Chances are when you think of 7-Eleven you think of Slurpees. In reality, 7-Eleven has been selling coffee longer than Slurpees, being the first to sell freshly brewed coffee in to-go cups in 1964.
And, neither can equal the company’s sale of sodas, equal to over 45 million gallons a year. The company seems fairly proud of this. They’ve even done the calculations in Olympic swimming pool units, coming to a hefty 68.
I’ve heard many people blame movie cinemas for the “giant soda” epidemic, blamed for the nation’s increase in sugar consumption and a never-ending variety of health problems. While it’s true that cinema sodas are embarrassingly large, it was really 7-Eleven, with some help from McDonald’s, who poured all this soda down the nation’s gullet.
7-Eleven introduced their first over-sized soda in 1976, with the 32-ounce Big Gulp. That is if you consider 32-Ounce to be the threshold of over-sized. There was a time when a 16-ounce soda was something to behold.
Soon after the Big Gulp, 7-Eleven began dispensing the Super Big Gulp at 44 ounces, the X-treme Gulp at 52 ounces, and finally the Double Gulp, a full 64 ounces, or one-half gallon of soda pop.
We can’t just blame 7-Elven for giant tubs of soda, however. The fast food industry, lead my Mcdonald’s, had a hand in it. McDonald’s is, after all, how we got the term supersize in the first place. The timeline of big soda introductions between McDonald’s, Burger King, and 7-Eleven looks like something of a competition.
Burger King, for example, offered large sodas than McDonald’s early on, just as Pepsi was the first to offer double the size of the standard 6-ounce Coca-Cola. The second in line is often the first to bulk up its offerings in order to increase the perceived value. Burger King was selling 12-ounce and 16-ounce drinks when McDonald’s was only selling 7-ounces, in 1955. It was in 1961 that McDonald’s began selling a 16-ounce drink. Eleven years passed before 7-Eleven began selling 12 and 20-ounce sodas, in 1973.
McDonald’s followed up in 1974 with a 21-ounce drink. IN 1976, 7-Eleven went ballistic with the 32-Ounce Big Gulp, which at that time was the largest dispensed soda on the market. Then came the 44-ounce Super Big Gulp in 1983.
McDonald’s waited until 1988 to introduce its own 32 ouncer, the Super-Size drink. 7-Eleven delivered a sugary knockout punch with the Double Gulp at 64-ounces.
Wendy’s got into the ‘Biggie Drink’ game with its Super Value Meal in 1989.
The McDonald’s Super-Size drink became 42-ounces in 1999 and the 32-ounce Super-Size was demoted to ju7st Large. Burger King introduced its own 42-ounce drink in 2001.
7-Eleven, in 2003, decided that there was no room for a 16-ounce drink, and replaced it with a 20-ouncer. They reduced the Double Gulp to 50 ounces in 2012, not out of concern for our waistlines, but because customers wanted the cups to fit in their car cup-holders.