Jul 4, 2010

Frozen in Time

I bought a Frozen Coke yesterday.

A foolish drink for winter weather, absolutely. But damn it was tasty. And it had a nostalgia factor.

Proper Frozen Cokes are the best of the iced carbonated beverage options. Better than the 7-11 Slurpees, or the Night-Owl Slushies (who wants to add syrup to crushed ice anyway?). My local IGA has some weird granita machine. The flavours are far too sweet, like a frozen dacquiri sans liquor.

But proper Frozen Coke machines are getting harder to find outside large cinema chains and McDonald's - where they seem to cost a bomb. I suspect it's because Frozen Cokes were the drink of choice at Shell service stations, and since many of them have rebranded across to Coles, the Frozen Coke machines have been mystifyingly ripped out.

I first encountered Frozen Cokes when the Shell at Albany Creek opened up, back when I was about ten or eleven. It was just up the road from my house, and my neighbour Matthew Blake one day popped in carrying a bucket of tantalising pink stuff. Matthew was famous for his knowledge of available junk food in the local area. My Dad used to joke that Matthew studied the menu in the newly-built McDonald's (near the Shell) by leaning out of his bedroom window with a pair of binoculars. It was Matthew who'd introduced me to those delicious chocolate cigarettes. Remember those? They came in a box with a world city on them, and they were individually wrapped in paper. Ah, bless the days before anti-smoking fascism.

On hot days after school, or on weekends, we'd run up to the Shell (back then the shop was called "Circle K"), and grab ourselves a bucket of drink. It was awesome. The smallest cup was about 90 cents. The biggest - which would've hit at least 1.5 litres, was just $1.50. And it'd last forever - you'd be trying to drink it quickly so the ice didn't all melt and leave you with a weird sticky cordial residue at the bottom of the tub.

The BEST part was filling the slurpee. Those FOOLS at the service station would let you fill up your own cup. DON'T THEY KNOW I'M A SWEET-TOOTHED ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD? my inner monologue would cry. Each flavour (generally brown Coke and pink Fanta) had its own tap, with a handle you could twist. At the right consistency, you could manipulate the liquid in the classic spiral slurpee pattern so it thrust outward from the container, like a volcanic eruption of sweetness and delight. The sense of accomplishment I felt in mastering the Slurpee pour is one I've not forgotten. I have very few real skills to speak of, but damnit, I'm proud of that one.

So it was with some disappointment that I approached the Frozen Coke machine in the Shell on Bowen Bridge Road yesterday to find a brand spanking new machine - with NO HANDLES.

I had fancied a brief foray back into my childhood; a chance to turn the handles of fate once more, to be master of my carbonated destiny. But in their place?


Apparently humans are now so incompetent, or perhaps far too prone to carpal tunnel syndrome, that they need a green button labelled "Push Here" to release their Frozen Coke goodness from its frosty repository.

I grabbed the smallest cup, placed it under the tap, and pushed the button. The Frozen Coke wasn't the best consistency; it was more liquid-y, and gushed out in an unimaginative vertical stream. The cup filled quickly, but there was no ART to it. No POETRY. No risk, no potential for danger or overspill. It was uninspiring, to say the least.

The only saving grace is that the Frozen Coke remains cheap when offered at service stations. My cup was about 500ml, and cost $2.40. I know, I know, much of it is air and nothing and it deflates quickly, but still, it's a damn sight cheaper than the $3.50 Macca's charges, or the $17 you'll fork out at the large cinema chain.

Does anybody else have a fond childhood memory relating to slurpees/sweets/lollies/chocolates/ice creams/chips? Surely I can't be alone...


  1. I'm just kind of jealous you had a Circle K near you as a child. There's always strange things afoot at those places.

  2. Hey Stu - I reckon we should BOTH probably get some sleep, huh?!?!?


  3. The Best Frozen Cokes are at the Cineplex and Victoria Point...and they have handles!

  4. I can still remember when the baker came door-to-door in Brisbane (late 60s, I guess). Every so often, he would give the kids a free cream bun each. That was always very special.
    Cheers, Tony.

  5. Ah, yes Anonymous!

    You raise a good point. The Cineplex chain use "Rainbow Smash" machines. Reasonably good flavours (although the cola and raspberry aren't quite up there with Frozen Coke brand), but good sizes and well-priced.

  6. Al and I used to do a slurpee run almost every day during one particular summer. We knew the 7-11 guy by name (pronounced Ian but with some weird asian spelling) and he would get very excited when a new flavour would come in. He'd have various recipes that he'd share. (2 parts cherry 1 part coke tastes just like Cherry Ripe)

    Ah halcyon days. I believe he went on to become a diving instructor or a pro skater or something equally as awesome.

  7. Circle K FTW! As Spiderbait once put it

    Ah went down to the Circle K
    Saw Kieran on the way
    Got myself a sausage roll
    Cost too much and it was cold

    OK, so it wasn't when they were in their most eloquent songwriting period, but the sentiment remains.

