An ICEE® is a frosty cold drink (similar to a 7-Eleven Slurpee®) made from flavored-syrup, water, and CO2. The ICEE was invented by Omar Knedlik in the late 1950s—it was kind of a "necessity is the mother of invention" story. Knedlik owned a Dairy Queen, but lacked the soda fountain he knew would draw extra customers. Not wanting to miss out, he'd buy bottles of soda-pop from the store and put them in his freezer. It turned out that his customers loved the resulting soda-pop slush. Five years later he produced the first "ICEE" machine. He would make some three-hundred machines by the mid-1960s. ICEE as a company was established in 1967 and as of 2002 they were celebrating "35 years of FUN".

In the Portland-area the only place I knew of where you could could get ICEEs was at a Fred Meyers store (except the Morrison street branch, did that location carry anything?!). With their red-white-and-blue coloring and somewhat boring shape, the two-spigoted machines looked a bit like some sort of 1950's voting machine. The left spigot usually carried the standard cherry flavor while the right spigot would host the "guest star" flavor (usually Coke, Blue Raspberry, or White Cherry).

ICEEs seemed a bit less runny than a Slurpee (a higher mix of CO2, I'm guessing). While you actually ended up getting less "drink", the ICEE could be piled higher over the rim of the cup making it look bigger.

The cups were the standard '70s wax covered paper, (the same kind of cup you might get a Pepsi in at the county fair), but brightly colored with eight thick vertical red and blue stripes (four red, four blue). The words "ICEE" was printed along the top in white, the four capital letters having small drifts of snow on their horizontal areas. Below that was the mascot, a personified polar bear wearing a red varsity sweater with a big serif capital "I"—a bit like that Illinois letter sweater Henry Blake would wear on M*A*S*H—as seems the norm with cartoon mascots the bear was lacking pants. He was in stance that was perhaps best described as "mid-jig". In his left paw (four-fingered hand) he (?) was holding an ICEE and sipping it through a straw—"our product's so good, even our mascot is drinking it!". Next to the bear appeared ICEEs slogan "coldest drink in town".

In addition to a timeless kitch, the cups also had one or two "points" that you could cut out and save-and-redeem for "ICEE Stuff" (this was the era of S&H Greenstamps and sending in cereal box tops after all). Theoretically, if you saved enough of these little sticky rhombus chits you could send them in for an ICEE t-shirt, a stuffed ICEE bear or something. Nowadays, you can get an ICEE beach towel (500 points), t-shirt (275), baseball cap (200), keychain flashlight (75), or a thirty-two-ounce "collectors bottle" (one of those plastic drink bottles with the attached straw - 50 points). Ahh, is there any child who's heart doesn't quicken at the thought of a tchotchke? Can't spare the teeth to drink that many ICEEs? You can also just straight out buy the stuff from ICEE.

According to ICEE, they sell approximately 63,115,200* ICEEs a year—that, to me,seems astounding (if not downright unbelivable). I'm guessing this must include all of the other products ICEE makes (Smoothee by ICEE, Cappuccino, Java Freeze (frozen coffees), and ICEE Squeeze Tubes). But still... holy crow!

There are currently twenty-three ICEE flavors:
(I've bolded the flavors I think are the most seen)

***

* From the ICEE website [www.icee.com]: "How much ICEE? do people consume yearly? ... Enough to cover the island of Kauai and Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands ... If you drink 1 ICEE® per minute it would take 120 years to equal the yearly consumption of ICEE®."
[60 minutes an hour × 24 hours a day × 365.25 days a year × 120 years = 63,115,200]

Notes:
Apparently, ICEEs are now available in such places as K-Mart, Price Costco, Target, and WAL*MART.
A twenty-ounce cherry ICEE has approximately 220 calories, 55g of carbohydrates, 25mg of sodium, and no fat, protein, caffeine or—remarkably for a drink aimed at kids—vitamin C. But it has a full day supply of red!

I purchased an ICEE today (24/8/2002) at an educational supply store in Bangkok. It came in a plastic cup (with the snowed capped ICEE written in both English and Thai), but had no "points" to cut and save. Damn.

The ICEE® Company is now a subsidiary of J & J Snack Foods (NASDAQ-JJSF) which also handles such products/subsidiaries as : Arctic Blast, Baker's Best, Bavarian Pretzel Bakery, Camden Creek Bakery (cookies), Chill, Frostar frozen novelties, The Funnel Cake Factory, Hi-C Frozen Fruit Bars, Luigi's Real Italian Ice, Mama Tish's Premium Italian Ice, Minute Maid Juice Bars,Minute Maid Soft Frozen Lemonade, mister twister, Mrs.GoodCookie (ready-to-bake cookies), Pretzel Cookie, Pretzel Fillers, Pretzel Gourmet, Pride o' the Farm, Shape Ups, Super Pretzel, Texas Twist, and Tio Pepe's Churros, and Uptown.

Products similar to the ICEE include the Burger King Frozen Coke (based on the ICEE technology), the Frozen, the Dairy Queen Mr. Misty, the 7-Eleven Slurpee, and the Slush Puppie.

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