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On Slurpees and other brilliant accidents

When I was growing up, my friends who lived a few houses down from me had an Icee machine in their house because their big brother was an Icee distributor. I know. They were the luckiest girls on the planet. One day, my little sister — the youngest of the group by a couple of years — watched as they were getting Icees for themselves. Quoth cute kid sister, “I sure do like Icees, but I know it’s rude to ask.” And from that day to this, that’s how the Ridgedale Rollers who are looking to score some goodies ask without asking. (Oh my heavens, we were dorks. Were? Are.)

Mmmm, Icee. (Photo via Wiki Commons)

Slurpees — which are just differently branded Icees — are actually the result of a happy accident and some pretty cool science. Smithsonian magazine explains the history and the science behind this delicious treat.
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His soda fountain broke, leaving Knedlik without cold drinks in the Kansas heat. So he sent away for bottles of soda and plunged them into the frosty depths of his freezer to chill for his thirsty customers. When he popped the lids, the sodas instantly turned slushy.

Though it sounds like a party trick, this actually involves some flashy chemistry. There are likely a few factors at work here, but one of the most important is the formation of what is known as a supercooled liquid. This means, that the drink is actually colder than the point at which the solution transforms into ice—but not frozen yet.

I, for one, am very glad about that accident. Slurpees and Icees made West Texas summers bearable.  For more happy accidents, check out this slideshow of 20 more unintentional innovations. And to learn about a brilliant reinvention of an obsolete product, listen to Mike Rowe’s latest podcast episode.

One response to “On Slurpees and other brilliant accidents”

  1. Carrie Avatar

    Ridgedale rollers 4 ever!

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