Have some questions about sonic ice? Unfamiliar with how sonic ice differs from other chewable icelets? It seems there has been a lot of confusion regarding this subject, and we're here to clear things up.
Below you'll find a comprehensive guide to how sonic ice is made, where you can find it and how you can make it at home.
What is Sonic Ice?
In the scientific sense, it’s ice that has a medium surface area and an airy, chewy quality. It melts at an optimal speed and doesn’t taint your beverage as much as normal ice will.
Sonic ice was initially introduced in 1981 by a company named Scotsman. Up until then, you only ever saw ice in cube or shaved form.
Sonic ice is created by compacting together fragments of shaved ice to form small pellets. The air pockets formed in between the shaved ice allow you to bite through without fear of chipping any of your beautiful teeth.
Why the Obsession?
While not all of us are keen ice aficionados, there are some obvious downsides to cubed and shaved ice.
Cubed ice is teeth shatteringly hard, and shaved ice dissolves too quickly.
Plain and simple.
Sonic ice is the healthy medium between these two extremes. It's strong enough to stay together as a pellet, but will quickly break down with any semblance of force.
Sonic Vs. Nugget Vs. Chewblet Vs. Pellet Ice
If you’re perusing the internet, searching for your next favorite ice, then you’ll come across at least five different names for this one type of ice.
Sonic ice, nugget ice, chewblet ice, pellet ice, and pebble ice.
If you were as confused as we were, don’t worry - we did our homework.They’re all the same.
That’s right, they’re all the exact same kind of ice. From what we gather, people just have a really hard time deciding on what to name these perfected ice pieces. Originally, in 1981 when Scotsman made the first nugget ice maker - that’s exactly what they called it. But Sonic ice sounds cooler, so let’s stick with that for now.
Sonic Ice Vs. Bullet Ice
There is an important distinction to make between Sonic ice and bullet ice. While Sonic ice is chewable, clear ice, bullet ice isn’t either of those things.
Instead, bullet ice is a small, cloudy, bullet-shaped ice that melts quickly and usually works faster than classic ice. If you’ve ever gotten ice from a hotel, then you’ve most likely had this kind before.
Sonic ice is often seen as the superior ice because it doesn’t taint the flavor of your beverage and it’s a perfect snack with your drink.
5 Ways to get Sonic Ice
1. Find a nearby Sonic
I’m sure this seems like the obvious option, however, there are a few things that might be good to know before heading to your local Sonic.
First, understand your options. You can, of course, purchase a large beverage and enjoy it with their Sonic ice. Also, you can just buy a large cup of their ice. Lastly, you can purchase their ice by the bag - at most restaurants. They sell it for anywhere from $2.00 to $3.00 for a 10 pound bag.
That’s the good part...the bad part? Well, unless you plan on using all of that ice at once, you’re going to end up disappointed. Sadly, Sonic ice doesn’t hold up very well in or out of the freezer. The ice will become irreversibly hard, defeating the purpose of the ice.
This isn’t solely a Sonic problem, this is any type of nugget ice out there. The freshness is what makes it sing. If that disappoints you, don’t worry, there are still a few other options yet to come.
2. Find a nearby Chick-fil-A
Chick-fil-A has thrown their hat in the ring to be added to the list of many names for Sonic ice. While they may be famous for their out-of-this-world customer service and an amazing sauce, their ice comes in at a cool third place. They sell bags of their ice 5 pounds at a time for $1.50.
3. Find a nearby Zaxbys
There must be something about pairing delicious fried chicken with munchable nugget ice. Another competitor for the best fast-food ice, Zaxbys is a fast-food chicken restaurant with more than 650 locations across 16 states. They also sell bags of their ice at select locations.
4. Buy a Home Sonic Ice Maker
Now here’s an idea - why not just buy a machine like they use and have it on demand? You can absolutely do that. There is a multitude of companies that have since joined Scotsman to make Sonic ice machines. Call us nerds if you want, but we have some favorites.
1. GE Opal Nugget Ice Maker is easily the best and most reviewed Sonic ice maker out there today. With over 12,000 Amazon reviews and a strong 4.5 star rating - it’s no wonder why it tops our list of best nugget ice makers.
2. Our other favorite is the KBIce Self Dispensing nugget ice maker. This Sonic ice machine stands out from the pack because it has something the other ones don’t - a self-dispensing mechanism. Which makes for less cleaning and more enjoyment.
Buying a nugget ice maker is the most convenient way to have Sonic ice on demand. Hey, even Matthew McConaughey has one. They’re easy to use, the ones we mentioned hold a decent amount of ice, and they’re incredibly convenient. It’s a no-brainer why we consider these more than "alright, alright, alright."
While we absolutely love these machines, it’s only fair to mention a few of the downsides of owning a Sonic ice machine. First, they’re expensive - these nugget ice machines can get up into the mid to high thousands. Second, they require a decent amount of TLC - you’ll have to keep it clean like you do your coffee maker, oven, and microwave. Lastly, they’re not small. You’ll have to clear off a counter or get one installed underneath your countertop.
Overall, this is the most effective, most convenient way to satisfy your Sonic ice cravings. Check out our full list of our 13 Best Sonic Ice Makers.
5. Make your Own at Home
If you’re nowhere near a Sonic, Chick-fil-A, or Zaxbys - and you aren’t in the market for a Sonic nugget ice maker - then you can always try making it at home. We dug up a great video on how to make Sonic ice at home. There are a few pros and cons, so listen carefully and take notes, there might be a test after 🙂
Whether you call it Sonic ice, pebble ice, pellet ice, chewblet ice, or nugget ice - we hope this helped clear up the best ways to satiate your cravings.
So head over to your nearest Sonic, Chick-fil-A, or Zaxbys and get a cup or a bag. You could also just pick up a Sonic ice maker. Or maybe you’ll just do it yourself. Either way, we sincerely hope you enjoy it.
We hope this comprehensive article on Sonic Ice cleared things up for you. Let us know if any questions or comments come to mind!
Founder of Robust Kitchen