The History of Koozies: Who Invented These Can Holders?

Alyssa Mertes

Promo Expert

Published: July 23rd, 2020

Koozies have origins all over the world, starting in 19th century Britain, moving to Australia, and eventually ending up in a patent war in the United States! You probably didn't think a piece of foam could have so much history.

So why exactly was the koozie created? Let's give this party favorite its moment in the spotlight!

Quote

Koozies are more than just a classic promo item – they’ve been loved by Americans since the 80s. They have a long lifespan, spark nostalgia, and remind people of fun times with their favorite brands. Not to mention, they work!

– Carrie L., Communications Specialist at BIC Graphic

Hour Glass

History of Koozies Timeline

Today, the koozie is a staple of backyard barbecues and tailgates all over the world, but where did it come from? Take a look at its fascinating history!

  • 1921

    1921 https://www.google.com/patents

    David and Russell Duncan filed a patent for “a cozy for portable gas generators.” Eventually, these “huggies” made the transition from their original industrial use to our favorite drinks.

  • 1929

    1929 https://www.google.com.gi/patents

    William Waggoner from Kansas City introduced his wrapping jacket for packing and shipping linoleum. This jacket served as a protective covering to use instead of heavy crates or boxes.

  • 1977

    1977 http://www.freepatentsonline.com

    Stanley R. Moore of Dallas, Texas filed a patent for his refrigerated beverage holder. This cylindrical sleeve can be frozen in any refrigerator, keeping a beverage cold while it’s consumed outdoors.

  • 1980s

    1980s Source: coolaz.com.au

    Australia kicked off the koozie craze with their Stubby Holders. These short, stout sleeves are named after the popular bottle sizes found down under.

  • 1981

    1981 https://www.birchbox.com

    Bonnie McGough of Caldwell, Idaho filed a patent for an insulated sleeve she called a "cozy." Her design inspired many other companies to create their own versions in the future.

  • 1985

    1985 https://www.whiteysicecream.com/

    Whitey’s Ice Cream Manufacturers, a small shop in Moline, IL, filed a patent for their own custom koozie. This was a paper sleeve used around their delicious malts and shakes so the candy would stay inside.

  • 1987

    1987 https://www.google.com.gi/patents

    Scott Henderson of Plano, Texas filed a patent for a fold-up insulated beverage container. This was the first design that was completely collapsible while also being able to stand upright on a table.

  • 1993

    1993 https://www.google.com.gi/patents

    Joel Carlson filed a patent for his own insulated beverage cup sleeve. In the patent, the felt sleeve is said to be “simple to use, inexpensive, and reusable.” Just like the best promo products!

  • 2003

    2003 https://www.google.com.gi/patents

    Kyle Brandon Jones is credited with the invention of the Krazy Koozie. This insulated container easily expands and contracts around a variety of bottles, cans, and cups.

  • Late-2000s

    Late-2000s https://www.qualitylogoproducts.com

    Koozie makers started getting creative with their designs and imprints. For instance, this boot-shaped koozie makes for a great giveaway at a country-themed dive bar or rodeo.

  • 2016

    2016 http://odditymall.com

    Bevometer is a digital upgrade to the traditional foam or neoprene can cooler. This koozie tracks the number of drinks you’ve consumed when it’s in use.

Who Invented the Koozie?

In America, the first koozie was invented by Bonnie McGough and patented in 1981. However, during that same time, Texas-based Radio Cap Corporation (RCC) began mass-producing their own version. This set the momentum for the future, with patents flying left and right for different versions of insulated sleeves.

Who Invented the Koozie?

Despite all the trouble in their origins, koozies have been valuable advertising items since their inception. The first koozies were used to promote welders’ unions, U.S. States, pop culture characters, the Olympics, car dealerships, weddings, and even funeral homes!

Did you know?

Koozie is a genericized term. This means it's used as an everyday word in the English language to describe beverage insulators and can/bottle wraps. The trademark for "Koozie" expired in 2001.

What is a Tea Cozie? http://churchmouseyarns.com

What is a Tea Cozie?

A tea cozie is a knit sleeve designed to keep tea kettles and cups nice and warm! Before koozies became mainstream products, Victorians in the 1800s used tea cozies to keep their tea kettles warm.

In the 19th century, the Duchess of Bedford, Anna Russel, introduced tea parties to entertain guests before mealtime. The tea would often get cold during these social gatherings due to the lively conversations. The solution was a knit tea cozie! These were often hand embroidered and became a fashionable addition to afternoon tea.

Did you know?

During World War II, British soldiers were encouraged to knit tea cosies to avoid boredom.

Is it Koozie or Cozy?

Is it Koozie or Cozy?

The short answer is that both are correct, however, the difference between the two has to do with how you use it! A cozy (or cosy) keeps the heat in, while a koozie keeps heat out. For example, a tea cozie is designed to go over a tea pot to keep the tea warm. A koozie slides on a bottle or can to prevent outside air from warming the drink.

