Best Fast Food Ice Cubes: Top 5 Nuggets According To Experts

If you love chewing on the ice in fast food drinks, you’re not alone. Many people chomp on ice to relieve stress, stop smoking, or even lose weight. Chewable ice is so popular manufacturers now make portable “nugget” machines so people can get their fix at home. Some ice lovers are so obsessed they’ll hit the drive-thru to get a cup of ice. Social media platforms have also seen an uptick in users showcasing their love for different types of ice, often using hashtags like #IceLovers or #NuggetIce. Which chains offer the best fast food ice cubes as determined by ice connoisseurs?

While the allure of biting into that cold crunch is undeniably pleasurable, it’s essential to approach this habit with a bit of caution. Biting on ice, even the finely crushed kind, poses risks to our dental health. It can introduce tiny cracks in the tooth’s enamel, leading to more serious issues, such as a tooth fracture. Additionally, if you have an insatiable craving for ice, it might be more than a preference. It’s advisable to consult with a physician, as an intense desire for ice can sometimes indicate iron deficiency anemia.

Fast food chains often use different ice cube shapes to enhance the overall dining experience. Smaller, nugget-shaped ice cubes are favored for their quick cooling and ability to pack tightly into cups, making them great for ice-cold beverages. Larger, cube-shaped ice is preferred when you want your drink to stay cooler for longer, but it can be more challenging to chew and may dilute the beverage. Ultimately, the choice of ice cube shape can impact the pace at which your drink is chilled and how well it maintains its flavor, with each shape having its own set of advantages and drawbacks.

So, where did my icy exploration lead me in the search for the most top-notch cubes? While skipping a literal drive-thru tour, StudyFinds plunged deep into expert websites, forums, and reviews to curate a list of the best fast-food ice cubes. Dive in and see if your favorite made the cut! If it didn’t, tell us in the comments below.

Ice cubes
Ice cubes (Photo by Scott Rodgerson on Unsplash)

The List: Best Fast Food Ice Cubes, According to Customers

1. SONIC Drive-In

If you live near a Sonic, you probably already agree that “there’s just something about Sonic ice,” according to Insider. “It’s so iconic, that you can actually buy bags of the stuff from the drive-thru or order a cup of ice online…Not only did it last the longest, despite being the smallest, but it was actually edible. The ice is small enough to pop into your mouth and break without issue.”

“Sonic makes the ultimate versatile ice cube,” according to The Daily Meal. “Whether you want to munch on it or put it with a soda, these ice cubes are practically perfect. The brand clearly understands the interest in the delicious nugget pieces (which are especially ideal for chewing on, by the way).”

According to Yummiest Food, “The hype surrounding sonic Ice is simple: it’s fun to chew, it soaks up your drink, and tastes great. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Sonic Ice is the Ice that’ll make your drink taste better and give you the most bang for your buck. Sonic Ice is the healthy medium between hard and mushy, making it a great addition to any drink. You can use it to make your cocktail pop or add a little extra flavor to your coffee. It’s perfect for parties and makes an excellent gift for anyone who loves their drinks cold but not too cold.”

2. Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A also sells bags of its ice because it’s so popular. Restaurant Clicks writes, “the ice is small enough to munch on but big enough not to melt immediately. They are also a great consistency, with less density than standard-size ice cubes.”

“I can never throw my cup away until I’ve finished eating all my ice,” explains Redditor Crc024. “Whenever I stop and order something but don’t get a meal because I have a drink already, I always order a cup of ice to pour my drink in. There isn’t an option on the app, so I order a free cup of water and put in the comments ‘don’t want water, just ice’ and they have got it right every time.”

Robust Kitchen did the research and says, “Chick-fil-A Ice is the exact same thing as Sonic Ice. They’re both just nugget ice (also known as pellet ice or pebble ice).”

3. Zaxby’s

Just like Sonic, Zaxby’s has a cult-like following when it comes to its ice. It’s A Southern Thing boasts, “In the South, Zaxby’s ice is the crown jewel, of all ice in restaurants. This stuff is the real deal.”

The Daily Meal writes, “Most Zaxby’s allow customers to put their desired ice amount into their cups, which adds to the customizable experience. This wins major points with us, as we don’t like overfilled ice (unless it’s strictly for munching purposes).”

“Even the ice at Zaxbys is something to rave about,” says Ice Man. “It perfectly complements their fiery hot wings with a satisfying crunch that will leave you coming back for more. What sets Zaxby’s ice apart from the rest? It’s all in the texture. Each cube is meticulously crafted to deliver that ideal balance of crispness and solidity, making every sip of your drink an absolute delight. Whether you’re enjoying a refreshing soda or cooling down with some sweet tea, Zaxby’s ice adds that extra touch of perfection.”

4. McDonald’s

What makes McDonald’s ice so special? According to Ice Man, “It all starts with the quality of water used in their machines. Filtered through a multi-step process, this water ensures that the resulting ice cubes are free from impurities and have a crystal-clear appearance.”

Restaurant Clicks tested out the cubes, and says they are “more chewable than other cubed ice.” Also, the website says, “They work great in McDonald’s coffee drinks as well as soft drinks!”

“As far as cubed ice on the fast food market goes, you simply can not go wrong with this fast food icon,” according to Mashed.

5. Tie: Taco Bell, Starbucks, & Raising Cane’s

We have a three-way tie among Taco Bell, Starbucks, and Raising Cane’s. While their ice cubes are commendable, they don’t quite match the distinctiveness of those from Chick-fil-A or Sonic.

According to Restaurant Clicks, “Starbucks ice is in a standard cube shape, but I find that their ice melts just right with my iced drink as long as it’s not too hot out, leaving me some ice to crunch on at the end.”

Taco Bell opts for standard cubed ice, though in varying sizes and states of breakability. For those who prefer their drinks cold, it’s simply divine. There are some larger ice cubes to keep the drink cold while the more crushed ones give ice eaters a delicious snack,” says Mashed.

“While Canes was a close contestant for the top spot on the list due to it’s small size consistency, they lost the edge in the consistency battle being slightly harder to crunch,” according to Blueprint.

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

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About the Author

Amy Chodroff

Amy Chodroff is a recovering Morning Radio Show Host and award-winning broadcaster who recently retired from DFW’s Morning News on KLIF in Dallas. Fondly known as the “Chief Googler” by her friends, it was a seamless transition for StudyFinds to enlist her expertise for their “Best of the Best” franchise. Amy has an innate curiosity and a penchant for thorough research before any purchase and she’s constantly on the hunt for top-notch products. Outside of her digital explorations, Amy loves to explore the world with her husband and is the proud mother of two adult daughters. You can also find Amy on the pickleball court, perfecting her dink and drop shots.

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