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The Skotch Kooler Story

1919: Humble Beginnings

Our story begins with a small sheet metal company in Hamilton, Ohio. After earning a reputation for metal mailboxes and food graters, the company produced a round metal bucket designed to “keep groceries cold on the way to the lake and fish cold on the way back.” The simple, utilitarian design worked as advertised, but it didn’t knock anybody’s socks off. (Though, to be fair: it was the Prohibition Era. Any amount of fun or whimsy was pretty much a capital offense.)

1938: Change of Plans

The small sheet metal company grew quickly, and they began branching into more creative applications for their products. But just as our Hamilton heroes prepared to break onto the national stage, there was a bit of a commotion in Germany that redirected the metalworking industry’s priorities. For the next decade, America’s Rosies got riveting. Graters became grenade pins, mailboxes became MRE tins, and boring old fishing buckets had to take a back seat.

1952: “The Best-Looking Bucket”

With our GIs home and our lawns lined with white picket fences as far as the eye could see, the American post-war boom was officially on. Hamilton Sheet Metal started making mailboxes and graters again, and they turned their attention back to their little bucket. Company execs brought on artist Petra Cabot to help them spice up their boring accessory (maybe make it a new color? or, put a little doodle on the side?). But Cabot had bigger plans.

Petra Cabot was determined to use her opportunity to make “the best-looking bucket anybody ever saw.” After weeks of artistic experimentation (and probably a few cardiac events for the Hamilton suits), she settled on a red, black and yellow Scottish tartan design with leather accents. She knew that her masterpiece was more than just a bucket. This was a luxury cooler, with a capital K. And thus, Skotch Kooler was officially born.

1950s–1970s: Mad for Plaid

And just like that, the iconic tartan exploded onto the fashion scene. Plaid was everywhere, and so was the Kooler. Just four years after the product re-launch, comedy legend Bob Hope starred in a legendary magazine ad that declared Skotch Kooler to be “Easy goin’, easy coolin’, easy drinkin.’” Anybody who was anybody had a Skotch (including Don & Betty Draper on Mad Men), and you couldn’t hit a beach or campground without one catching your eye. The plaid fad got so big that Hamilton Metal Products even rebranded themselves as the Hamilton-Skotch Corporation.

1979: Party’s Over

All good things, however, must come to an end. And unfortunately, the Skotch heyday ended with more of a whimper than a bang. The fad had passed, the products stopped selling, and the Skotch trademarks were allowed to lapse. Skotch faded from memory for all but the few vintage collectors who remembered the little plaid bucket that took a country by storm.

2017: Back in Business

Fast forward almost four decades. A few guys come across a historical relic clad with plaid, and they conclude that it was best-looking bucket anyone ever saw. A bucket, they thought, that was ready for a huge comeback. So they file a few trademarks, fire up the old bucket-maker, and start recreating a legend—ready to define a new generation with the Koolest accessory they’ve ever owned.

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