A Short History of Coolers

| March 15, 2011

On February 24, 1951, Joliet, Illinois resident Richard C. Laramy invented the first portable ice chest. After filing a patent application with the United States Patent Office, his design received patent number 2,663,157 on December 22, 1953. The Coleman Company took his design even further and popularized galvanized coolers in 1954. Over time, many innovative advances in cooler technology have taken place.

Until the ‘90s, coolers were typically made with plastic exterior and interior shells, which included hard foam between these layers. Cheaper styrene foam coolers were also used, although such disposable coolers have grown out of fashion primarily because they are not environmentally friendly.

While the original coolers were typically used to keep beverages cold, there are currently many variations in cooler technology. One original invention is the “ride-on” cooler, which, as the name suggests, is a cooler that a person can actually ride on. Instead of lugging around a cooler, one can simply sit on it and ride it to their destination.

For less eccentric devices that do not compromise on extra features, there are countless thermally insulated coolers that include several convenient compartments. Coolers made to look like traditional wicker baskets are popular among picnic enthusiasts. For wine connoisseurs, there are cooler bags, including easy-to-carry backpacks, that are insulated and compartmentalized to carry not only bottles of wine, but also glasses, a corkscrew, napkins, cheese plates, and other accessories.

For tea or coffee aficionados, there are innovative coolers that are partitioned off to feature an insulated thermos holder and compartments for mugs. Unlike the name suggests, these carriers are designed to keep coffee or tea hot and not cool.

Thermoelectric coolers currently exist that can be plugged into the cigarette lighter socket of a vehicle. Such containers use the Peltier effect of an electric current in conjunction with an external fan which draws heat away. Interestingly, these coolers can also keep meals hot by reversing the fan’s current. In severely cold climates, this reversed effect can work to keep food items from freezing.

The cooler is known by different names depending on which country you reside in. In New Zealand, they are known as a “chilly bin.” In the United Kingdom, they are commonly called “cool boxes.” In Australia, a genericized trademark name for a cooler is “Esky.” Whatever you prefer to call these useful carriers, the fact remains that they are now widely popular around the world.

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Category: Picnic Shopping Guide

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