The foam ice chest is invented. By providing an alternative to the metal ice box, the new lighter material makes it easier to transport chilled soda and beer, and keep those 12-ounce curls moving.
Dow Chemical patented a foam substance known as Styrofoam in 1944. Trying to develop a wartime alternative to rubber, Dow research engineer Otis McIntire
combined isobutylene and styrene — bringing to life a product used to produce or insulate everything from ice chests and basement walls to marine-buoyancy devices.
The styrofoam picnic cooler
was a postwar brainchild. The first so-called "portable ice chest" received a U.S. patent in 1953. Coleman introduced its plastic-cased cooler
in 1957, the same year Kellogg's
produced what the cereal-maker called a "double milk-bottle cooler" to assist those with limited home refrigeration. Keeping milk fresh was the roadway to selling more cereal.
Milk, sure. Soda, sure. But really, it's the suds
. Imagine picnics, fishing trips and bullfighting without coolers. They just wouldn't be cool.
So next time you're carrying one of those lightweight coolers to the beach, to a campsite, to a tailgate party or just to stash underneath your desk at work, lift a cold one to the one who made it cold: Otis McIntire. He's good enough for the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and he's good enough to toast.
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