How Slurpees Were Accidentally Invented

It's a jumping Saturday night, and a couple of college students are heading out on the town. As with all wild nights on the town, the first thing to do before anything else is swing by the 7-Eleven or the nearest convenience store for a couple of snacks. They whip into the parking lot and, after some debate on what to get, decide to load up on those cheap jumbo-sized soft pretzels, a bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos, and last but not least, a few cups of that half-frozen elixir, the Slurpee.

It's no secret that many people love Slurpees. There's something about this remarkably simple frozen treat that has propelled the frozen drink into being synonymous with everything from the 1990s to gas station snacks. Maybe it's the wide variety of flavors it comes in, or the novelty of being able to eat your soda with a revolutionary combination of a plastic spoon and straw (via Bon Appetit). Whatever the case may be, there's no denying that the Slurpee redefined how people can enjoy a refreshing beverage.

But just how exactly did the famous sugar-filled soft slush come to be? According to some sources, the Slurpee was invented not out of some divine moment of inspiration nor in the marketing room of 7-Eleven headquarters. It was, instead, invented thanks to a broken soda fountain.

Omar Knedlik accidentally invented the Slurpee

As Mental Floss reports, the invention of the Slurpee can be credited to Omar Knedlik. An owner of a Kansas City Dairy Queen in the late 1950s, Knedlik was forced to deal with less-than-reliable equipment, such as an old soda fountain. When this fountain gave up the ghost one day, Knedlik decided to store the excess bottles of soda in one of the freezers to keep them cold. Unfortunately for him, he would discover that the freezer had partially frozen the sodas into a slush-like consistency. But fortune had not yet abandoned Knedlik, as it appeared that customers loved the frozen treat, to the point that their requests were so great that Knedlik had to jury-rig a specialized machine from a car's AC unit to make the drinks. He called it an ICEE.

But if the Slurpee has roots in Dairy Queen, why is it so widely connected to 7-Eleven? According to Eater, 7-Eleven purchased the ICEE machine from Knedlik, who in turn would receive royalties for 17 years until the machine's patents expired. Under 7-Eleven's vast marketing expertise, the company was not only able to mass-produce the Slurpee but even gave the drink its iconic name. After all, don't you slurp your Slurpee while you drink it?