Everyone has had a slurpee at one time in their life...especially on very hot dry days or after a long day at school. Growing up, I remember the slurpee being very popular in our household..my sister absolutely loved her slurpees and she would do just about anything for these slushy drinks...Ohhhhh...the stories and ohhhhhh all those bribes...lol Those were the days. (Wink, Wink Dee).
Anyway, back to my story, many of you are probably not familiar with the birth of the slurpee...it is quite interesting how the slurpee and the slurpee machine came about. Omar Knedlik a poor farm boy born in Barnes, Kansas in 1916 and who served in World War II bought his first ice cream shop after the war. He then moved to Coffeyville, Kansas, where he became the owner of a Dairy Queen in the late-1950's. He did not have a great soda fountain and it would break down often, forcing him to put his sodas in a freezer to stay cool, which in turn would cause them to become slushy...he would freeze bottles of soda and just serve them instead. As it turns out, his customers preferred the frozen sodas to regular fountain drinks and kept coming back for more.
It was this moment that gave him the idea of building his own slurpee (icee) machine. Knedlik worked with a Dallas Company and it took him five years to build the first ICEE® (Slurpee) machine. Early prototypes for the machine were used from an automobile air conditioning unit. And by the mid-60s about 300 ICEE® (Slurpee) machines had been manufactured. In 1965, 7-Eleven began a licensing deal with the ICEE company to sell the product under certain conditions. The first condition was that they had to come up with a different name for the product, and second, were only allowed to sell the product in 7-Eleven locations in the U.S. And it was in 1967 that 7-Eleven sold the product known as "The Slurpee" (for the sound made when drinking them). So now that we have covered the history of the slurpee and the making of the slurpee machine...we can go on with the story! Onward We Go!
What you may not have heard is the tale of Edna Smiley, one of Omar Knedlik’s first customers, who was changed forever by her first ICEE experience. She was thirteen years old when she walked into the Dairy Queen that day. She had been there many times, but had never had the soon-to-be-famous ICEE. She ordered a burger, fries, and a small water, and sat down at a booth in the corner.
For two days, Edna had been plagued with worry and despair. She had borrowed her great-grandmother’s diamond ring from her mother’s jewelry box, and had taken it to try on. A couple hours after putting it on her finger, she looked down to find it missing! It had slipped off without her noticing while she played. She felt distress like never before in her young life. She had lost her great grandmother’s ring, her small town family’s most valuable possession. The ring, which had been handed down through four generations, which was worth a lot – in both sentiment and value.
Edna sat, slowly eating, and preparing a speech of how to tell her mother the ring was gone, when a restaurant clerk approached her. She looked up to find an ICEE in front of her on the table. The clerk said, “ON THE HOUSE,” winked and walked away. He was hoping to cheer the serious and troubled girl with this small and kind gesture.
She took five or six big, fast gulps of the frozen, carbonated soda. Instantly, her whole head rushed with sensation. Uh Oh...THE FAMOUS BRAIN FREEZE! Her brain rang with the piercing cold; her back teeth felt ready to explode under the pressure of ice. She had a vision! The toothbrush cup! She had taken the ring off and dropped it into the toothbrush holder before she had washed her hands. The ICEE headache (BRAIN FREEZE) was a revelation, a message from above! She sucked down the rest of the ICEE and ran home as fast as she could. Sure enough that is exactly where that ring was. She hurried to put the ring back in her mother’s jewelry box, safe and sound, and back where she had found it.
Edna Smiley has had an ICEE everyday since that very special day. Legend has it that the “ring vision” was the first of many. To this day, people line up at Edna’s door to ask to here her famous story and her inspiring words as she sips her ICEE. It is at this moment that people gather in hopes of sharing, understanding (or at least witnessing) the metaphysical POWER OF THE ICEE (SLURPEE).