    Childhood junk food combos - I have a very evocative memory of the canteen at the local council swimming pool where we'd go for lessons and school carnivals. Something about the way the piquancy of the chlorine combined with the sharpness of tomato sauce flavoured Samboy chips that really brought out the best in them. Burger Rings worked almost as well.

  8. I'm so glad other people remember Circle K! Not sure whatever happened to them.

    Dan - experimenting with Slurpee combos is an important part of growing up. It's like the kid version of mixing a cocktail. My favourite is still the rather plain 50/50 combo of Frozen Coke and Frozen Raspberry Fanta.

    Doc - SAMBOY CHIPS FTW. Did you know they're back on shelves here now? I hate tomatoes and tomato sauce, but I love tomato chip flavouring!

    And question for you - every time I smell bleach I think of swimming lessons or public/school pools. It's a memory trigger - do you get the same?

  9. Samboy Salt and Vinegar FTW. Yeah, can't beat the Frozen Coke.

    Nuh-thing compares
    Nuh-THING compares
    to yooooooou.

  10. I was just having a food nostalgia conversation last night with some friends! The most popular topics were Vice Versas and Burger Man.

    But on frozen drinks - can I just point out that there are no 7-11s in Canberra, and frozen Coke machines are as hard to locate there as anywhere, so until moving to Melbourne in March I'd not had a frozen beverage in nigh on five years? That's deprivation, right there.

  11. So hang on Jasper - Canberra has all the porn and fireworks you can handle, but no slurpees? Well, the non-sleazy variety, at any rate.

    And OH how GOOD were Vice Versas? I loved those. I was also quite partial to Take 5 bars with the malt balls in them.

  12. Perhaps it is a Brisbane thing but we still have coke slurpee machines down here WITH HANDLES. Hows that, art, culture & sluprees with handles.

  13. Barnes - the man behind the counter told me it was a brand new machine. I suspect this could be the slow, zombie-like shuffle of progress. Hold onto your handles while you can!

  14. Monaco Bars have just been brought back - huzzah!

    My parents used to own/run a sort-of ice-cream van in Sydney when I was a kid. Not a soft-serve jobby, this was a VW van with the side cut out (to make a counter) which was pretty much a convenience store on wheels - chips, packet ice blocks, drinks... heck, you could even buy your smokes at these things. I remember many of my childhood summer days riding around in the back of this thing, oggling at all the sugary goodness and trying to sneak the odd handful of raspberry bullets or red frogs... Monaco Bars were always seen as the pinnacle of ice-cream goodness. It would be the prize of all prizes to be given one of them to savour.

  15. Albion - Monaco bars were the ones with biscuit outside the ice-cream, yeah?

    I'm not real good with actual ice-creams. I always preferred ice pops, the water-based ones. My favourites are still Calippos. Although I did make exceptions for the Bubble O'Bill. Bubblegum nose for the win!

  16. I remember the good old days of primary school where we had a shop just a short walk up from us, and I'd go with my friend who we had named the 'Slurpee queen' (becasue she had them almost every afternoon) and we'd get every single new and exciting colour there. And yes, they had handles! It was great fun. We'd put green on the bottom, blue, then pink, then purple, then brown, then with the pink we'd put a little 'Cherry' on top. The fun old days ... Where have they gone. -Rose

  17. GC - yep, the ice-cream sandwich. Proving the rule that every food is improved infinitely if sandwiched.

  18. 1c lollies at The Shop. My fondest for chocolate started at a very early age, in the days before one and two cent coins were taken out of circulation, when $1 could buy me a little white paper bag filled with 100 choc drops. What a treat! How I loved those little rounds of chocolatey goodness - only the brown ones though, not white because everybody knows that white chocolate is not really chocolate.

  19. hey Nat, what memories you have brought back.. As a child in Engaland farthings were a nuisance to everyone as like 1 and 2 cent pieces became here, but to me they were agonizing moments standing in the sweet shop trying to choose which lolly to choose. Hard ones lasted longer so they usually topped the list. A really good day was when I was given a penny and could choose 4. Heaven.

    Young and lovely Mater

  20. Frozen Mars Bars. As in actual Mars Bars, put in the freezer. Used to spend many a high school lunch hour gnawing on one. It's all fun and games until the root canal.

  21. Now I feel old. 2,3 and 4 for a cent lollies.. 20 cent in those day (with careful selections) would give you a bag of lollies that rival the $3 bags now.

    When ever I get to a swimming pool and the chlorine levels make you eyes hurt just looking at it, I feel the need to have a White Knight chocolate/mint bar. And if cash was limited, A Choo Choo bar....

    As far as Slurpy's are concerned, I get very afraid when I see them made with taurine added (for energy). It just begs for vodka... Scarey!!

  22. I went through a very big slurpee/frozen coke kick whilst heavily pregnant in the height of summer. I'm sure that wasn't the best choice I could make, but dang it was tasty.

    Crusty bread rolls, buttered and filled with Smiths chips will always make me think of high school.

  23. Rina Raven-Logans6:20 PM, August 07, 2012

    SLURPEE!!!!! I have a 7-11 down near Artarmon Station. I drop down there every day. But it's too expensive. I go through $12 every week. I like mixing the raspberry and the cherry.