The Sugar Babies

 TALKING TO MYSELF: 14 JUNE, 2012 Every day brings new appreciation for how much I don’t know. I mentioned on Facebook last night that we’d taken Annelise, Hudson and Owen out for icees (the plural of icee), and inadvertently spawned a lively discussion over the distinction between an ICEE and a Slurpee. Please note that I’ve written ICEE in all capital letters in the second clause of the previous sentence. I do that because I have now learned that ICEE (upper case letters) is a copyrighted trade name on the order of Coca-Cola or Xerox – and so is its twin sister, Slurpie.

Like most of mankind’s great discoveries, the ICEE was invented by accident. Back in the early 1950s when Dairy Queen got rolling, a DQ operator named Omar Knedlik in Coffeyville, Kansas, started putting his soda pop bottles in his freezer until they were frozen because he didn’t have a soda fountain. When he realized that the frozen soft drinks were a hit with his customers, he set out to invent a machine that would make the frozen carbonated drink. He experimented with old ice cream machines for five years, but in 1958 he finally perfected the ICEE Machine. The only problem is that he called it the Scoldasice Machine. Thank goodness, his friend Ruth E. Taylor talked him out of that awful name. I simply can’t imagine our three year old Hudson clamoring for a “Scoldasice! Wanna Scoldasice!”

Taylor not only came up with the catchy name ICEE, but, an artist, she designed the familiar logo with icicles hanging from letters and an accompanying polar bear. I hope Knedlik paid her well because Scoldasice would not have gotten out of the starting gate in my opinion without her marketing panache.

According to Wikepedia, that source of all knowledge, the ICEE Company now has “over 75,000 ICEE machines across the US serving 300 million ICEEs per year.” That’s a lot of sugar, Mayor Bloomberg. You can buy an ICEE inside Wal-Mart and Target stores, and – though this is news to me -- at McDonald’s, Subway and Burger King restaurants. Many convenience store chains – which is where we purchase them with our grandchildren – also have the ICEE brand machines.

But how, you ask, does an ICEE differ from a Slurpie? Ta-tah! It doesn’t. In the early 60s, 7-Elevin licensed the ICEE from ICEE Company and markets it as the Slurpie. More recently, Circle K licensed the frozen drink from ICEE and markets it as ThirstFreezer. To further confuse matters, ICEE itself also markets the Slush Puppie.

Since 1988, ICEE has been a division of J and J Snack Foods. While I can’t speak with authority, I infer from Internet reading that ICEE is distributed through regional franchisers. I mention this only because it illustrates one more ground floor franchise opportunity that Ernie and I missed out on in our lifetime. Can I just say Kentucky Fried Chicken? 

And – though you didn’t ask – YES there is an ICEE app available for your iPhone that will locate the nearest ICEE machine. http://www.icee.com/home.html  You can also follow ICEE on Facebook and, and, and --- well, all I can say is that New York’s Mayor Bloomberg has his work cut out for him. While he may be able to get his grandchildren to drink spinach smoothies with a side of green pepper slices, the rest of us are hanging on by a thread of frozen sugar.

Copyright © June 2012 Georgia Green Stamper