Doc's refrigerator 01

Doc and Marty using the refrigerator, which takes up an entire wall of the livery stable.

Iced Tea

Doc offers Marty some iced tea.

"Doc walked over to a large machine, and switched on what appeared to be a steam-powered motor. Wheels spun, gears turned, and a long conveyor belt jerked forward as smoke spurted from the top. What was Doc doing? Well, whatever it was, Marty was still going to make his point [about meeting the right girl]."
—From Back to the Future Part III by Craig Shaw Gardner (quote, page 84)
" The machine began to clang violently. What was Doc doing? / "Marty, quick!" Doc barked, pointing at the lower left corner of the wildly vibrating device. "Turn that valve all the way to the left!" / Marty did as he was told. The machine coughed, and a single ice cube dropped onto the table below. Doc dropped the cube into a glass and filled it with brown liquid from a kettle. / "Iced tea?" he offered Marty. / Marty shook his head. "No thanks." "
—From Back to the Future Part III by Craig Shaw Gardner (quote, page 85)
Doc: "Iced tea?"
Marty: "No, thanks. (pause, as he realizes what Doc's steam-powered invention is) It's a refrigerator!"
— Doc and Marty in the livery stable

A refrigerator was built by Dr. Emmett Brown in 1885 as a way to make ice for his own drinks.


Even though Doc had happily accepted his new life as a blacksmith in the Old West, this was one of the 20th century amenities he couldn't live without.

The large, noisy, steam-powered machine took up an entire wall of Doc's livery stable. While Marty McFly was in discussion with him, the machine's steam whistle blew and Marty was instructed to turn a valve. Out of a spout on the machine came a single brownish ice cube, which Doc then dropped into his beaker of tea.

The machine apparently could not make enough ice to share with others, as earlier that day the three old timers at the Palace Saloon next door had laughed at Marty's request to Chester for ice water.

Behind the scenes[]

  • Although Marty identifies Doc's machine as a refrigerator on-screen, he does not do so in the novelization (see second Quote above) — i.e. Marty's exclamation "It's a refrigerator!" is omitted, with Doc turning his attention back to the piece of paper given to him by Mayor Hubert about the arrival of the new schoolteacher Clara Clayton.
  • In early drafts of Back to the Future, time travel was achieved in part by Marty getting inside Doc's 1950s refrigerator to safely ride out an atomic blast which powered the time machine. The idea was abandoned in favor of making the machine a mobile device that travels with the time-traveler under its own power, as well as to avoid children imitating this by dangerously closing themselves in real refrigerators. Steven Spielberg later used the idea of riding out an atomic blast inside a refrigerator in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.[1]