By Peter Schwartz
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One day, Joe Gannascoli was walking around his home and took a gander at his water cooler.  That’s when the entrepreneur and sports fan inside of him came together for a terrific idea.

“Very simply, I looked at my water bottle in my house,” the former “The Sopranos” star said. “And I said, not that it’s ugly, but it would be a great spot to put a logo of the Giants, Yankees or the Rangers, depending on the season and what’s going on.”

So Gannascoli went to the Internet to see if anybody had beaten him to the idea.  He went on to Google NFL products. A million things came up, but there was nothing about covers for water jugs or bottles

“I knew I was onto something,” said Gannascoli.

He was right.

He had a friend make a sample bottle cover and he sent it to Giants Vice President of Communications Pat Hanlon. Hanlon directed him to NFL’s licensing department.

And that’s how Bottle Skinz was born.

(Credit: Joe Gannascoli)

(Credit: Joe Gannascoli)

(Credit: Joe Gannascoli)

(Credit: Joe Gannascoli)

“I’ve been working on this for two years,” said Gannascoli.  “I’m up at five in the morning, I go to the gym and play racquetball. But mostly I’m always thinking about it.”

Gannascoli has teamed up with Fabrique Innovations on a unique product for the sports fan.  No longer does the water cooler in your office or home have to be so bland.  Now you can dress it up with your favorite team.  Bottle Skinz has licenses for the NFL as well as MLB, NHL and college teams.

In addition to the large bottle covers, Bottle Skinz also makes a cover for smaller bottles.

Being that the Giants are so near and dear to Gannascoli’s heart, he brought some Big Blue Bottle Skinz to training camp over the summer.

“One of the first ones ever made went right to the Giants’ training facility,” said Gannascoli. “They put it right on the water bottle in their weight room, which for me, as a Giants fan …you can’t beat that.”

(Credit: Joe Gannascoli)

(Credit: Joe Gannascoli)

While not everyone has a water cooler in their home or offense, Bottle Skinz has some versatility. If you can get your hands on just the water jug, you can use it at home as a coin bank with your favorite team’s logo on it.

While Gannascoli is busy with Bottle Skinz, he can’t escape fans of “The Sopranos” coming up to talk to him about the old days.  Even at recent appearances to promote his new product, the subject of the hit television show continued to be a topic of conversation.

“They always want to take a picture,” Gannascoli said of the fans.  “They’re still watching the show.  They miss it.  They’re happy it came out on Blu-ray.  Is there going to be a movie? I just read something.  What happened at the end?”

So what did happen at the end?

The series ended with Tony Soprano at a diner with his family while some dangerous-looking people were lurking about.

“I always felt that he went on living,” said Gannascoli. “It would have been disappointing if he got arrested and went to jail, or if he was killed.  That would have been pretty rough.  It’s not really the mob way to kill someone in front of their family.  I always thought that he lived and the story was over, and he just went on with his life.”

And now Gannascoli enters a new part of his life with his new product, and his timing couldn’t be any better.

As we approach Christmas and Hanukkah, Bottle Skinz is sure to be a hit with sports fans of all ages.

(Credit: Joe Gannascoli)

(Credit: Joe Gannascoli)

“At $10 each they make great stocking stuffers,” said Gannascoli, who has the Bottle Skinz in a number of Home Depot locations (including five stores in North Jersey near MetLife Stadium).

Many Home Depot stores in South Jersey have already sold the product out.

“They’ve been selling really well,” said Gannascoli.

Bottle Skinz are also available online here.

When you go up to a typical water cooler to get a drink, there isn’t much to talk about.  You push a button and the water comes out.  But now, with BottleSkinz, the water cooler becomes a talking point thanks to the sports logo on the cover.

Now that makes for some good talk around the water cooler!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @pschwartzcbsfan.  You can also follow Joe Gannascoli @JoeGannascoli and get more info on BottleSkinz here

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