Tailgating: Is This the Coolest Cooler Ever?


It’s Alive! Frankencooler Is Red Hot

By J. Frank Parnell

Futbol is over, which means it’s time to get serious about football. When I say football, I mean tailgating, and there’s a guy in Portland, Ore., who’s been thinking about it a long time.

Ryan Grepper says he’s invented lots of stuff but you’re going to hear about his current project on Kickstarter, if you haven’t already. It’s an ice chest called the Coolest – and maybe it is.

Kickstarter’s one of those websites that people use to raise money for projects they can’t otherwise fund. Like a band that wants to cut a CD but doesn’t have the cash. People (backers) can buy in for maybe $10 and get a CD when it’s done. Each project has a goal – the amount of money needed to get the project off the ground.

I don’t remember how I found out about Grepper’s first attempt to raise money. His goal was $50,000. He fell short but not by much. He fared a little better this time.

He started his latest Kickstarter campaign July 8, again with a $50,000 goal. The Coolest Cooler hit $4 million July 14. That’s crazy. Even crazier? His Kickstarter campaign runs through Aug. 29.

By now you’re wondering why anyone would back a drive to create another ice chest. Igloo, Coleman, Yeti, Rubbermaid – don’t we have that covered? Well, yes and no.

Coolest CoolerGrepper’s vision began with a 60-quart ice chest. It can be divided into two sections, which is cool; one side for ice, cans and bottles, the other for stuff we want to keep cold and dry. The divider can be used as a cutting board. Again, nice idea.

The lid has LED lights inside and storage for plates and a knife. Very handy. The Coolest has big, beefy wheels and bungee cords that secure stuff like chairs and tents while we’re rolling to the beach or lake. It also has a built-in bottle opener

Those are great, simple ideas. But Grepper goes way beyond simple. The Coolest has an 18-volt rechargeable battery with a USB port to power phones and what have you. The battery also powers a blender that attaches to the top of the lid. Yes, a blender.

Grepper didn’t forget tunes. The Coolest includes a holder for a removable, waterproof Bluetooth speaker.

I think I’d call it Frankencooler instead of the Coolest, but yours truly likes the idea enough that he got in on the ground floor with a $165 pledge (which I can withdraw before Aug. 29). It was an early-bird deal limited to 50 people and it didn’t last long. The deal is, I get a Coolest when they’re ready, probably in January or February. Grepper figures the retail price will be about $300. That puts it in the ridiculous Yeti price range, but Yetis are just insulated boxes; the Coolest does so much more.

There are other levels of pledgeness or pledgeocity or pledeability. A few folks have pledged more than $2,000 and more than 70 have gone for the $1,750 pledge, which includes 10 units of the Coolest.

Grepper’s not finished tinkering with his idea, and I wonder what he’ll come up with next. In his first three updates, he’s allowed backers to choose their favorites among six colors. He’s also mentioned the addition of a solar panel if the cost can be worked out, which shouldn’t be a problem at the rate he’s raising money.

We wish we could put the Coolest through its paces during the upcoming football season but we’ll have to wait. As soon as it arrives, we’ll let you know if tailgating will change forever.


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