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NEW YORK -- 7-Eleven and Sonic are introducing energy-laden versions of their icy icons. Both are mixing them with Full Throttle Fury, Coca-Cola's citrus energy drink.
At 7-Eleven, the energy Slurpee came directly from consumer requests, Jay Wilkins, category manager for Slurpee, told USA Today. The target is males ages 18 to 34, he said, noting that the move comes at a time when Slurpee sales have been flat.
"We've taken Slurpee and put an edge on it," Wilkins said.
Sonic also said it's simply responding to consumer requests. "We're trying to give choices," Todd Townsend, marketing chief, told the newspaper. Sonic will be the first fast-food chain to sell energy slushes, he said. The slush was a hit when recently test-marketed in El Paso, Texas, although Townsend declined to say just how well it sold.
While 7-Eleven's energy Slurpees will sell for the same price as regular Slurpees, the energy slushes at Sonic will cost about 40 cents more than its other slushes.
This trend isn't limited to fast food, either. As USA Today reported, T.G.I. Friday's began selling a Red Bull Berry Blast Slush in January, and its nonalcoholic beverage sales have surged more than 4 percent. Friday's president Mike Archer said 25 percent of that boost in sales is coming directly from the Red Bull Slush. Friday's sells its energy slushes for $1 more than its other nonalcoholic slushes.
"Energy drinks are the new coffee," Archer said. U.S. sales of energy drinks jumped to $4.9 billion in 2006 from $3.4 billion in 2005, according to Beverage Digest.
There's gobs of money to be made in energy drinks because they sell at such a high premium, said John Sicher, publisher of Beverage Digest. At convenience stores, they sell for four times more per ounce than soft drinks, he noted.
So, are vitamin-infused Slurpees next?
7-Eleven's Wilkins said that's not on the horizon, but he added, "If we get lots of requests for calcium-added Slurpees, we'll make them."