She’s got it ‘in the bag’

Sun City resident revolutionizes pizza delivery

If you are like most Sun City residents, you like your pizzas delivered warm to your front door. It’s time then that you meet someone who lives in Neighborhood 36, a recent seven month resident, Ingrid Kosar.

After all, how often does one meet a neighbor whose name can be found on Wikipedia? Thirty-one years ago, this scientific-minded woman invented the first insulated pizza bag.

Sun City resident, inventor, and entrepreneur Ingrid Kosar heated up the pizza industry, and others, with her thermal bags. (Photo by Chris LaPelusa/Sun Day)

Sun City resident, inventor, and entrepreneur Ingrid Kosar heated up the pizza industry, and others, with her thermal bags. (Photo by Chris LaPelusa/Sun Day)

One year later, she was in business with her first major account, Domino’s Pizza. Ingrid, who grew up in Des Plaines, was an only daughter and a middle child with two brothers. Ms. Kosar, now 65 years old, tells us how the inspiration for her multi-million dollar idea began. 
Both parents had begun their own small businesses, which sparked an entrepreneurial spirit in the young Ingrid. Ingrid tells us, “I always wanted a business since I was a kid. I wanted to help people.” She continues “[However], when I was a kid after my dad died, I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from. Preserving food [as a result] has been very important to me.”

Ingrid, a 1971 English Major/Journalism Minor graduate from Northern Illinois University, adds, “That’s how you invent things!” with a hint of sarcasm. She then relates, “I saw [one day] a cotton lunch bag in a craft show and thought, ‘I can invent this for a pizza to make it hot!’”

Previous to this date, pizza boxes were wrapped in blankets or paired with Sterno, a dangerous liquid that could cause fires.

Ms. Kosar continues, “Thinsulate was just new for house windows, and I thought it might be good for the use with food.”

After procuring technical instruments to be used for testing the pizza’s temperature, she began the bag’s developmental phase. She continued to test the pizzas with different ingredients on them and with different materials on the bags. Domino’s said “When you have a bag over 140 degrees, let’s talk.”

(Photo by Chris LaPelusa/Sun Day)

(Photo by Chris LaPelusa/Sun Day)

The rest is history!

Kosar has seen her thermal bags go almost everywhere since inventing them in 1983.

Kosar’s Timeline

1983: Invents first Insulated Pizza Bag. Patents Awarded to Ingrid Kosar in the Next Year.

1984: First Major Contract with Domino’s Pizza

1985: Awarded Contracts for Both Army and Air Force

1986: Thermal Bags by Ingrid, Inc. Nominated U.S. Exporter of the Year

1987: White House Head Chef Purchases TBBI Bags

1988: Develops Insulated Bag for Meals on Wheels

1989: Develops Insulated Bags for Catering and Food Services

1991: Expands In-House Custom Capabilities

1993: NASA Mission Uses Thermal Bags by Ingrid, Inc. in Outer Space Using Cells for Life to Grow Crystals

1997: Introduces Carry Out Club Bag for Customer Pizza Pick-up Using Light-Weight Insulated Pizza Bag Imprinted With Advertising and Company Coupon

1998: Thermal Bags by Ingrid, Inc. Develops Domino’s new “Heat Wave” Bag

2000: Guinness Book of World Records Lists Thermal Bags by Ingrid, Inc. as World’s largest Pizza Bag

2001: The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council Certifies Thermal Bags by Ingrid, Inc. as a Woman-Owned Small Business.

2005: Develops New Division and Increases Line for Next Generation of Promotional Products/ a Not-For-Profit Group Designed to Help Young Entrepreneurs

2006: Featured on the History Channel Special: “America Eats Pizza” where TBBI Was Given Credit for Revolutionizing the Pizza Delivery Industry

2013: Celebrates Thermal Bag’s 30th Year Anniversary

2014: Develops Full Line of Insulated and Non-Insulated Bun Rack Covers.

She adds very humbly, “Our bags have been places that I will never see like outer space aboard a shuttle mission, or inside the White House kitchen during President George H.W. Bush’s term.

“Yes, our bags have been used by (Chef) Wolfgang Puck and Disney. We have even had the pleasure of being able to serve fresh, hot meals to the GI’s in our armed forces, too.”

Present Thermal Bags by Ingrid (TBBI) large accounts include Panera Bread Company and Tyson Foods. Products have also been designed for most pizza companies and McDonald’s, Burger King, Marriott, Hilton, Cells for Life, and countless more.

In the beginning, Ingrid pushed towards hot food insulation covers because there was nothing out there at the time. She tells us that “Five degrees of heat is lost every hour when a container is full of warm food, as opposed to only one-half of a degree of cold lost for cool items in an hour’s time period.” TBBI now involves itself with about 4/5 Hot thermal to 1/5 Cold thermal production. More leak-proof materials are used to add ice for cold thermal help; materials to keep items warm and keep moisture away are used for hot thermal production. Popeye’s gave Ingrid the idea (although that company failed to see it through) to release steam from her thermal containers to prevent the pizza dough from getting soggy. Many textile companies use the same method now.

Kosar’s company has always done their own research. “We have spoken through the years to people with expertise when needed,” Ingrid adds. In 1998, TBBI beat out numerous competitors in a nine month period of research to gain the 90,000 bag order from Domino’s in the pizza company’s new “Heat Wave” Bag marketing project.

Ingrid’s Meals on Wheels features the innovative method of outside labeling of Hot and Cold items that are contained inside the packaging to make distribution easier. Most of the insulation used in the bags is made in Wisconsin. Most of the company’s materials are bought in the U.S. The machine wash and dry produced items use nylon for greater strength and polyester for cheaper production costs, depending on the need of the account.

Although no Styrofoam appears in any of her products, Ingrid is quick to say, “We do make our bags for competitors such as Styrofoam companies.” Kosar has been awarded a total of three patents, two design, and one utility, all on delivery bags.

Ingrid finds it rather ironic that her graduation gift from high school was a sewing machine, instead of a more desired automobile gift.

There are 85,000 pizza restaurants in the United States of which 1/2 to 3/4 deliver. When TBBI sells to Papa John’s 4500 stores, P.J.’s headquarters will ship Ingrid’s item to each of their franchises. Kosar mentions, “We do ship all over the world, including Germany, France, and Canada. One of our largest past accounts was located in England. In fact, TBBI delivered to Kuwait for Burger King where we printed the embroidery in front in English and in back in Arabic.”

Mary DeNicolo, a long-time employee of TBBI puts it this way: “She’s such a strong and enthusiastic individual. Ingrid just has so many great ideas and is so generous with her business and her employees.”

Ingrid herself summarizes, “…I am proud my product has delivered fresh, hot meals to so many people over the years.”

For more info, check out Thermal Bags by Ingrid online at www.thermalbags.com.

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