It’s not easy picking an article for July 4th. Whatever we choose has to be distinctly American, timely, and of interest to our readers. Seems like the Igloo Playmate Elite Stars and Stripes cooler fits the bill perfectly. It’s made right here in the USA, and it’s been around for more than 30 years, making it a classic by most standards. There’s a pretty good chance that you either already own one (or more), previously owned one, or have been to plenty of events where folks had them. Of course, that makes telling you about something you’re already familiar with a bit of a challenge, but we’re sure to cover a thing or two you weren’t aware of.
Although Igloo was officially founded in 1947, they started out working in metal. It wasn’t until 1962 that they produced their first cooler made entirely from plastic. In the 51 years since, their products have managed to become a fixture in nearly three fourths of American homes, and have an international presence as well. The important thing to remember here is that when you purchase from Igloo, you’re supporting US workers. Their wages are what helps keep local economies afloat.
Enough lecturing, on to the cooler! The best-selling Playmate series has a tall, tent-shaped lid with molded handle that makes it easy to carry, and increases capacity. The original side button lid release is still available on some models, but has been replaced by a handle-mounted latch mechanism that allows for one-handed operation, regardless of whether you’re left or right-handed. With a footprint of roughly 10 x 15 inches, the 16 quart (that’s 15 liters, for our metric friends) can accommodate up to 30 cans of your favorite beverage, and still have room for ice. Empty, it’s a very manageable 4.7 pounds. In addition to keeping the contents cold, the liner resists stains and odors. Of course, it’s also sized perfectly to hold drinks for your next party, or lunch for your family picnic.
Once only available in red and white, you’ll now find a variety of colors and themes, including different flowers, beach scenes, football, Hawaiian, Coke®, and even two choices for July 4th – fireworks, or the Elite Stars and Stripes. Yes, your cooler can now be a seasonal fashion item. For the true Playmate fan, Igloo will even create a custom cooler with your own full color graphics or logo. They have thousands of pre-made graphics available, or you can upload your own image, and even add text. Bet you didn’t know that! All puns aside, this could be the coolest gift ever.
The Igloo Playmate is a welcome addition to anyone’s outdoor gear. We found it keeps food and drink cold for a typical afternoon outing, and has more than enough capacity for our picnic needs. It fits behind the seat in our small cars, and if not loaded too heavily, can even be attached to the rear rack of my bicycle (carefully) with bungee cords. For our neighborhood parties, it doesn’t take two people to carry when loaded, which is nice. Overall, it’s hard to fault, and given their popularity, we’re not alone in our thinking. The warranty on materials and workmanship is one year, but we bet that the normal service life is probably ten times that. igloocoolers.com
We’d like to thank Igloo for providing their Playmate for our testing purposes. In the short time we’ve had it, it’s not only been used for lunches and drinks, but it’s kept insulin cool during a long day out, and even served as a discreet camera case in a pinch.