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If you’ve ever been to a Sonic Drive-In and ordered a cool, refreshing drink, you’ve experienced the cultural phenomenon that is Sonic ice. These nugget- or pebble-style ice cubes, described by GQ as having a shape that “is something like a tater tot or a beer keg, only tiny,” have a huge fan following.
Supposedly, the ice’s high surface area means that the ice melts more slowly and its texture makes it perfect for chewing.
On the internet, fans often express their love of Sonic ice. Apparently, craving Sonic ice is a thing, as there are a ton of people online, like @belisee_, who want it immediately, but maybe couldn’t get there before closing time.
currently craving some crushed ice from sonic😭
— cinnabae. (@belisee_) July 19, 2021
Sonic ice just makes some people do a happy dance, like @Firstcousin_p.
Him:” What makes you do your happy dance?”
Me: SONIC ice
— ~Unknown~ (@Firstcousin_p) July 13, 2021
And others, like @itspreciousan, say that chomping on ice is as good as eating candy.
Mya and I will eat a bag of sonic ice like it’s candy 😅
— Precious (@itspreciousan) July 20, 2021
Delish noted in 2019 that one franchise owner had started limiting customers to two cups of ice and that certain locations had started selling Sonic ice by the bag. Other fans have gone straight to the source for Sonic ice.
“We’ve definitely heard of people tracking down the maker and buying our ice machines to keep at home so they have access to Sonic ice 24/7,” Scott Uehlein, Sonic’s vice president of product innovation and development, told GQ.
Among those people is actor Matthew McConaughey, who apparently waxed enthusiastic about his ice machine, the Manitowoc QF-400, in a 2008 interview.
“I looked for years for the freezer that would make Sonic ice in your very own home, and that’s the only one that’ll pull it off,” the actor told Texas Monthly. “Best damn ice in the world!”
A little research revealed that the type of nugget ice that Sonic uses was first made by Scotsman machines, which does make ice machines for residential use. But these cost thousands of dollars, which puts them out of reach for many people.
However, we’ve located an ice maker for your kitchen that isn’t quite that pricey. If you’re one of those people who craves Sonic ice all the time and you’d like a more convenient source than your nearest Sonic (which, for me, is 24 minutes away and yes, I’ve done that trip just to fill a Sonic craving), you’re going to want to check out the GE Profile Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker.
The portable GE Profile ice maker is the perfect modern appliance. The countertop appliance makes up to a pound of ice in an hour and holds 3 pounds at a time, which means you’ll have plenty of it for your daily ice-chewing needs. It’s in the top four for our best portable ice maker picks.
It’s operated by a mobile app (so you can schedule fresh ice and monitor your ice maker’s status) and doesn’t require any water hook-up; simply add water to the reservoir. If you don’t use the ice, it simply melts and gets reused.
The ice maker costs $549 and has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon. A number of reviewers are clearly Sonic ice fans, with one saying that Sonic ice helped cure their nicotine cravings. And one reviewer said that it’s “[w]orth the price for the ‘good’ ice,” which is pretty much all you need to know.
The product is available elsewhere, of course. On GE’s site it costs $599, but there’s also a store finder so you can purchase it in person at a location near you. You may also be able to find it at Williams-Sonoma and Best Buy and stores like Home Depot. The GE Profile ice maker also went on sale for $100 off during Amazon Prime Day this year, so you might be able to catch it on sale if you have the patience to wait.
If you need a supply of “the good ice” on hand all the time, buying this ice maker is a better option than lugging home bags of Sonic ice whenever you’re near one, although at least you can get some burgers and slushes while you’re there. Admit it, you’re tempted.