I had never been inside of a 7-Eleven before my freshman year living in Shippee. Was I missing out? Well, it’s complicated.
7-Eleven fits the nichest of niche markets. It is the basic functional fulfillment of everything a college-age stomach could cry out for after all the traditional dining halls, restaurants and grocery stores are closed. At its peak hours of operation, 7-Eleven’s only competition is vending machines.
They’ve got the basic big names of prepackaged candy, cookies, beverages, chips and ice cream. But they also go the extra couple of yards to provide their own original food creations. It’s an adorable effort really, with fascinating conclusions.
I made an effort to try everything on 7-Eleven’s menu. I did for you, UConn, and I’m going to consider that the greatest example of school spirit in my entire life:
The only thing the Tyson-brand Buffalo wings are guilty of is trying too hard to please your most basic mammalian desires. The breading is thick like a layer of armor (or maybe lizard skin), but you have to forgive it because it’s packed with sodium earnesty.
And you get variety within every individual wing. The uneven cooking (some patches lukewarm, some charcoal) gives it the appearance of modern art or a geology project.
The meat itself is sweet and savory, and you’re extra aware of its chewy goodness after you’ve been crunching on that breading for an uncomfortable number of seconds.
The Sprinkilicious Donut is another 7-Eleven original. It’s not as light a pastry as you’d get at Dunkin’ Donuts, nor is it as heavy and saddening as UConn dining halls’.
It’s not bad if you eat it in fast, large bites and don’t think about it. Too much rumination and you’ll realize that the dough is utterly flavorless, and so the bright pink frosting overcompensates by being sickeningly sweet. Put them together, and they still don’t work, but to a lesser travesty than eating them separately.
The “Big Bite” hot dog is best avoided. Think of a Slim Jim that’s been inflated and unevenly cooked to room temperature. At my best (by which I mean I my worst), I could not finish a Big Bite.
The Slurpee is 7-Eleven’s greatest culinary achievement. Others have done the fizzy, cold drink treat composed of sugar crystals and empty calories; maybe they’ve even done it better. But the Slurpee is the bare bones fulfillment of the need for a pastel-colored cold one. It’s carbonated, cool and classic. I recommend the blue raspberry.
The buffalo Taquito de Pollo is something like a perfectly tubular Hot Pocket. It’s a bunch of tubes really. The bread is simple and inoffensive, wrapped around the meat product playing the role of chicken that is wrapped around a packet of some kind of spicy sauce. Honestly, it’s quite adequate.
The Mocha Latte Coffee Chiller is another concoction you probably should not subject your digestive system to. It’s sickeningly sweet. Like Hershey syrup mixed with coffee creamer. I’m still not sure if it might have just been intended to be something you doctor your normal coffee with, rather than an independent beverage.
The pizza is more interesting than it is edible. I’d put it about three grades behind Ellio’s. The bread is okay, which is important because it’s like 90 percent bread with some Lunchables-grade cheese on top. The sauce tastes like something that was recently squeezed out of a plastic bag.
The nachos are surprisingly unbad. They’re reminiscent of movie theater nachos but for a third of the price. They’re a superb way to indulge your inner ten-year-old who used to blow weeks of allowance on this same spicy cheese sauce and corn chip combo. The dark yellow chips are at least as good as Tostitos.
The worst part is watching the machine sputter out the chili sauce. It’s unsettling.
7-Eleven’s food is exotic in its own way. It’s fascinating to think that this culinary movement exists, and you’re going to be extremely grateful for it a couple of late nights if you live on a college campus. But if you ever find yourself eating it before 2 a.m., you’ve probably done something wrong.
It’s easy to kick and complain about 7-Eleven’s food, but realistically speaking, no one should be surprised that their body rebels against the Big Bite. If you’re venturing to take a meal at a convenience store, you have no one else to blame. So enjoy it for what it is. Then tell no one.
Or you can make the safe decision, grab an almond Snickers and call it a night.
Christopher McDermott is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.