Can the Yeti Unite America?

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In a country where we can’t seem to agree on anything, one opinion has lately reached a broad consensus across diverse groups of people: Yeti is pretty awesome.

Miranda Lambert loves her Yeti. Jason Momoa, the beefy actor from “Game of Thrones,” considers his Yeti essential technology. The hit country song “Buy Me a Boat” by Chris Janson is, in part, an ode to Yeti, or rather, an ode to money because, as Mr. Janson sings, “It could buy me a Yeti 110 iced down with some Silver Bullets.”

Yeti is wildly popular in liberal Portland, Ore., and in the conservative South, beloved by grizzled dads who hunt and fish and their beachgoing daughters. If you are not yet initiated into the cult, it may surprise you to learn that a Yeti is a plastic cooler.

Think of those hard coolers you buy at Walmart for $30 and use for family picnics and road trips and toss in the garage in between. Yeti coolers are similar, but better-constructed and way more expensive. They are made using a technology called rotomolding (short for rotational molding and involving resin and an oven), and, as home tests have proved, keep cold for days. They cost $380 for the medium-size Tundra 50, topping out at $1,300 for the Tundra 350.

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.

“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 Christmas, she became a big fan of the brand. “They’re awesome,” she said, explaining how when she was out covering Hurricane Irma for the TV station the tumbler “kept my iced coffee cool all day” — a steadying reminder of human progress in the face of nature’s chaos.

Ms. Coyle and her fiancé haven’t yet splurged on a cooler. But they did include the blue Tundra 45 in their wedding registry and hope to progress to the next rank in the Yeti tribe. “You see everyone with their Yeti cups or coolers or both,” Ms. Coyle said. “It’s become part of beach culture here. Just like, ‘Hey, bring your bathing suit,’ bring your Yeti.”

The company was founded by Roy and Ryan Seiders, brothers from Texas, who didn’t set out to make the Rolex of beer chillers. In 2005, they were avid fishermen and middling businessmen in the outdoors space (Ryan manufactured and sold high-end fishing rods; Roy customized aluminum boats for fishing the Gulf Coast).

Roy was putting coolers on the boats he built, but found the ones on the market wouldn’t hold up to the abuse that fishermen put them through. When Ryan discovered a more durable cooler made in Thailand, Roy switched his focus to the cooler business and became a distributor for this model. But he decided he could do even better, and soon Ryan joined him in the business venture.

The brothers used the same rotomolding process that forms the rigid plastic of kayaks, and they didn’t focus on keeping the price low, only making the sturdiest cooler possible. The $300 Yeti was born.

For several years, the coolers were one of the best-kept secrets of hunters and anglers, who bought them at independent hardware stores and outdoors retailers like Cabelas.

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But in 2014, Yeti introduced its lower-priced drinkware, along with a range of colors beyond matte white. Then came a stylish soft cooler that could be slung over the shoulder, the original Hopper, priced at $300 at the time. Soon, the brand found favor with a wider range of outdoors enthusiasts and consumers interested in premium goods. Now even city slickers with no obvious need for immediate refrigeration are getting into Yeti, just as they embraced Timberland boots and Canada Goose jackets.

At Hatchet Outdoor Supply Co., in Brooklyn Heights, Yeti hard coolers in a range of colors and sizes fill the display window. The store started carrying the coolers in spring 2017, said Matthew Young, a sales associate. “I wasn’t sure how they’d sell here,” he said. “But they’re one of the biggest sellers. We’re on our third or fourth shipment. People buy them for camping. Some people want to use them as a backup in case the power goes out.”

People have found all sorts of uses for their Yetis. Mr. Reintjes, the C.E.O., recently heard about a guy walking through the Detroit airport with a Yeti Hopper; he was an American expat businessmen, taking a cooler loaded with Chick-fil-A back to his family in Hong Kong. Photographers use the coolers to store equipment.

In a truly strange social media trend that the company has distanced itself from, Yeti fans, mostly college-age women, post photos of themselves to Instagram wearing bikinis and sitting on coolers using the hashtag #yetibutts.

The brand seems to have its biggest fan base in the Gulf States and the South, where the coolers are so popular that in Mobile, Ala., a man broke into an Ace Hardware store in July and made off with $5,000 worth of Yeti merchandise. The local news media called him the “cooler crook.”

Meredith Tannehill, who runs Mish Mash Interiors, a gift shop in Augusta, Ga., has owned a Yeti Roadie 20 cooler for three years, along with several tumblers. She said in the humid South, Yeti is less a trendy fashion accessory than a necessity.

“Down here it’s hot, what, 80 percent of the year?” Ms. Tannehill said. “They’re expensive, but they’re worth it.”

Before Yeti came along with its coolers and tumblers, she doesn’t know how she dealt with melting ice and drinks gone tepid. As far as she’s concerned, the Yeti is a divine invention.

“It was kind of like all of a sudden there was Yeti,” Ms. Tannehill said. “God dropped the Yeti down: ‘Here you go, South, it’s hot, I see you’re struggling.’”

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