Zoku Slush and Shake Maker review:
DIY Slushies in a Cup—If You Have the Patience
- Price:$19.95 - $19.99
The look is bold, bright, and colorful, and we love the concept.
Too much work over too much time, for results that can be disappointing. The price is steep, especially since—unless you live solo—you’ll probably need to buy at least two to produce enough volume for even two people.
We think of this as a seasonal novelty product, something we’d play with a few times before getting bored. Too much time and effort are involved to make the Slush and Shake Maker fun or practical. And we suspect kids simply wouldn’t have the patience to deal.
It’s a cool concept: A single-serve slushie maker that works like an ice cream machine, on the principle of a freezable inner core. New Jersey–based Zoku is a design collective that launched its first product—the Quick Pop Maker—around the notion of the freezable core. Mod, playful product design in vivid Popsicle colors is Zoku’s thing, and the Slush and Shake Maker, available in five hues Zoku calls “juicy,” is no exception. It’s available as a Williams-Sonoma exclusive, and also from Zoku's online store.
The Slush and Shake Maker is designed to work like an ice cream maker. You pop the core-cup in the freezer for several hours (Zoku recommends 8 to 18 hours), then add whatever mix you choose to freeze. Instead of a motor-driven paddle, of course, you have to break up the ice crystals yourself as they form, using the long, thin scraper-spoon. What you end up with is something either completely frozen or semislushy—milk shake–style—depending on the mix you add, how long you’ve frozen the inner core, and how much time and effort you devote to freezing and scraping.
There are three parts to the Slush and Shake Maker: a cup with a freezable inner core containing refrigerant liquid, a protective plastic sleeve (with base), and a plastic scraper-spoon. The cup holds 8 ounces (1 cup) of liquid, and measures 6 3/4 inches high (4 inches in diameter). All materials are free of BPA and phthalates, and they’re hand-wash only—you can’t toss them in the dishwasher, nor should you scour them with anything harsh.
We tested with three recipes: a juice-based pineapple-orange-banana slush from Zoku’s blog, a Vietnamese-style coffee shake, and an adult beverage, an adaptation of a frozen rum Coco Loco. We also varied the amount of time the inner core spent in the freezer, from 6 hours (2 hours less than the minimum time Zoku stipulates, just to see what would happen if we tried to rush it) to overnight.
Pineapple-orange-banana slush: Zoku’s recipe calls for tossing 1 cup each of orange and pineapple juice in the blender with a peeled banana and puréeing, before pouring the mixture into the Slush and Shake Maker. The core was in the freezer overnight, and we set a timer to go off every 60 seconds so we could stir and scrape. After 2 minutes, we noticed a few icy clusters forming; after 6 minutes of waiting, stirring, and scraping, the icy bits were turning into larger blobs, forming mostly at the bottom of the cup. After 9 minutes, it was slushy enough to look like baby-food purée. After 12, it was like slushy sorbet. Finally, after 15 minutes (and 15 stir-and-scrape sessions) we felt like we’d achieved the proper texture: a loose, icy granité. It was kind of cool, but also kind of a pain to devote so much time, so much clock-watching, and so much effort to produce our granité—especially since we had to dirty a blender jar to even make the mix.
Vietnamese-style coffee shake: We wanted to see how something relatively sugary would fare, so we combined 3/4 cup strong brewed coffee with 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk. We poured it into a Zoku core we’d frozen for only 6 hours (we wanted to try to establish a minimum). We also set our timer for every 2 minutes, since stirring and scraping every minute was a bit of a pain. The result: After 16 minutes and 8 stir-and-scrape sessions, we’d achieved a loose milk-shake texture. After 20 minutes and a total of 10 stirs, we were still at the milk-shake stage—clearly, 6 hours in the freezer wasn’t long enough to freeze a slushie.
Frozen rum Coco Loco: Zoku’s instructions place a few limits around making alcoholic drinks in the Slush and Shake Maker. First, you can only add a maximum of 1.25 ounces to any drink (the freezing point for alcohol is higher than that for water). And Zoku recommends stirring it in after the mixture has already frozen, with the caveat that the slushie might turn to liquid again, but to freeze and stir a bit longer. With those warnings in mind, we mixed up a batch of boozeless Coco Loco (water, coconut milk, lime juice), poured it into a core we’d frozen overnight, and kept 1 ounce of dark rum in reserve. After 20 minutes and 10 stir-and-scrape sessions, we got the slushy mixture you see above in the right-hand photo. But after we stirred in the rum, it completely melted. We let the mixture sit in the cup another 5 minutes, but it refused to refreeze. What we ended up with was a very cold liquid Coco Loco, not the frozen drink we were hoping for.
Photos by Chris Rochelle