Why Does Speedway Have Slurpees? [Answered!]

If you’ve been to a Speedway store in the past, you may have noticed something peculiar about their drinks: they have slushies. Yes, even their regular-size soft drinks are served in the traditional icy beverage shape, usually garnished with a cherry. But it wasn’t always like this. When the chain began, they originally offered only beer and wine, both of which were served in a frozen state. But as times changed and the company diversified, so did their soft drink options. Today, you might find yourself wondering – why does Speedway offer slushies?

The Rise Of The Slushie

It started in the early 1900s when an Atlanta-based entrepreneur named Frank Wills invented a way to thaw out frozen drinks. As a way of life, he enjoyed chilling out at home with friends and family by blasting recordings of banjo music and having lively conversations. One day, while searching for an alternative way to enjoy his winter nights, he came across a device that helped his garden ice cream remain frozen for longer. Inspired, he began experimenting with different ways of serving beverages, and the rest, as they say, is history. (This history does not include the invention of the slushie. That distinction goes to another Georgia resident, Dave Sanders, who sold his creation to Wills’ company in the early 1900s for an unknown amount of money.)

Soon after, other entrepreneurs began duplicating Wills’ invention and using it to their advantage. One, an Ohio-based company named Blatz Brewing Company, decided to put a new spin on the traditional soft drink. To do so, they used an innovative machine that blended ice and soda together in a gulpable state. Soon after, in 1924, they released their version of the slushie under the name “Blizzard.” However, the drink quickly gained popularity and in less than a year, Blatz was selling eight cases or more each week.

Throughout the following decade, Blatz continued to expand their reach as more and more restaurants and stores started offering their own variations of the slushie. In fact, in the 1930s, the brewery released a commercial touting their invention. The ad shows a woman struggling to fit all of her suitcases and bags through the airport’s X-ray scanner. As she is walking through the airport’s baggage claim area, she sees a sign for “Blizzard” and asks a worker, “Is that what I think it is?” The man replies, “Yes, Ma’am, that’s a Blizzard.” The woman replies, “I’ll have one,” and pours herself a drink. The sign then changes to read, “Is that your beverage, Ma’am?” The woman smiles and nods. The man then says, “Yes, Ma’am, that will be four bucks.” The woman pulls out her wallet, pays and then takes a swig of her beverage, which she enjoys while strolling down the airport’s main street, sipping and smacking her lips in pleasure. The sign then changes back to its original state, where it still reads, “Blizzard.”

After World War II, the slushie’s popularity declined as more people turned to ready-made or bottled beverages. However, the frozen drink didn’t disappear completely. In fact, places like Hooters and Red Lobster became famous for serving them as a way of attracting customers. Also in the 1960s, Minute Maid launched a line of fruit-flavored drinks that were meant to taste like icy fruit juices. But perhaps the most revolutionary development that helped spark the slushie’s comeback was the invention of the plastic straw. In the 1970s, consumers started using the straw to suck up their drinks quickly and easily. Before long, straws were available in almost every bar, restaurant and cafe in the country.

Why Do You Need A Plastic Straw For A Drink?

When you’re drinking a cold drink that has been sitting around for a while, the ice can start to melt and cause your drink to become watered down. Also, when you’re using your hands to stir the drink or to hold it while drinking, the heat from your body can cause the ice to melt. To avoid both of these issues, you have two options: move the drink to a cold place or use a straw to prevent the ice from melting. Unfortunately, moving the drink somewhere else is not always an option. Sometimes, you just want to grab a drink on the go. In those cases, a plastic straw is the perfect solution. (Not surprisingly, plastic straws are also perfect for taking a drink orders outside of the home. You can use them in bars and restaurants to ensure guests enjoy cold beverages in the heat of summer.)

Since the early 1900s, the plastic straw has been a source of wonder for scientists, who have been trying to find a way to use it for medical purposes. In fact, during the early 1900s, doctors began using straws to help patients who had trouble swallowing. After the first sip, the straw was placed in the mouth, the liquid was allowed to flow down the hatchway and into the stomach. This process was repeated as needed until the drink was finished. Although this process worked well for many years, scientists have since discovered that there are alternatives to the plastic straw.

The Rise Of The Glasses-Freeze

If you’ve ever tried to drink a cold drink without a glass, you know how frustrating it can be. Especially if you have a drink with crushed ice, it’s virtually impossible to consume without using a glass. However, there are alternatives to plastic straws and ice-filled drinks. One company, named Chattanooga-based Blue Point Ice Cream, decided to tackle this problem head-on by developing a way of offering glasses-freeze. Their product is named “Polar Ice.”

Polar Ice is a line of fruit-flavored gourmet ice creams created by an entrepreneur named Doug Sederstrom. As a child, he would often hide in the back of the ice cream truck, waiting for his favorite flavors to be delivered. So when he decided to develop a way to enjoy his childhood sweet dreams, he figured out a way to make it happen. (He also figured out a way to put the “freeze” in glasses-freeze. Prior to developing Polar Ice, he worked for a company that made glass freezers. When he suggested creating a line of glasses-freeze products, his bosses were skeptical. They thought he was crazy until they tasted one of his samples and were completely convinced. After that, they gave him the go-ahead to develop his own line of frosty treats.)

Like the slushie, Polar Ice is another example of an invention that caught on and continued to grow in popularity after its release, thanks in part to the surge of interest in all things “ice cream” in the early 2000s. So what makes Polar Ice different? First, it comes in a convenient pail rather than a traditional cup or a tall glass. Second, it contains no ice, so it stays fresh for longer. Third, it is totally transparent, so you can watch the ice cream melt as you eat it. Finally, because it contains no artificial products, it has a completely natural, in-house-made taste. For these reasons and more, Polar Ice was named “Best New Product” by the American Institute of Stress in 2010.

The Revival Of The Classic

After going through a period of unprecedented growth in the early 2000s, the slushie’s popularity began to dwindle. However, it did not disappear completely. There were simply more options for consumers to drink what they want. Also, while many companies focused on creating new and exciting variations of the slushie, some decided to go back to the original and rekindle its magic. (Wondering what the magic is all about? Check out this blog post to find out more!)

One such company is BizEaze, an established, San Diego-based business that focuses on selling wholesale quantities of office equipment, including fax machines, copy machines and computer systems. But until recently, they have also been selling paper goods, including napkins, cups and utensils, and office supplies, including pens and pencils. In 2009, they decided to bring back the classic slushie with a modern twist and create a new line of frozen beverages, aptly named “Classic Shells.” (To learn more, check out this informative blog post on them.)

Many people, including ourselves, were skeptical that the classic drink would find favor in this day and age. But when BizEaze unveiled their new line of frozen drinks at the National Café Association annual conference in 2014, we were pleasantly surprised by the positive feedback. In fact, one of their new products, a strawberry-flavored drink, even won the prestigious “Best New Product” award from the café industry’s top professional organization, the American Institute of Stress.

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