Who Invented Sonic – Nugget Ice?

Nugget ice has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its soft and chewy texture. It has much more air and has a greater surface area than traditional ice cubes.

Its unique character makes it the perfect type of ice to cool your drinks, while also letting you concede to your ice chewing habit without damaging your teeth.

But who invented nugget ice? And when did the hype begin?

This, and more, will be explored in this article, so let’s jump in!

Table of Contents

When Was Nugget Ice Invented?

The American commercial ice trade was started in the early 1800s by New England businessman Frederic Tudor.

He actually started the trade by shipping large blocks of ice (up to 300 pounds) that were cut from frozen ponds to the Caribbean and southern states, which were obviously dealing with hotter climates.

However, it wasn’t until the 1850s that the first actual commercial ice-making machines were invented. People in the commercial ice trade kept improving these machines until the 1930s, which is when the first machines were created that were capable of producing edible ice.

Until 1981, ice was almost always made the old-fashioned way which meant the only type of ice you could get were hard, solid ice cubes.

However, after decades of research and development, in 1981 nugget ice (and nugget ice makers) were finally invented.

We have been enjoying the deliciously soft and chewy nugget ice and those convenient pellet ice makers ever since!

Who Invented Nugget Ice

Scotsman ice systems logo

It is one of the most popular and prominent ice maker companies known to date that actually invented nugget ice and nugget/ pellet ice makers in 1981. It was the Scotsman Company that invented a process to make nugget ice.

The process of how nugget ice makers work is actually quite complicated, which means Scotsman invested quite some time and money to create the ice we all love.

Scotsman actually celebrated the invention of nugget ice with a “Luv the Nug” campaign, a digital community that unites passionate ice chewers everywhere.

One of the key components of the Luv the Nug campaign was a contest. By submitting a “nug moment” on LuvtheNug.com, one lucky member of the Nugget Nation had “Won the Nug” and received a Scotsman undercounter nugget ice machine.

Scotsman’s nugget ice makers (and those of other brands) actually became increasingly popular when the fast-food restaurant Sonic Drive-in started using them. It did not take long for Sonic to gain a cult-like following for their ice, with dedicated Facebook groups to match the hype. This is why nugget ice is often also referred to as Sonic ice.

Today, nugget ice is one of the most beloved types of ice in the country, so I guess we now know who to thank for it!


So, it was the popular ice maker manufacturer Scotsman that actually invented nugget ice and nugget ice makers in 1981

Since I’m an avid ice chewer and couldn’t possibly see myself going without my nugget ice maker, I am glad that Scotsman paved the way for the nugget/sonic/pellet ice (makers) we know today!

Let me know what your thoughts on pellet ice and pellet ice makers are in the comments below!


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