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7-Eleven adds low-calorie Slurpee nationwide

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 15th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The "brain-freezing" drink, known as the Slurpee, best known for its bright colors, wild tastes, and of course its unique name, wants to also be known for another feature: less calories.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - 7-Eleven, the nation's largest convenience chain, will announce, later this week, a low-calorie line of Slurpees. This is the first national, low-calorie line of the 45-year-old drink. What else? It's made with Splenda.

The move arrived perfectly, as companies have been marketing everything from "Spam Lite" to "skinny cocktails" which are aimed at consumers who are quite conscious about their calorie intake.

"You have to wonder what would happen to the obesity epidemic if light products tasted better," says Lynn Dornblaser, new products guru at research firm Mintel.

Slurpee Lite is targeting females in their 20's with the tagline: "All flavor. No sugar." An 8-oz Slurpee Lite Fanta Sugar-Free Mango has 20 calories versus the 8-oz Fanta Wild Cherry Slurpee drink, the best-selling flavor of Slurpee, which has 66 calories.

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

On "SlurpFree Day," which is May 23, 7-Eleven will be offering free 7.11-ounce Slurpees to get people familiar with the new brand. Lite Mango, as well as other flavors, will be available, however two sugar-free flavors, strawberry banana and cherry limeade, will have to wait until this summer.

Some nutritionists, however, are quite unimpressed.

"Now it's just a different kind of junk food," says Neal Barnard, adjunct associate professor of medicine at George Washington University. "This should not be mistaken as any kind of corporate responsibility. They're just trying to sell you the same stuff in a different package."

80% of U.S. consumers say they are interested in low-calorie, low-fat, or low-sugar foods and drinks. However 43% say the biggest challenge to a diet is the taste of diet foods.

7-Eleven insists it's nailed the perfect low-cal taste. Still, Barnard warns: "Slurpee had zero nutritional value then, and it has zero nutritional value now."

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