The Story of the Slurpee

It might surprise you to hear that the Slurpee was an accident. Yet the beloved concoction, as a matter of fact, got its start when a Dairy Queen soda machine kept on malfunctioning. Its operator, Omar Knedlik of Kansas City, placed bottles of soda in his freezer as a failsafe. The bottles came out a little too icy and slushy for soda, but they were a hit. Soon, Knedlik had made his own machine to turn out these sodas, creating a new product altogether.

The original name, though, wasn’t Slurpee. It was ICEE, a brand that continues to this day. When the 7-Eleven corporation licensed the product in 1965, they renamed it to Slurpee, after the distinctive sound made while sucking the slush up a straw.

They took off nationwide soon thereafter, launching a plethora of flavors and even a little jingle called “Dance the Slurp.” Merchandising tie-ins certainly helped, and continue to this day. Promo cups and flavors have come to into their own in the past decade, though. Starting with Men in Black II and continuing for brands such as Iron Man, the novelty drinks have taken on new forms. The peak, though, would have to be in 2007, when 7-Eleven redesigned some stores as Kwik-E-Marts renamed the products “Squishees” all in advertising The Simpson’s Movie.

Here’s some other fun facts for us on the Slurpee:

  • The Slurpee Capitol of the USA is Kennewick, Washington, which has the most popular Slurpee-selling store in America.
  • Every July 11 (7/11), the stores celebrate “7-Eleven Day” by giving away an estimated 5,000,000 Slurpees nationwide.
  • Most, but not all, Slurpees are kosher, and some machines have even been certified kosher.
  • Mixing flavors is popular: up to 58% of Slurpee drinkers will mix flavors together.

And I’ll let the writers at Mental Floss cover perhaps the strangest of Slurpee phenomenon: The 7-Election Slurpee tour:

Since the 2000 presidential election, the company has run a promotion called “7-Election,” where customers vote by purchasing special red or blue coffee cups printed with each candidate’s name. The cups are scanned at check-out and automatically entered in this unscientific, but surprisingly accurate poll — in 2000 and 2004, the number of coffee cup votes and the number of actual popular votes for both candidates was only off by 1 or 2 percentage points. While 2008′s 7-Elections results were still correct, they gave the election to Obama by a landslide — 60 percent to 40 percent — when the margin was really only about 7 percent. In 2012, Obama won the 7-Election by a similar margin.

Altogether, the Slurpee is pretty cool if you ask me.


Mental Floss via The Week
Image via CNN and Getty

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