Frozen Beverage: When Did It Start?


With new products coming up every second of every day, we are often reluctant to stop and take a moment to think about the origin of things. With the turbo speed life is going by now, we barely have the time to look around and marvel at how far we have come since the days of room-sized computers and landline phones! It is not only technology-related products that have drastically evolved, our eating habits as well have greatly changed since our grandparents’ days. However, the same cannot be said for the ice-cold beverages we have been enjoying for many years now that no one really knows when or where did it all start! These drinks seem to have stood the test of time. However, have you ever wondered when did this universal drink actually start? Let us shed some light on this subject below:

History of Frozen Beverages

As you would imagine, it was a hot summer day in the 1950s when a convenient store owner in Kansas City decided to get creative and make up for his broken soda fountain by storing soda cans in the freezer to quickly cool them down. His customers loved how the slushy beverage immediately quenched their thirst and cooled them off in the scorching summer heat. Customers loved it so much that they started asking for the slush-like beverage instead of the regular fountain soda they were all used to.

Behind the Scenes of ICEE Development

Complex procedures and cutting-edge methodologies were used in the creation of the ICEE. Knedlik experimented with various techniques and components, such as flavoring, sugar, and carbonated water to make the ICEE. He then introduced these components to the “Carbonator,” a specially made device that combined the freezing and mixing of the components. The end outcome was the original ICEE.

The ICEE has experienced numerous modifications and advancements over time. In order to make the process of making the ICEE simpler and more effective, various tastes and variations of the beverage have been developed. Even with the use of current technologies and innovations, the ICEE is still produced utilizing the same fundamental procedure today.

Becoming a Stand-Alone Product

A hard-to-miss moment for any great businessperson, there was a demand for frozen beverages and that genius store owner saw the opportunity that was up for grabs. He went to work and spent some time experimenting and inventing prototype versions of, what we now know as, the frozen beverage dispenser. Fast forward to the 90s when the founder of Frozen Beverage Dispenser Jim Frank developed the modern version of the dispenser and put this trusted company on the map, serving 80% of the most famous brands offering frozen beverages like food chain giants and renowned movie theatres around the world. Today, every kid and adult from every corner of the world knows what a frozen beverage is, and how it is a staple during summertime.

Beat Goes On

Omar Knedlik passed away in 1989, but not before witnessing the development of the beverage he was the inspiration for into a well-known pleasure for people of all ages. A frozen carbonated beverage is now available in roughly 70% of all convenience stores in the United States, and each sale generates an estimated 50% profit margin.

The classic favorites are still Coca-Cola, cherry, and something blue (raspberry or blueberry). Around the world, ICEE sells more than 500 million cups of product each year. No matter the weather, over 30 million Slurpee drinks are bought in Canada. The Canadian province of Manitoba has consistently held the title of Slurpee capital of the globe for more than ten years thanks to soaring consumer purchases.

All brands of frozen carbonated beverages are comparable and distinct in several ways. It’s a cold beverage in a printed cup that is inextricably related to the convenience store concept, if you look at it. It has evolved into the beverage industry’s iconic trademark.

Different Versions of Frozen Beverages

Now that the technology is there, people started to come up with all sorts of frozen drinks. What was once exclusive for fruity and crayon-colored drinks for kids has helped create some of the most famous alcoholic cocktails for adults to have their fun too. Every region in the world has its own spin on frozen beverage flavors. Tropical countries like Puerto Rico, for example, are famous for the popular cocktail Piña Colada. Mediterranean countries claim they invented the famous Sangría that owes its name to the Spanish word for “bloodletting”, pertaining to its red-blood hue. Moving further East to Asia, they prefer to mix their favorite teas with other local fruits like mangoes and lychee for their own take on the frozen beverage. When speaking of frozen beverages we cannot miss the all-time teen-favorite Frappuccino! This genius creation has eased teens into the world of Java, creating an even wider fan base for what was already a legendary drink.

The Frozen Beverage Today

This multi-billion dollar industry is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. In fact, since today’s generations are looking for individuality and uniqueness, even when it comes to what they eat and drink, endless concoctions of new frozen beverages are being created every day across countries all over the world. Restaurants and bar owners will also vouch for the brilliance of these dispensers since it allows them to drive their profit margins by as high as 120%! No movie experience, gathering, or even a simple coffee run can be complete without some kind of a frozen beverage making an appearance. You will find them featured in many 80s and 90s movies and beyond.  And thanks to technology, hybrid frozen dispenser machines are now available on the market for home use. They are simple and user-friendly. So, the next time you are craving a Frappuccino, but reluctant to step out of the comfort of your air-conditioned room, you can just run to your kitchen and whip up one with your own personal twist.


Before becoming popular in places like theme parks, movie theaters, and shopping food courts, frozen dispensed beverages were a unique product that was developed in the convenience store sector. Whether sold under the brand names ICEE, Slurpee, Koala Ice, Koolee, or Slushee, frozen dispensed beverages continue to draw consumers in. These delights are among the most lucrative products now offered by convenience stores, with a gross margin of around 50%.

It can be very interesting to learn about the mundane things that we see around us every single day and try to understand how they all started. It gives you a sense of appreciation of how life is changing and progressing in every aspect. You probably have never looked beyond the fact that frozen beverages are cold and tasty! But hopefully, the above will give you an interesting insight into its almost accidental invention, and how it evolved into what we know today.

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