Here, Eat This: A Beginner's Guide to 7-Eleven© Cuisine
While the return of 7-Eleven© to Houston may have the gourmands among us raising their champagne glasses, the rest of us plain folk are perhaps sheepishly wondering, "Golly, that food looks good. But I wouldn't even know where to begin!" To the hoi polloi of Houston (and, please know, I count myself among you!), there is no shame in your ignorance of 7-Eleven cuisine. With a little bit of know-how and an adventurous spirit, you can expand your palate. Here is a guide to help you successfully navigate your way through the diverse, complicated and uniquely satisfying world of 7-Eleven food.
Photo by Victoria Shephard Don't be intimidated.
As a Texan, you are likely to be familiar with taquitos; however, 7-Eleven's Go-Go Taquitos are, you quickly notice, far slicker to the touch and more redolent of animal oils. Signature flavors include Monterey Jack and chicken; jalapeño cream cheese; buffalo chicken; and bacon, egg, cheese and potato, which though usually ordered as a part of a matutinal repast (often in conjunction with a big energy coffee) are available at some locations at all times of the day. Go-Go Taquitos can be eaten plain, but experienced patrons recognize the benefit of dipping sauces such as salsa, queso, salad dressing and ketchup.
Similar to Go-Go Taquitos in shape and structure, Rollers describe a style of cylindrical sandwich in which a meat or protein is ensconced in a thick starch. A corn dog roller, for example, combines a plump, all-beef hot dog with buttery, white flour dough casing, while a maple sausage pancake roller uses a flapjack to house a sweet-salty pork sausage. Please note that although Rollers initially have a lighter mouth-feel than taquitos, they are inevitably just as, if not more, filling.
Photo by Adam Gerard Drawing upon a wide range of historical and international culinary traditions, 7-Eleven cuisine is renowned for its diverse tastes and textures.
Hot dog enthusiasts will immediately recognize the big bite as a close cousin to traditional frankfurters. Distinguishing the big bite from other types of hot dogs is first the impressive burst of liquid (a delightful cocktail of oil, salt, and meat juice) that occurs with every bite. Newcomers to 7-Eleven fare will also quickly observe that it is customary to garnish your big bite with a promiscuous mix of toppings, such as chopped onions, relish, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, chili and nacho cheese. The quantitative is often privileged over the qualitative when it comes to big bite toppings as the degree to which flavors complement each other is less important than successfully layering meat with as many condiments possible.
7-Eleven is historically known for offering a wide range of hot and cold drinks, but it is perhaps most famous for the Slurpee, a partially frozen beverage available in various fruit and soda flavors including but not limited to: Cherry, Pineapple, Mango, Grapemelon, Sour Apple, Sprite, Coke Classic, Mountain Dew and Mellow Yellow. Most recently, 7-Eleven introduced a line of sugar-free/reduced-calorie Slurpees, though any purist will say you absolutely must try the original version for the more authentic experience.
Second to the Slurpee in terms of popular potables, the Big Gulp comprises 30 ounces of your choice (or choices, as mixing is strongly encouraged) of soft drink. The Big Gulp is designed to be a long-term beverage, consumed over the course of a lengthy meal, several hours of driving or even an entire day at the office. You may observe other diners at 7-Eleven opting for variations on the Big Gulp, such as the Super Big Gulp and Double Gulp, which offer 40 and 50 ounces of fluid respectively. As with the regular Big Gulp, ordering these beverages is tacit acceptance of the challenge of consuming them in their entirety within a reasonable time frame. Be forewarned that in some circles, frivolously requesting a Big Gulp, Super Big Gulp or Double Big Gulp with no intention of finishing is very much frowned upon and doing so will garner you significant social disdain.