Who Invented the Stubby Holder? https://australiadaysa.com.au

Who Invented the Stubby Holder?

In Australia, Shane Walsh invented a “stubby holder” in the mid-1970s. Down under, this is the name for a koozie due to its short, squat design. The Stubby Holder became particularly popular with surfers who used these foam drink sleeves as they hit the waves.

Today, the Stubby Holder remains a popular advertising item in Australia. They come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, keeping them fresh and always exciting as marketing materials.

What is a Stubby Holder Called in America?

In America, a Stubby Holder is commonly called a can cooler or a koozie. A Stubby Holder and a koozie both refer to the same cylindrical-shaped sleeve you slide on your drink to keep it cold!

Who Invented the Collapsible Koozie? Scott Henderson with the original collapsible koozie, circa 1987

Who Invented the Collapsible Koozie?

Canhandlers International introduced the very first collapsible koozie in the 1980s. The inventor, Scott Henderson, created a portable design that made it easy for the koozie to be stored in a pocket, bag, or cooler without taking up too much space.

The collapsible koozies at Canhandlers were extremely popular with the NFL and state colleges. Fans loved using koozies decorated with their favorite mascot, team logo, or school name. Eventually, the collapsible koozies also became popular with other industries, such as banks, realtors, and most notably, KERA channel 13 news in Dallas who gave away custom koozies in exchange for donations to their station.

Unfortunately, Canhandlers eventually went out of business. The can holders were heat-sealed and looked smooth, but the foam on the inside didn’t hold up very well due to moisture. Still, they contributed enormously to the future of koozies.

Quote

The koozie is functional, relatively low cost, and reusable. People are interacting and using this product, particularly in their downtime which is a good place to be when you’re advertising.

– Scott Henderson of Canhandlers International

What is a Bevometer? http://www.thebevometer.com

What is a Bevometer?

Invented by Justin Richmond, the Bevometer is a drink counter that tracks the number of drinks you’ve consumed in a lifetime! It works like an automatic scoreboard, tallying each new can as it slides into the sleeve.

Richmond was inspired to create this fun item after seeing his dad’s beat-up Budweiser koozie. Believing fully in the value of a good koozie, Justin’s dad held on to this Budweiser sleeve for over 35 years. It started as a family joke and eventually turned into a full-blown enterprise. To date, Richmond’s company has sold around 20,000 digital Bevometers with no plans of slowing down.

If you’re interested in monitoring your soda intake or just want to make sure you won’t need an Uber at the end of the night, the Bevometer has your back!

Quote

When you have a good product, eyes are immediately drawn to it. If somebody has their logo on something like the Bevometer, it’s going to be completely visible.

– Justin Richmond creator of Bevometer

The Bottom Line

While it may not be the most glamorous item, the custom koozie has a special place in the world of promotional products. Whether you’re using a polyurethane coldy-holdy, a rubber stubby holder, or a stainless steel coastie, your next promotional event will be that much cooler thanks to these insulated beverage holders.

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products. As a promo expert, she's uncovered the world's first custom tote bag, interviewed the guy behind rock band ACDC's logo, and had a piece published by the Advertising Specialty Institute, a leader in the promotional products industry.

References

Baird, Sarah. (2015, August 6). A Brief History of America's Favorite Beer Companion, the Koozie. Retrieved January 28, 2020, from
https://www.eater.com/drinks/2015/8/6/9109317/a-brief-history-of-americas-favorite-beer-companion-the-koozie

Coolaz. (2019). What is a Stubby Holder? Retrieved January 28, 2020, from
http://www.coolaz.com.au/stubby-holder-history/

Countlan. (2013, March 13). History of the Tea Cosy. Retrieved January 28, 2020, from
http://countlan.com/2013/03/13/history-tea-cosy-tea-pot-warmer/

Radical Tea Towel. (2014, June 6). History of the Tea Cosy – From Duchesses to WW2 Soldiers. Retrieved January 28, 2020, from
https://blog.radicalteatowel.co.uk/2014/06/06/history-of-the-tea-cosy-from-duchesses-to-ww2-soldiers/

Swan, Cody. (2014, April 24). 5 Things We Bet You Didn’t Know About Koozies. Retrieved January 28, 2020, from
https://countryshoreoutfitters.com/blogs/news/13891101-5-things-we-bet-you-didnt-know-about-koozies

Online Beer Coolers. (2010, February 24). The Invention of Koozies. Retrieved January 28, 2020, from
https://www.onlinebeercoolers.com/tag/coozy/

Eaton, Scott. (2014, March 18). A Brief History of Stubby Holders. Retrieved January 28, 2020, from
https://www.imagepak.com.au/a-brief-history-of-stubby-holders/