Can the Yeti Unite America?

It’s now peak Yeti time, because football tailgating season is in high gear. But every day is peak Yeti time, because as Matt Reintjes, the company’s chief executive, said, the coolers are “pursuit agnostic.” Anywhere people are gathered together and stuff needs to stay cold, he argues (a golf outing with your buddies, a bachelorette weekend, a beer bash in the woods, the parking lot outside a Springsteen concert), is an occasion to bring your Yeti.


The Yeti Tank 85 at a tailgating event in Tuscaloosa, Ala., this month. The Yeti may have its biggest fan base in the South.

Claire Middlebrooks/Yeti

“We talk about being ‘built for the wild,’ but we don’t want to define what the wild means,” Mr. Reintjes said.

It’s this wide-ranging usefulness that has made Yeti coolers perhaps the only product ever endorsed in the pages of both Cosmopolitan and Petersen’s Bowhunting, which told its readers that a Yeti is key when you have “a pack overflowing with fresh elk meat.”

The fact that some Yetis are nearly the cost of a designer suit or Chanel flats has improbably elevated the humble cooler to a luxury status accessory. Onward Reserve, a preppy men’s store, sells Yeti coolers alongside Smathers & Branson needlepoint belts and Barbour jackets in its Washington, D.C., location. And stylish young women have taken to monogramming and customizing with stickers their Yeti Rambler Lowball tumblers, which cost around $20 for the 10-ounce cup and come in a variety of colors including seafoam.

Carter Coyle, a 29-year-old investigative reporter for WCSC in Charleston, S.C., thought Yeti coolers were “completely ridiculous” when she first heard about them “because they’re so expensive,” she said. But after her fiancé got her a tumbler for…

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