Have you ever left your bottle of soft drink in the freezer a bit too long and been pleasantly surprised by the resulting slush? That's the concept behind Coca-Cola Ice Up — a super-cooled bottle dispenser that shoots out "self-freezing" Coke bottles. Feeling parched on a hot spring day, I decided to try it out...
Earlier in the week, I spotted the curious contraption below while buying lunch at a takeaway chicken store. "That just came in yesterday," the cheerful manager informed me as I went to take a closer look. "It's gonna go gangbusters in summer!"
Having only just recovered from my 7-Eleven Slurpee crawl, the thought of ingesting even more semi-frozen liquid didn't exactly fill me with excitement — in fact, it caused my skull to throb dully like an old war wound.
But there was no way I was going to pass up such an intriguing Lifehacker Taste-Test. My dedication to the job (and addiction to soft drink) demanded I give it a try.
Curiously, the machine does not require you to insert any coins; instead you just push the big red button and a 450ml Coke bottle rolls out which you pay for at the counter.
This is likely to be a problematic procedure for store owners; especially during the first few months when curiosity will get the better of many customers. (Indeed, when I went back to the store the next day, the manager had added a hastily scrawled sign asking people not to press the button unless they intended to buy one.)
Thankfully, while the delivery method is ill-thought out the actual product works exactly as advertised. At first glance, the Coke inside the bottle looks completely normal, but once you take a swig and upend the bottle it fills up with ice crystals as if by magic.
The result sits a few rungs below a Slurpee in the frozen drink stakes — it has a slushy texture but does not require a straw or spoon to drink. As mentioned in the opening paragraph, it's reminiscent of a Coke that has been left in the freezer slightly too long. It definitely makes for a refreshing beverage on a hot day, especially if you're already a Coke fan.
So how is it done? As far as we can tell, the Ice Up machine uses a refrigeration method that keeps the liquid at a constant temperature just above freezing. (Presumably, the pressure in the bottle also keeps the liquid from turning solid.)
We've contacted Coke to see if they can share any additional science about the process. We'll update the article when a representative gets back to us.
In the meantime, you can find out where the nearest Ice Up dispenser is by paying a visit to Coca-Cola's Facebook page.