Hot spot for cold treat
Metro Detroiters are biggest U.S. fans of 7-Eleven Slurpees
It’s Slurpee season. And Detroit is king. More than a million of the frozen treats are sold per month — twice as many as the average national 7-Eleven store — in 150 metro Detroit locations. Of the 6,190 stores that sell Slurpees in the nation, Detroit’s southwest suburbs reign at No. 1 while the northwest ’burbs follow at second.
Jim Baronowski, 7-Eleven’s upper Midwest merchandise manager, attributes the thirsty reputation to a cultural trend.
“Slurpees started here about 35 years ago in the early ’70s. For grandparents and parents, this was their treat. And now they’re passing it along to their children,” Baronowski said. “If you observe the behavior in a store, whole groups of kids and whole families come in to buy Slurpees.”
7-Eleven is cultivating that trend with 34,400 stores internationally from Singapore to Scandinavia. In 2006, the company opened the northernmost store in the world in Trosmø, Norway.
Baronowski says variety is central to Slurpee loyalty. Classic flavors such as Coca-Cola Classic and Cherry Coke are the most popular. But contemporary and seasonal flavors are available, in addition to the option of individual combinations. Most flavors are certified kosher pareve and halal for customers’ adherence to Jewish and Islamic dietary laws. The four drink sizes in metro Detroit range from 12 ounces at $1.15 to 40 ounces at $1.59, plus tax.
“We are committed to providing a quality experience,” said Baronowski, 53. “It’s a total program. It’s not just about a flavor or a cup; it’s a combination.”
Viktorr Dedvukaj, the owner of a 7-Eleven located on Meadowbrook Road in Novi, said that the convenience of being open 24 hours per day plays a role as well.
“We know our customers, and we’re attentive to their needs,” Dedvukaj said. “And with strong branding compared to the average party store down the street, business is good.”
7-Eleven aims to keep its brand strong. This summer, there has been a slew of promotions, more than ever before. With a target audience of customers 18 to 34 years old, the franchise has partnered with movie and videogame companies.
They’re also hitting the road and handing out free samples of Black Ice, a Slurpee version of the Monster energy drink at the 2008 Vans Warped Tour. Warped Tour is a North American music and extreme sports festival sponsored by skateboarding shoe manufacturer Vans. The event typically draws younger crowds and runs from June 20 to Aug. 17.
Even so, 7-Eleven still attracts customers of all ages. Sue Beck, 58, walked into a local 7-Eleven last Tuesday with two granddaughters visiting from Tennessee.
“There aren’t any 7-Elevens there. So this is the first place they want to go to when they come here.”
Evolution of the 7-Eleven Slurpee
The BrainFreeze was coined by 7-Eleven in 1994. Slurpees are served at 28 degrees.
The scientific name of the BrainFreeze is sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. It occurs when something cold touches the roof of the mouth causing blood vessels to constrict. When vessels warm up, they enlarge and as blood rushes back, nerve pain signals travel to the front of the brain, creating what we know as the Brain-Freeze.
The cure for a BrainFreeze, as suggested by 7-Eleven: Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth.