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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 varety in Detroit.
- 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.
- Following the “natural” sweetener trend, the company is also developing Slurpees that use cane sugar and stevia, and that have bases of fruit juice.
by Laura Northrup via Consumerist