Ice, Ice …. No, Thanks

So I am probably a little biased here, since I grew up in a country where things are generally thought over with logic in mind, before being implemented. And I’ll admit, that ice has its place in life. Ice, or frozen water as it is, has many uses. It makes things cold, usually sacrificing itself for the cause. Pretty nifty stuff. When it melts, it just turns to harmless water. Of course there are other substances that do a better job at keeping things cold, like freon, or liquid nitrogen, but those are generally expensive, and you don’t just want that stuff out in the atmosphere for no reason. So it seems that it is a pretty good idea to have ice around. If you go on an excursion for the day, you can put a bunch of ice in a cooler and it will kind of keep your beer and soda warm for a few hours. And afterwards, you just have a cooler full of water. So I really don’t hate ice. It has its purpose. But whose idea was it to go ahead and decide to put frozen water into a glass of soda, in order to make it cold? Isn’t that what refrigerators are for? Really, I can’t grasp the concept. Here is a list of reasons why it is a bad idea:

  • Ice touches your mouth when trying to drink, necessitating a straw.
  • Ice displaces liquid. Yep, when you buy a 16 oz. soda, you are indeed getting 12 oz. of ice and 4 oz of soda.
  • Energy cannot be created or destroyed. Just transerred and transformed. While removing heat from the soda, the ice is absorbing the heat. Therefore melting at the same rate that it cools.
  • Ice causes soda to go flat very quickly.
  • As the ice turns to water, the soda becomes diluted, making it virtually undrinkable.

Now, to be fair, here is the list of benefits to putting ice in your soda:

  • It makes certain parts of the soda slightly colder.
  • If you put enough ice in, you can make the entire soda seem ice-cold.

However, those same benefits can be achieved by chilling the soda before consumption. Now, I have some friends who think I’m crazy for my views about ice. They love ice. I can understand that in this country soda is very inexpensive, and virtually every establishment offers its clients free soda refills. So the displacement thing might not hold validity. And as you are reading the list of reasons why ice is a bad idea, and secretly thinking that I am dead wrong on this issue, let me ask you this: If ice doesn’t affect your soda at all in a negative way, why don’t people put ice in their beer? Or in their milk? (Although, I have seen this done, and it still kind of grosses me out.)

Where I grew up, soda is kept cold in the refrigerator. In fact, soda fountains have a cooling system built in. I’m no expert in the soda fountain industry, but I believe that American soda fountains also have a cooling system in place and running, but just not set to cool very much. So perhaps, the electric bill is higher, if the refrigeration unit were turned up a little more? Maybe. But how much does it cost to freeze water by the gallon all day? How much does the water cost? Are you saving money by creating ice to put in your soda, rather than just cooling the soda a little more? I can’t imagine. It takes more energy to cool water to its freezing point than it takes to cool soda an extra 5-10 degrees. In Germany, I have never encountered an establishment that offers its customers free refills on their beverages, although I have heard rumors that such places might exist in the meantime. But I haven’t really needed a free refill in Germany, since when I pay for a half liter of soda, I indeed get a half liter of soda. And more than that is probably unhealthy anyway. In fact, I went to a McDonald’s in Germany once, and noticed that they are pretty American about it, but do have some German tendencies built in. Their soda fountains are not cooled sufficiently, and they don’t give refills. So you order a large coke, and get a half liter of luke-warm soda. But there is no ice. Noticing that they have warm soda, I asked them if they had ice. And sure enough, they do have ice available on special request. But the look I got when ordering a soda with ice was priceless. It just said, “You are paying for a half liter of cola, and you are willing to give half of it away so the other half can be a little colder and diluted?!? You must not be from around here!” And after thinking about it, I realized that it is very true. Ice is not a solution to warm soda. The pros are grossly outweighed by the cons.


FredAugust 5th, 2006 at 17:50

As a matter of fact, if you get a lukewarm soda, you should ask if they are insane to give you warm soda, just to find out they don’t speak a word in German (or English, for that matter) and eventually just give up and take it the way they made it in the first place. 😉

I am wondering if there’s a list out there of places where you get free refills on your soda in Germany. It can’t be long. Maybe two or four.

KarenAugust 6th, 2006 at 00:04

OH my where do I begin? You start by saying you grew up in a country where things are thought about with logic in mind. Ok, so me, as an American, I’m a little offended. I think logically. Next, about the ice in the beer or milk thing, water dilluting those drinks is a bit wierd, they are different from soda pop. I think ice is good if you want ice water… are you ok with ice in that aspect? I don’t know… I’m totally for the ice in soda. It doesn’t dillute it that fast. And in America, you have the choice to ask for no ice. :) You’re crazy, but that’s what makes you interesting. Don’t ever change. :)

jabbaAugust 6th, 2006 at 15:41

I didn’t mean to offend. Americans are logical, also, but I just don’t see the logic in ice. I think soda should just be served cold from the beginning. Ice water is fine. :)

Jean PierreAugust 7th, 2006 at 03:39

I have spent much time on the road during the last two years and tried nearly every “fast-food temple” (Burger King or McDonalds) I found near the highway.

Only one(!) Burger King between Berlin and Stuttgart (and I tried different routes and maaaany restaurants!) offered free refill beverages — instead of the Burger King restaurants near US training areas such as Grafenwöhr or Kaiserslautern that are mostly visited by US soldiers. There in fact you will get free refills, you may also pay with US dollars and order in english 😉

I prefer “only a little bit” of ice in my coke — about two or three (small) ice cubes. Unfortunately you will get *a lot* of ice if you don’t say anything while you order — seems that the Germans have “learned” very fast from the Americans.

MuddaAugust 7th, 2006 at 07:26

Karen has a great point, Americans love to have a choice. It gives us a sense of choosing our own destiny. It is easier to say “no ice” here than to get a cold Pepsi with ice in a gasthaus in Germany. Believe me I used to dream about it as I was sipping my luke warm Coke in Oberbayern. I think the same number of restaurants there serve Pepsi as give refills. The beverage to have in Germany is beer and they serve it just right. Prost!

jabbaAugust 7th, 2006 at 07:33

True, true… But we all know that I would rather have a 3-day old hot flat Coke before I drink a perfectly chilled Pepsi any day of the week… :)  And if you remember correctly, the only place you get luke warm soda in Germany is at McDonald’s.  Gasthäuse always serve cold soda without ice…

TrabbaAugust 7th, 2006 at 08:23

I agree with the ol’ Jabba on this one 100% not just about the ice issue, but also that things outside of the US are much more thought out before implemented. Prague is kind of in-between. You can get free refills at a number of places but ice is generally only included if you ask for it (i guess like most things in my opinion, it’s the best of both worlds). But i just assume that since the States has had soda shops since around the same time as consumer refrigerators, ice came to be used in soda shops before refrigerators where, hence ice in sodas is an obsolete thing from the 50’s and we just need to move on like the rest of world has.

TrabbaAugust 14th, 2006 at 12:02

see this for another example

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