7 Things We Learned About The History Of The Slurpee

Image courtesy of Keegan Berry

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Slurpee, which grew along with 7-Eleven to become the preeminent frozen sugary beverage in this country, and perhaps in the world. Like any product that old, the Slurpee has a fascinating history.

Here are a few highlights from Eater’s recent brief history of the drink:

1. You might think of the ICEE as a competitor or knockoff of the Slurpee, but it’s actually a semi-estranged parent: the ICEE was invented in the late ’50s, and 7-Eleven licensed the beverage-freezing technology behind the machine in 1965.

2. The inventor of the ICEE machine used parts of a car air conditioner to create the machine, and the legend says that he drew inspiration from a bottle of soda left in the freezer overnight that became delicious.

3. Frozen beverages have the familiar texture they do because of a few important ingredients: heavily sugared water doesn’t freeze at the same temperature as plain water, and a small amount of carbonation gives the semi-frozen beverage a smoother texture.

4. Slurpees arrive in stores in 5-gallon bags which are attached to the machine, so employees don’t have to do any mixing. Their flavor comes from super-concentrated syrups, since it’s harder to form a delicious flavor around ice crystals than to simply dilute it in liquid.

5. There are dozens of Slurpee flavors, including a few that are only available in certain regions. My new life goal is to try the Vernors Ginger Ale variety in Detroit.

6. As consuming huge quantities of sugar falls out of favor for people of all ages, the company began marketing a “light” Slurpee in 2012, under the name Slurpee Lite. It uses saccharin as a sweetener.

7. Following the “natural” sweetener trend, the company is also developing Slurpees that use cane sugar and stevia, and that have bases of fruit juice.

A Brief History of the Slurpee, a Frozen American Icon [Eater]

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