Voters Narrow Field to Top 8 Coolest Products Made in Illinois

Makers Madness Top 8

“Makers Madness” Contest Lets Public Decide The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois

March 9, 2021 – The field of contenders vying for the title of Coolest Thing Made in Illinois has been narrowed further, with voters choosing the Top 8 products to move ahead in the second annual “Makers Madness” contest. Hosted by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, “Makers Madness” is a bracket-style tournament in which voters across the state will decide which product is The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois.

Presented by Comcast Business, the competition shines a light on Illinois’ diverse manufacturing sector, which has played a critical role in the state and nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Manufacturers are developing life-saving vaccines and treatments, producing needed personal protective equipment, keeping store shelves stocked with important goods and nutritious foods and powering our homes and businesses.

Over the past week, voters chose their favorites in eight head-to-head matchups between individual products, with almost 140,000 votes cast in this round. The original field of 311 nominees for The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois has now been whittled down to the Top 8.

Voting for this round is now open and will take place at through 11:59 p.m. on March 14. Voters may cast one vote per day in each of the four head-to-head matchups between individual products. Vote totals are reset to zero at the beginning of each round, with the final round of voting set to begin March 16. The contest will culminate with a virtual awards ceremony on March 24 when The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois will be named.

“It has been exciting to watch people from every corner of Illinois get engaged in the Makers Madness contest and cast their votes for their favorite products. From large machinery to sweet treats and cool technologies, these Top 8 products showcase the strength and diversity of Illinois’ manufacturing sector,” said Mark Denzler, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “Manufacturers led the way through the pandemic, and they are leading our economic recovery. Our men and women on factory floors deserve our gratitude and recognition and the IMA is proud to advocate for policies that support them and our communities each and every day.”

“Congratulations to the teams responsible for the Top 8 Coolest Things Made in Illinois – what an accomplishment,” said Sean McCarthy, Comcast’s Regional Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Initiatives. “Comcast Business is proud to partner with the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association on Makers Madness and celebrate the innovations and importance of Illinois’ manufacturing sector.”

The Makers Madness Top 8 matchups are as follows:

Bracket A:

Nerds Gummy Clusters Candy (Ferrara Candy Company, Bellwood) v. Self-Regulating Traffic Signal Heater (Termico Technologies, Elk Grove)


Bracket B:

Blistex Lip Ointment (Blistex Inc., Oak Brook) v. Giant Magellan Telescope (Ingersoll Machine Tools, Inc., Rockford)


Bracket C:

Jessup The Original Griptape (Jessup Manufacturing Company, McHenry) v. Custom Tooling (Deco Manufacturing Company, Decatur)


Bracket D:

4000-RL-CO2DX Flake Ice Machine (Howe Corporation, Chicago) v. Accuchiller KSE Series Packaged Outdoor Chiller (Thermal Care, Inc., Niles)

Statewide, manufacturing generates more than $304 billion in economic output, contributing 12 percent to the state’s Gross Domestic Product – the largest share of any industry in Illinois. Manufacturers employ 556,300 women and men in Illinois at an average salary of $88,691, providing $52 billion in wages and benefits.

Though manufacturing remains an economic powerhouse in Illinois, manufacturers here and across the country are facing the threat of an aging workforce. Over the next decade, it is estimated that 300,000 men and women will leave the industry as baby boomers begin to retire, presenting numerous career opportunities. Nationally, there are 460,000 open manufacturing jobs today.

In 2020, Caterpillar’s 797F Large Mining Truck was crowned “The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois” after nearly 300,000 votes.

Timeline of events:

January 27 – February 14: Nominations accepted at

February 17 – February 28: Voting on nominations to determine Top 16

March 2 – March 7: First round of voting to determine Top 8

March 9 – March 14: Second round of voting to determine Top 4

March 16 – March 21: Final round of voting

March 24: Winner of The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois Announced 

About the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA)

The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association is the only statewide association dedicated exclusively to advocating, promoting and strengthening the manufacturing sector in Illinois. The IMA is the oldest and largest state manufacturing trade association in the United States, representing nearly 4,000 companies and facilities. For more information, visit


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