The Weird & Wonderful Tastes of 7/11

by Matt Gonzalez 0

These New 7-Eleven Items are Terrible

Anyone who’s ever visited Thailand knows how essential 7-Elevens are to survival. The nationwide convenience store provides microwaved dinners, ice cold beers, and safe bill payments. We forgive them for their over use of plastic because they break our 1,000 baht bills. We don’t mind their strict adherence to alcohol regulations because they give us discounts on toasties. Despite the fact that some of our favorite items disappear from time to time, we assume that 7-Eleven will continue to work in benevolent ways to keep us as reasonably satisfied as anyone could be from a convenience store.

Sometimes 7-Eleven fails. Sometimes they go beyond inconvenient mistakes and provide products that terrorize the customers they should be spoiling. Recently, 7-Eleven employees have been doing their best to upsell new products. I took it upon myself to undertake a gauntlet of gastrointestinal fortitude. I would buy five of the newest products in my local 7-Eleven, consume them in their entirety, and record the results.

Here’s what happened.

Coke Plus Coffee

The first item I picked up was not the newest thing in the store, but it is certainly new for Coca Cola. I’m a big fan of coffee, and yet I’ve never wanted it carbonated.

This sugary soda smelled exactly like what you’d expect, like you’d poured your Coke into an old coffee mug that you hadn’t washed yet. The taste wasn’t bad, more like a coffee candy than anything. Little did I know that the theme of candy would persist through the rest of these products; flavors growing in intensity and my enjoyment plummeting with disgust.

Salted Egg Lays

The next product was a calm before the storm. You may not have even noticed this curious flavor of Lays potato chips due to the uninspired packaging. Still, the visual of an undercooked, runny egg seems out of place on a bag of crispy chips. I took a chance with these and was not as disgusted as I thought I should have been.

First I must say, I don’t think I’ve ever had an actual ‘salted egg’ before, so maybe I’m missing something. The smell was unremarkable, and the taste was barely different than the Thai barbeque flavor. There was a light saltiness, a hint of barbeque, and a lot of grease. I finished this bag with a bit of help from my girlfriend, who seems to like these more than she would be willing to admit.

I was feeling alright. Maybe I shouldn’t be so skeptical of new flavors?

Cooling Icy Lemon Lays

If you’re anything like me, you’ve already seen these and chuckled in disgust. Mentholated potato chips? In my 7-Eleven? Am I any better than a slaughterhouse pig who’s expected to inhale any slop placed in front of me? Is this some kind of sick, psychological experiment conjured up by an insidious marketing executive? Any other time I would avoid snacks like this, hoping that my abstinence would be a form of voting with my money so that such affronts to God would never be allowed to exist again.

Yet here I was, tearing open a bag of ‘cooling’ potato chips and preparing to eat them all. The smell was intense, the artificial minty aroma wafted into my sinuses and I felt like I was back at Soi Cowboy inhaling the secondhand smoke of a working girl’s ‘cold cigarettes’. The worst cigarettes.

I grimaced and took my first bite. The light, lemony taste was so subtle that I was almost let down. It was as if I had a bag of chips that skipped a step in production. The more chips I ate, the more the cooling mint and light citrus taste clung to my mouth. Halfway through the bag I felt as though I had just brushed my teeth. My breath did not get any better, though. The unusually refreshing flavor profile did not contrast well with the oily, crispy chip that it was attached to. I could not for the life of me figure out how these chips could be enjoyed. In what context? Paired with what entrée? Surely this is a joke.

Cooling Melon Bingsu Lays

I need to make something clear; melon is, without a doubt, the worst fruit. This bright green abomination taints all of the good fruits it touches in a fruit salad. The fruit itself has a terrifying skin that resembles scaly, immuno-compromised alien genitalia. This fact hurts this product in two ways. First, associating anything with such a disgusting fruit is a terrible idea. Second, even the best fruit flavors become trash when made artificial. So what do you expect from something like artificially flavored, melon bingsu Lays?

It’s worse than you can imagine. The same stale, minty aroma from the icy lemon Lays is now mixed with something even worse, a sickeningly sweet candy scent that could easily be a car air freshener. I start to feel a weight in my stomach as I dig in. Each bite is torture as the melon candy powder dissolves into my tongue. I squint and groan, powering down mouthfuls of this trash like I’m a cat munching on stale kibble.

Did I mention that my 7 only had large bags of these? I had to eat an extra portion size now just because, for whatever reason, my local 7’s logistics team figured that people would be wanting to buy these chips in bulk.

I got about halfway through the bag before I needed help. I had to get some of this taste out of my mouth. Fortunately, I had another one of 7-Eleven’s new products waiting for me in my fridge.

Pepsi Black Raspberry

I’m not a big fan of soda, but if I ever crave a sugary drink I always turn to a sugar free Pepsi. I acknowledge that sugar free sodas are very different from their sugar filled counterparts, but I don’t mind the slight aftertaste. This new Pepsi product had every opportunity to be good. And yet…

This is worst soda I’ve ever tasted. The bitter sugar free aftertaste and the sharp raspberry bite combined into a terribly acidic taste that can only be described as Satan’s syphilitic piss. The tart, chemical syrup clashed violently with the creamy melon taste in my mouth. I was dying. I felt the caffeine of the Coke Plus Coffee pump through my extremities as I alternated sips of fruity pesticide juice and bites of air freshener chips.

For the first time in my life, I was upset at how many chips I got in my bag of Lays. The bag seemed to refill as if I was taking on some Sysyphean punishment. Still, I persevered and eventually the bag of chips was empty and the can of Pepsi was sucked dry.

        I started to sweat. The crumpled bags of chips I saw before me seemed to taunt me. They accused me of being one of the mindless, gawking consumers that I resented. Maybe I was part of the problem, one of the millions of other ironically curious patrons that facilitated the creation of these vile food products.

        I felt sodium seep into my bloodstream. I felt sedated by the carbs I had consumed, but also wired from the sugar and caffeine now powering my brain. I wanted to undo what I had just done, as if there was a detoxifying serum that someone could stab into my heart like the overdose scene in Pulp Fiction.

Sweet Potato Filled Pie

The second to last item on this night’s menu was a treat compared to what I had already eaten. Sweet potato pies are a fall essential in America, though they’re typically baked with lots of marshmallows and sugar.

        7-Eleven pies are great because of their dry, chewy crust and the contrasting sweet, textured gel filling. This sweet potato version challenges the tradition by pairing the crust with a carb heavy, Play Doh like filling. Eating this pie is a challenge. Your mouth will dry up and your throat will close as you fight to swallow the chalky ball of starch digesting in your mouth.

        The pie is mostly flavorless in comparison to the products I have described. There is a natural flavor of sweet potato that is muted by the cardboard-like crust. Maybe I’ve been desensitized to natural flavors. Maybe the Eastern world is catching on to the sharp and loud flavors of the West. Maybe once subtly sweet treats will soon be bastardized into wacky fusions that require more chemical engineering than culinary experimentation.

Mango Filled Pie

So, I’ve had one of these before. I loved it. Unlike melons, mangos deserve to be appreciated in all forms. The mango jelly filling completes the packaged pie equation. All is right in the world.

Except now, I am hyper aware of the artificial smell. The pie is a 3D air freshener. It radiates a fluorescent aroma that triggers painful memories of confectionary abuse. My field of vision narrows, and each bite of the pie brings me closer to a food blackout.

I’m ashamed.

7-Eleven should be ashamed.