What is the ice at Sonic Drive-In Called?

What is the ice at Sonic Drive-In Called?

Over the years, the SONIC drive-in restaurant chain has gained a cult-like following for their ice (I may or may not be one of them).

The soft and chewy character of sonic ice has led to a rise in the popularity of sonic/ pellet ice machines across the nation.

And they’re more than aware of it too! “It’s not ‘just ice’ – it’s SONIC Ice! It’s cherished, cold and crunchable. Really, it’s America’s Hottest Ice,” said Lori Abou Habib, Chief Marketing Officer for SONIC.

But why is this type of ice so good? And what is the ice at sonic called? That, and more will be discussed in this article!

So let’s jump in!

What Is The Ice At Sonic Called?

The Ice at Sonic Drive-in is often called nugget ice. It’s basically flaked ice that is compressed into small cylinder-shaped ice nuggets (similar shape to tater tots). This type of ice is also known as nugget ice, pellet ice, the good-ice, hospital ice, pearl ice, compressed flaked ice, and pebble ice (although pebble ice is less soft and chewy).

crushed ice

There are a lot of other stores and restaurants that sell nugget ice, like chick-fil-a, and Zaxby’s to name a few.

Why Is Sonic/ Nugget Ice So Good?

What is all the fuss about nugget ice? Why do people like it so much?

Well… according to Scott Uehlein, Vice President of Product Innovation and Development for SONIC, “The crunch and texture in every bite of SONIC’s Ice is one reason guests love it so much,”.

Nugget ice

“Our ice melts more slowly, keeping the refreshing flavor of our drinks longer, but we also know some of our guests enjoy the cold ice just as much by itself”.

As a fan of nugget ice myself, I got to say, I couldn’t agree with Scott more. I simply love the texture of nugget ice, it’s absorbent and chewable, and every little pebble carries some of the cocktail/ beverage with it, which is great!

Why Is Nugget Ice Better Than Other Types?

I think people prefer nugget ice over other types of ice because of its absorbent and chewy texture.

nugget ice maker

Due to the way that nugget ice is formed (shaven and then compressed), it’ll melt or break down faster at the touch of your warm mouth, but at the same time keep its form for a longer period when kept at a lower temperature.

This enables you to chew on nugget ice without damaging your teeth while also keeping your drink chilled for a longer time.

Finally, nugget ice has a higher surface area to volume ratio, which means that it cools drinks faster.

Does Sonic Put Sugar In Their Ice?

No, Sonic does not put sugar in their ice.

Many people seem to think they do, because of how good it tastes, but that’s just because of the absorbent texture of sonic ice.

nugget ice

Due to its texture, every little nugget absorbs a bit of the beverage and then chills it. This gives it the impression that it has sugar.

Can I Buy A Bag Of Ice At Sonic?

Yes, you can buy a bag of ice at Sonic (at most locations)

In fact, the famous nugget ice from Sonic is available in a large, 10-pound bag, and it only costs $2!

Does eating nugget ice help you to lose weight

That’s a pretty sweet deal if you ask me.

Do note that the price for these 10-pound bags varies by location (and some restaurants do not sell the ice).

Can You Make Sonic Ice At Home?

When you look at how a nugget ice maker works, you can see that it would be impossible to recreate the process by hand.

However, while it is impossible to make ice at home with the same soft and chewy texture as sonic ice, it is possible to make pebble-style ice at home (which is a bit harder).

In order to make pebble ice at home, you would have to buy some tools though.

If you want to learn how to make pebble ice at home, take a look at the DIY – Nugget ice section under “extra info”.


There you have it! Everything you need to know about the ice at Sonic Drive-in!

If you want to be able to make nugget/ sonic ice at home as well, I highly recommend one of these ice makers. You can find in-depth reviews and buying guides on my homepage!

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!

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