As part of a series written by MODERN MIDWEST
SMOKEY WOULD LOVE THE STUMP COOLER
What can you do with the Stump Cooler from Wisconsin Products? Take it on an adventure. Use it as wheels for your mini-Flintstones car. Hide your Easter eggs in it.
Or carry it to the top of a river bluff with the handy web strap. Perch yourself on its sturdy lid, pop open a cold one and ponder the meaning of life. Relax – you’ve got plenty of time to ponder. It holds 12 cans and ice.
Hunters and hipsters agree: Whether you’re tracking pheasants in South Dakota or scouring the farmers market for arugula, the Stump Cooler fits in everywhere (we've got five tips on where to go in the Midwest with your cooler – including a place to track the wily kangaroo rat – below).
“Anything you can do to make simple things blend in is good,” said Chris Zinkel, founder of Wisconsin Products. “It’s a nice alternative to the Styrofoam stuff that’s out there that just doesn’t fit in.”
Zinkel is pretty sure the Stump Cooler looks like oak – but he’s not positive. There were no focus groups or feasibility studies when the idea hit.
“We just grabbed something that was straight and the right size, and modeled it after that,” he said.
Though the Stump Cooler is made of space-age plastic, it’s manufactured the old-fashioned way: one at a time, by hand, by members of the extended Zinkel family in Reedsville, Wis. The Stump Cooler is available at William Rogue & Co, as well as a variety of other outlets.
And Zinkel isn’t stumped for new ideas. He’s looking at bringing out a dozen new products over the next couple of years. All will be focused on food and beverage with an outdoors theme, but they may not all be woodsy: “Think of something that would blend in with a dock – that’s all I’ll say.”
- Eagle watching in Red Wing, Minn.
- Tracking the wily kangaroo rat in the Nebraska Sandhills
- Viewing ice sculptures at the Laporte Winterfest in Indiana
- Tailgating at the Mitchell Corn Palace in South Dakota for the Kenny Rogers Christmas & Hits Tour
- Winter camping at Big Bay State Park on Wisconsin’s Madeline Island