A Fun History of Promotional Products: The Koozie

Young woman drinking from can with blue branded koozie

Can you truly enjoy a cold drink on a hot day without the help of a koozie? While that may be up for debate, what’s not is that koozies, particularly branded koozies, are in high demand.

The koozie may be commonplace, so much so that you’ve probably never wondered where they originated. So, take a seat, grab a cool drink, and let’s dive into the fun history of the koozie.

The Down Under Stubby Holder

Man with surfboard on beach Australia
Rumor has it that the first koozies were developed by Australian surfers in the 1970s.

While many popular promotional products can trace their origins back for centuries, the koozie was first seen just a few decades ago. It’s believed that surfers in 1970s Australia originally popularized the use of an insulated drink holder to keep their beverages cool. Whether or not surfer dudes were involved, Australians remain happy users of the “stubby holder,” the down under equivalent of a koozie.

Origin of The Koozie Name

The term “koozie” itself is one of those words like “Band-Aid” that’s come to refer to not just one manufacturer of the item, but also as a stand-in term for the item itself. According to the official Koozie website, the modern koozie was born when a construction worker in Texas discovered that tubing insulation was the perfect size to fit around a standard can. And, it had a dual purpose—the worker found that his drink stayed cool, and he didn’t get wet hands from the normal buildup of condensation.

The construction worker knew he’d stumbled onto something big. So much so that he was soon unable to keep up with the manufacturing demand. In 1980, the Radio Cap Company filed a patent for the term “Koozie,” taking over production. They began making koozies in all different colors, and imprinting logos, text, and artwork onto the koozie material.

Branded Koozie with Cape Decoration
Not all heroes wear capes, but some koozies do!

Another patent was filed in 1981 by an Idaho woman named Bonnie McGough, for an “insulated beverage cozy.” McGough’s version had an inner and outer wall attached with a space in between to hold an insulating material. She recommended goose down as a possibility.

While down koozies never took off, her patent suggests an origin for the word “koozie.” Across the pond in Great Britain, knitted covers for tea pots have long been called “cozies.” A koozie serves the same insulating purpose as a tea cozy, though one is designed to keep beverages cool and the other keeps tea hot.

What’s a Koozie Made From?

The first koozies were made of puffy, rigid foam. In the 1990s, softer, more flexible foam and neoprene were the materials of choice.

Koozie with Zipper

But, standard style koozies suffered from one drawback—they didn’t fit all bottles and cans! Recently, a greater variety of koozie styles have become available, including zip-up koozies to fit long neck bottles and slap on koozies that will fit around the exact circumference of your drink container. There are even classy leather koozies that can be debossed for a high-end look.

Koozies have even been the topic of scientific research! The University of Washington took a crack at the koozie in 2013, looking to determine whether they actually work. Good news—science shows that by preventing the build up of condensation on a beverage, koozies do in fact work effectively at keeping drinks cooler for longer.

Branded Koozies

Slap Wrap Branded Koozie
Slap on koozies can adjust to fit a variety of can and bottle sizes.

When you see a koozie today, there’s a big chance it’s decorated with a logo or tagline. They’ve become not only a useful accessory, but a chance for the user to make a statement, about almost anything that matters to them. While beverage companies and restaurants may be the obvious brands to give out koozies, they’ve become an item of choice for sports teams, vacation spots, special events, and wedding favors as well.

A koozie offers a bright canvas for printing your logo that’s going to be used and seen. They’re a generally inexpensive promotional item that’s ideal for giveaways or resale. Making an appearance on boats, beaches, and at barbecues, they are popular with a wide audience. And, they’ll remain popular throughout the fall as we celebrate cider season!

Interested in branded koozies for your next marketing campaign? Sarah, our Promotional Specialist, can help you find the right koozie to match your brand and budget.

And, if you like what you’ve read, check out our other posts in the Fun History of Promotional Products Series!

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