Monday, October 22, 2012

Therma-Jacs: the midcentury koozie

Growing up in the chilliest corner of Northern New Jersey, I never once encountered a koozie or coozie or cosy, the snug little sleeve designed to keep one's beverage—generally, one's beer—nice and frosty. I'm not saying that they didn't exist, that there weren't all kinds of Jersey jokers floating down the Delaware with koozie-wrapped Yuenglings in hand, but I never laid eyes on one till I visited Texas for the first time back in 1989. I thought they were brilliant, and like Columbus bringing back parrots and pineapples from Hispaniola for Queen Isabella and her cronies to marvel over, Lindsay and I returned from our trips to Texas bearing all variations on the koozie theme (like the Freeze Sleeve) to wide-eyed New Yorkers. We even had custom koozies made to commemorate our wedding. Classy!

We're not big beer drinkers anymore, so most of our koozies collect dust atop the laundry-room refrigerator, and we've still got a cache of wedding koozies in the garage. But I've maintained a soft spot for the concept and was pretty thrilled to discover the Therma-Jac a few years ago at an estate sale. Manufactured in Fort Payne, Alabama, by a purveyor of terry-cloth coasters called the Hi-Jac Corp, the Therma-Jac was designed to keep your cocktail cool. The thing is, in all the time I've had my Therma-Jacs, I've never once stuck my glass in one. Cute as they are, they're a little unwieldy and if it's hot enough outside to boil my gin and tonic, I'm probably inside partaking of the AC.

That's why it was pretty easy for me to pass up the pile of Therma-Jacs in this photo, which I took a couple of weeks ago at an estate sale for a woman touted as having been San Antonio's "hostess of the year" (I'm not sure what year precisely but it had to have been 1950-something). The place had been pretty much picked clean by the time I arrived—the only things of interest were a peculiar cellulite-flattening device that resembled an abacus, and the Therma-Jacs shimmering behind the bar. (True fact: all the best estate sales have bars.) If I were in the business of reselling, which I should be, I probably would've bought them—they are a flashy bar accessory irresistible to Mad Men fetishists and other would-be Hostesses of the Year. Even if you never do end up using them, they look sweet.

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