Tuesday, July 25, 2023

ICEE with my Little Eye

I know, it's "I Spy,", but that doesn't work for today's blog title. Work with me here, people!

I drove past an unassuming little garage sale a few weeks ago.  I almost didn't stop as it looked like mostly new items, but I figured, "Hey, I'm here."

The host was probably in his 40's, so I was surprised to find a vintage 1968 Icee Bear gym(?) bag for sale for $1.

For most kids of my generation, the 7-11 "Slurpee" was the iced drink of choice (more on that later), but for me, it was Icee; specifically Coke Icee.

The closest 7-11 to me was beyond bicycling distance (not that my mom would ever let me bicycle more than a few blocks from our home and never on the main road anyway, although I did sneak onto it occasionally).  So I'd never sampled the Slurpee. But, there was a sweet spot in my childhood where for a year or two we went to a local department store chain called "Venture" monthly, typically on a Friday evening, that had a snack bar.  It was my first stop in the store.  I always ordered either a popcorn or pretzel and a Coke Icee (the other choice was the red Icee which I believe was cherry).  If I recall correctly, they had a special for 99 cents.  I remember the one and only time I desecrated a comic book was to cut out a 25 cent off coupon on an Icee.

Anyway, I would walk around the store, perusing the toy and book aisles leisurely eating my popcorn or pretzel and slurping my Icee (probably not the best thing to do in the book aisle, but I recall no incidents or accidents).  Magical times.

The bottom of the bag has a "This bag property of" space to fill out which has been half-heartedly redacted.  It appears the original owner was Joe Walsh (I wonder if Life's Been Good to him. HA!)

The bag was manufactured by the John E. Mitchell Company in 1968.

There's not much information about the company on the internet other than they were a textile company that transitioned to munitions during WWII. At first I thought they had just been contracted to make the bag for Icee, until I read the history of Icee. From Wikipedia:

The Icee was invented in 1958 by Omar Knedlik, a Dairy Queen owner in Coffeyville, Kansas.The beverage was the result of faulty equipment in the Dairy Queen owned by Knedlik. His soda machine broke and he began placing bottles of soda in the freezer to keep them cold. Knedlik began selling bottles of the soda which would instantly turn to slush once opened. The frozen soda became popular with the customers of the establishment.

Knedlik partnered with the John E Mitchell Company in Dallas to develop the machine, for which Knedlik received a patent in 1960.
Further from Wikipedia:
The name Icee as well as the original company logo were developed by Ruth E. Taylor, a local artist and friend of Knedlik. She developed the name "Icee", as well as the idea of the logo's icicles hanging from the block letters, which has remained unchanged. She thought of the Polar Bear, but the actual bear mascot had already been created by the Norsworthy-Mercer ad agency. The "Icee" word with the snow on it was designed by a Mitchell Company staff artist, Lonnie Williams, as part of a cup he designed.
So the company that produced this bag also produced the Icee machines and designed the "Icee" logo.  The bag seems like an odd promotional tie-in, but you gotta love those graphics.

The bear has changed since it's original inception.  Like most mascots of the era, it's been re-worked in EXTREME RADICAL DUDE design.

There are other teen (tween?) versions of the bear on the Icee Slush products:

By the mid 1960's, the success of the Icee had caught the eyes of the owners of 7-11 who invested in a several (or 100, depending on where you read) machines and test-marketed the drinks.  I would have thought the Icee company would have wanted the Icee name used, but they actually specified in the contract with 7-11 that they had to be called something else, thus the "Slurpee" was born, inspired by the sound made when drinking them.

You can even find Icee in the breakfast aisle now (thanks for the reminder, Top Cat!)

Today there are over 75,000 Icee machines selling over 300 million Icees per year. They can be found in multiple locations including McDonald's, Burger King, Walmart,  and Target, among others.


  1. I used to love a Slurpee when I was a kid or a Mister Misty from Dairy Queen.

    1. Were Mister Mistys like an Icee/Slurpee?

    2. I used to like Mr. Mistys too. They were similar to Slurpees, but fruit flavoured. Lime was the best.

  2. man, that's a sweet, SWEET bag. i'm jealous! i'd use that in a heartbeat. also, i'm with you: Coke Icees or slushies in general are the best.

  3. Where I grew up, Iceees were as synonymous with K-mart as blue-light specials and floor popcorn. Never saw them offered anywhere else.

    Have you tried the new Kelloggs Icee cereal yet? Smells great, tastes kinda weird.

    1. >Where I grew up, Iceees were as synonymous with K-mart as blue-light >specials and floor popcorn.
      Ha! Floor popcorn. I know exactly what you mean. I did get popcorn and Icees at Kmart too.
      >Have you tried the new Kelloggs Icee cereal yet?
      I haven't, but I meant to mention that. I've seen it in the stores and frankly, it frightens me.

  4. We didn't have a 7-11 when I was a kid but the local KMart had Icees at the snack bar. Always a must when tagging along with grandma doing her shopping.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...