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    Slurpees Become Slimmer

    7-Eleven to debut low-calorie versions of the drink nationwide this week.

    DALLAS -- 7-Eleven Inc. will nationally roll out its low-calorie Slurpeethis week.

    The convenience store chain has been testing the idea regionally, with its Lite Fanta Sugar-Free Mango Slurpee available for sale at many locations. That flavor will become a national staple, as well other lower-calorie flavors.

    According to USA Today, the mango flavor provides 20 calories per 8-ounce serving, compared to 66 calories in 7-Eleven's Fanta Wild Cherry Slurpee drink, the c-store chain's best-selling conventional Slurpee.

    "We talked to a group who said they would drink Slurpees more often if we take out the sugar and reduce the calories," Laura Gordon, 7-Eleven's vice president of brand innovation, told the newspaper.

    To encourage consumers to try new low-calorie Slurpees, 7-Eleven will offer free 7.11-ounce Slurpees on "SlurpFree Day," scheduled for May 23.

    In addition to the low-calorie Slurpee flavors available as of this week, 7-Eleven will release two more sugar-free flavors this summer, strawberry banana and cherry limeade, the news outlet reported.

    Whether the low-calorie Slurpees can draw more health-conscious customers into 7-Eleven stores remains to be seen. Neal Barnard, adjunct associate professor of medicine at George Washington University, told USA Today that low-calorie Slurpees have no nutritional value, are simply "a different kind of junk food" and 7-Eleven is simply "trying to sell you the same stuff in a different package."

    In addition, there's the taste factor, long a bugaboo for manufacturers when producing light beverages. However, 7-Eleven claims that low-calorie Slurpess taste great.

    According to Mintel, 80 percent of consumers say they're interested in low-calorie, low-fat or low-sugar foods. But 43 percent said the biggest challenge to dieting is the taste of diet foods, the news outlet reported.

    "You have to wonder what would happen to the obesity epidemic if light products tasted better, Lynn Dornblaser, Mintel's new products guru, told the news source.

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