The ICEE Company is a beverage company located in Ontario, California, USA. Its flagship product is the ICEE, which is a frozen carbonated beverage available in fruit and soda flavors. ICEE also produces other frozen beverages and Italian ice pops under both the ICEE and Slush Puppie brands. The company's mascot is an anthropomorphic cartoon polar bear. It has been a division of J & J Snack Foods Corporation since 1988.
The ICEE Company has over 75,000 ICE machines across the US serving 300 million ICEEs per year. McDonald's and Subway restaurants inside Wal-Mart stores sell ICEEs. Burger King in the US and Canada sell ICEEs and ICEE Floats. Target and Wawa also sell ICEEs inside their stores. In Mexico, ICEE is widely available at department stores such as Sears and Wal-Mart, and inside movie theaters and convenience stores. ICEE is also the primary frozen beverage sold in Wawa and Quick Chek, two convenience store chains in the Mid-Atlantic region of the US. Valero gas stations co-branded with their CornerStore marts (except for those independently owned) sell the ICEE.
Circle K licensed the ICEE in 1998 as their ThirstFreezer prior to 2003 (after the merger with Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., the ThirstFreezer was replaced with Couche-Tard's Froster).
The ICEE was invented in 1958 by Omar Knedlik, a Dairy Queen owner in Coffeyville, Kansas. He had been placing bottles of soda in his freezer until frozen, since he lacked a soda fountain. The frozen drinks were popular and he soon realized that he needed a machine to make the product. Knedlik eventually approached the John E Mitchell Company in Dallas to develop the machine. The Mitchell Company had been making cotton cleaning equipment, had diversified to aftermarket automobile air conditioning units, and was looking to diversify further as aftermarket air conditioners were eventually replaced by OEM units. It was natural fit for Mitchell and Knedlik in developing a machine that could handle the rigors of commercial use and had the manufacturing capabilities to make the machines to fulfill the growing demand. After 5 years Knedlik's idea had become the iconic ICEE Machine. He originally wanted his product to be called "scoldasice". However, he asked a local artist and friend, Ruth E. Taylor, to create a marketing name and logo for his invention. 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. The Mitchell Company instituted a two-tiered franchise plan involving "Developers" and "Subdevelopers. Essentially, the Developers and Subdevelopers both paid fees and rentals for the right to use specified numbers of ICEE dispensers and for rights within exclusive territories to distribute the machines and to promote the sale of the Icee drink. By the mid-1960s, 300 ICEE machines had been manufactured.