The nation´s largest convenience chain, 7-Eleven, has announced a new low-calorie line of Slurpees for this summer in hopes of freezing your brain while keeping extra calories out of your system, called Slurpee Lite.
Bruce Horovitz for USA Today reports that Slurpee Lite will target females in their 20s with this tagline: “All flavor. No sugar.” The chain has sold saccharin-based Slurpees regionally, but the 45-year-old treat is now rolling out with Splenda as a sweetener, following a nationwide trend of treats and foods hinting at a slimmer profile.
Companies have been marketing everything from “Spam Lite” to “skinny cocktails” aimed at calorie-conscious consumers. “You have to wonder what would happen to the obesity epidemic if light products tasted better,” Lynn Dornblaser, new products guru at research firm Mintel, tells Horovitz.
7-Eleven´s 8-ounce Slurpee Lite Fanta Sugar-Free Mango has 20 calories, which is much less than the 66 calories in an 8-ounce Fanta Wild Cherry Slurpee drink, the 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,” says Laura Gordon, vice president of brand innovation. To get folks familiar with the line, 7-Eleven will offer free 7.11-ounce Slurpees on “SlurpFree Day” May 23.
Lite Mango (and other flavors) will be available, but not two sugar-free flavors due this summer: strawberry banana and cherry limeade.
“Now it´s just a different kind of junk food,” says Neal Barnard, nutritionist and 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.”
One overriding problem with most light foods and drinks is the perception that they taste awful. Still, 80 percent of US consumers say they´re interested in low-calorie, low-fat or low-sugar foods. Forty-three percent however, say the biggest challenge to dieting is the taste of diet foods, reports Mintel.
7-Eleven insists it´s nailed low-cal taste. But Barnard warns, “Slurpee had zero nutritional value then, and it has zero nutritional value now.”
“7-Eleven carries lots of fresh foods, beverages and snack items for people looking for better-for-you options,” said Patsy Ross, 7-Eleven´s registered dietitian.
“Our stores have something for everyone whether they´re counting calories, fat or sugar grams. Slurpee Lite offers a beverage alternative to consumers concerned about sugar intake and calorie consumption, whether for dieting reasons or a medical necessity, such as diabetes,” Ross said.