So like I said in the previous post I just got back from a vacation to Florida to visit my parents and sister. One of the things that I love about going back down to Florida (where I spent most of my childhood) is the convenience stores, in particular 7-Eleven’s. As anyone who has read this blog knows, I love, love, love me some Slurpees. I could probably drink two a day for the rest of my life and never get tired of them. It was the first frozen drink I was introduced to and for the most part still my favorite today.
A few months ago I started posting my frozen drink reviews in a column I called stupidly enough, Frozen Drinks 101. I wasn’t sure that there was enough material for it to last that long, but I managed to stretch it out to 10 entries, and I’ve been waiting for this last trip down to Florida to get what I needed for the final installment of the 101 series. So here at long last is my review of the 7-Eleven Slurpee.
I’d like to recap a second on the history of the drink. Here’s what I wrote in my last review of the Icee frozen drink:
“As the story goes, Omar Knedlik who owned and ran a Dairy Queen in Coffeyville, Kansas in the 1950s, invented the frozen soda drink. Depending on the telling of the story, he either didn’t have a soda fountain machine yet or it was broken and he needed to supply his thirsty customers with cold soda so he took to sticking bottles of soda in his freezer. One day he left them in a bit too long and the bottles half froze, but being the soda-serving lovable guy he was, he gave them to customers anyways. Well everyone apparently flipped for the half frozen sodas, which consequently have almost the exact same consistency as today’s Icees and Slurpees. Since the customers were so taken with the novelty sodas, he decided to devise a machine that would dispense half frozen soda.
Once again the story gets cloudy, but Omar either couldn’t come up with a design himself or his design wasn’t adequate so he contacted the John E. Mitchell Company, a Dallas machinery manufacturer, in 1959 to help him realize his dream of a frozen soda fountain machine. According to the Slurpee website, Mitchell was very taken with the idea and his big advancement for the machine design was to being working with automobile air conditioners to freeze the syrup and water mix. Together Mitchell and Knedlik began building the frozen fountain drink machines and then sold them to other Dairy Queens and convenience stores under the branding of the Icee.
Depending on the brand history you read (Icee or Slurpee) the machines were either very successful (Icee’s version of events) or a failure (Slurpee’s version of history.) Either way a 7-11 storeowner ended up in Omar Knedlik’s Dairy Queen and ended up buying three machines for the 7-11 Corp. So 7-11, after tweaking the design of the machine, introduced Slurpees to the public.�?
So Slurpees are basically the bastard half brother of the Icee (and in turn the Artic Blast), but I always preferred the tweaked 7-Eleven formula. Well I made sure to hit every 7-11 in a 20-mile radius on my twice-daily trip for some Slurpee goodness. Usually when I go down to Florida there only seems to be one or two flavors working at any one store (even though the machines are typically set up for six), and even then they are usually the same two from store to store. In the past I’ve been limited to Coke and Mountain Dew mostly, but this year I hit the mother load with 10 different flavors to choose from. First off I’ll share some pictures of the various stores I hit. I tried to take pictures of every one, so here’s the more memorable ones (yeah, I’m a picture dork, but it’s like dork-OCD, I can’t help it when I do it):
The first night there we hit this one just around the corner from my parent’s apartment. This is probably the grungiest 7-11 in the area, just really dirty and everything by the Slurpee machine was sticky, almost like someone put their finger on the Slurpee spout like a hose and sprayed everything. The Slurpee machines weren’t quite right either. When you pulled the lever to fill the cup, Slurpee would shoot out at super sonic speeds, so fast that it half filled the cup before you knew it and it didn’t start freezing until then so it expanded just as fast as it shot out to begin with making your cup into a Slurpee volcano. It would have been more fun to watch (or play around with ala the Mentos and diet soda trick) if the clerk wasn’t watching with his disapproving eyes.
This one was down the street from my parents place, and much easier to get to, but alas the Slurpee machine was out of order, so we had to hit the interstate and find another location. The clerk lady was pretty cool though. She had these three discontinued bottles of soda in a little cooler by the register and when I went to buy one she started haggling with me to buy the rest, 3 for $0.75. The soda sucked nuts, but it was still a good deal…
The above is my one of my favorite locations of the entire trip. Not only was it the cleanest 7-11 I’ve ever been in, they also had my favorite flavor of all time, banana. Needless to say we hit this a few times.
This above location was probably the best of the trip because it’s the 7-11 that I used to hang out at as a kid. It’s at the opening to our old subdivision in Castleberry and it’s pretty much exactly a mile from my old house. I used to ride my bike up to this store all the time and buy comics and Slurpees while stealing free games off of the Play Choice 10 machine they had stowed away in a converted broom closet (which is now ironically back to being a broom closet.)
All in all this wasn’t actually the best trip, Slurpee-wise, we’ve ever had. It seemed like only half of the Slurpees we got were any good, and when they were bad they were really bad, but the good was super awesome, so in the end it all kind of canceled itself out as far as a drink review goes. The 10 available flavors were Mountain Dew, Coke, Mountain Dew Live Wire, Mountain Dew Kryptonite Ice, Tropicana Twister Blue Raspberry, Banana, Cherry, Hawaiian Punch, some gross looking Crystal Lite tea, and a special Nintendo Wii branded Strawberry Banana. I tried most of these, excluding the Crystal Lite, and liked them all, which is pretty rare. I think that typically the non-soda flavors like Cherry and Banana usually taste a bit too much like cough syrup to me, but all of the Slurpee flavors were branded somehow or another and I think that the syrups were just a little better in the quality department. Both the Banana and Cherry were Fanta (Coke) branded and I’ll tell you, I would love to see regular soda versions of both of these. As gross as banana soda sounds, it tasted pretty damn good. The Nintendo Wii Strawberry Banana was also pretty darn good going with a more natural banana flavor as opposed to the more fake flavor of the regular one (which I like anyway.)
I had a few Slurpee Volcanoes erupt on me and Carrie had one Coke come out as almost pure frozen syrup (not unlike the all syrup Squishee on the Simpson’s) which is not as good as it sounds.
Here are some pictures of the various machines and flavors:
Is there anything sadder than an out of order Slurpee machine? Well, yeah, but it still bummed me out…
One damn fine banana Slurpee was had here…
The other thing that I love about Slurpee’s is that there is usually some sort of promotion going on like limited time flavors or special cups. One that’s been going on and off for awhile are the Splitzo cups that have a wall down the center so you can sample two separate flavors.
They were also trying to pawn off these “At Home Versions�? that are really only crushed ice machines, but I guess that’s cool in it’s own right like that old Snoopy Sno-Cone makers.
At the end of the day, when the machines are working correctly, there really is nothing quite like a Slurpee. The flavor syrups are great, the flavor choices are great, and the gimmicks are fun most of the time. I hope someday that they start franchising in Georgia so that I wouldn’t have to make a 16 hour round trip to get one.
Anyway, this ends my frozen drink reviews for now, at least until another contender throws their hat in the ring or I think of something more enlightening to say about them. Here are the previous columns: