-convenient and ubiquitous way to keep your cold beer out of your warm hands. It goes by many different names, including coolie, beer sleeve, drink sheath, beer lover, coldie hold, and candam.

Kitschy products are full of epic stories that point to their exact origins. Kooji is no exception. Here's what we (mostly) know:

Drink insulation has been around for centuries, thanks to the oh-so-adorably British tea cozy. But it wasn't until his late 1960s that the concept of keeping beer cold existed.

Australian inventor Alex Lang is believed to have created the first device to chill beer. His product is probably the greatest name in the history of invention, the stubby holder. (Australian beer comes in standard 750ml long-neck bottles or short, chunky 375ml bottles.)

The first iteration of this iconic invention may have come from Down Under, but Coogee's current form is as much about John Deere tractors, bald eagles, and Paul Revere waking people up in the middle of the night. It's American.

In 1980, Idaho inventor Bonnie McGaw filed a patent for an “insulated beverage for use with cold beverage utensils such as 12-ounce beverage cans.” McGaw's design wasn't the cheap darling we use today. She was meant to be stuffed with goose feathers.

But within just two years, Radio Cap Corporation (RCC), a company that specializes in customizable baseball caps, began producing Styrofoam can coolers. To keep costs low and increase efficiency, we switched to more flexible foam and neoprene models. Norwood Promotional Products (NPP) he acquired RCC in 1991 and, in effect, the Koozy brand became the brand known today.

Where do koozies come from?

Official KOOZIE® products are now manufactured in Red Wing, Minnesota. The company's website touts its design as having a “durable, lightweight, leather-like look” and “on-trend colors and stylish design.” There's also a narrated promotional video that they decided was a good idea to make.

Still, it hasn't all been sunshine for the humble drinks industry. The promotional products industry was in mild turmoil a decade ago. In perhaps the least thrilling legal battle ever, trademark owner NPP (a subsidiary of Bic Graphics, the pen and lighter people) is taking on online retailer KustomKoozies for a previously discussed deal. A lawsuit was filed for violating the terms. Add the appropriate subscript to the all-caps K word.

To save you the pain of reading 35 pages of legalese about shitty neoprene, an Indiana judge issued a partial judgment for both: There was a valid contract that KustomKoozies violated, but ultimately Norwood A license agreement that did not provide adequate notice to KustomKoozies before attempting to terminate the agreement.

Shrug emoji.

But that hasn't stopped a legion of entrepreneurial drinkers from doing everything they can to jump on the koozie bandwagon. Over the years, there have been countless imitations, iterations, and variations, including the Chewbacca model, the prohibitively expensive linen koozies, and the Vino Hug to keep wine lovers from feeling left out. There are many others too many to mention in this article. . There's also something for a quiet Saturday of Netflix and downing an entire bottle of Jagermeister.

Questions remain. Are koozies just an easy way to hide the fact that you're secretly still drinking Bud Light, or do they really work? Five years ago, scientists at the University of Washington set out to uncover the actual science involved. Researchers concluded that condensation on the outside of a can or bottle on a hot summer day transfers heat, lowering the temperature of the beverage by nearly 6 degrees Fahrenheit in just five minutes.

“Perhaps the most important thing for beer drinkers is not just to insulate the can, but to prevent condensation from forming on the outside of the can,” said Dale Duran, a professor at Wisconsin State University.

What we can infer from Professor Duran is that summer drinkers have three options. He'll shell out nearly $30 for a high-tech insulation system. Or you can save money and wear old (clean) socks to brighten up your eyes. Or do it the old-fashioned way and just drink it fast.

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