Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Summer of the Slurpee

It's the Summer of the Slurpee!

I'm not exactly sure why it's the Summer of the Slurpee. Someone decided they wanted a Slurpee, other people liked it, and it escalated from there. (It wasn't me. I was not the instigator of the Summer of the Slurpee.) (French Toast Week? That was me. Baconpalooza? Guilty. Summer of the Slurpee? Innocent.)

Just to clarify, a Slurpee is a carbonated frozen ice drink available exclusively at 7-Eleven convenience stores. An Icee is similar to a Slurpee, kind of like an RC Cola is similar to a Coke. (Back when I was a kid Icees were sold at Kmart and other non-7-Eleven establishments.) Other stores now have drinks similar to a Slurpee, but there is only one real Slurpee.

There are a few factors why the Slurpees have been so popular this summer, other than, of course, their goodness. One factor: our air conditioner went out for almost a week. It was very hot outside. It was even hotter inside. A cold Slurpee is a very good thing on a very hot day.

Another factor: tonsils. Our four-year-old, Buzz, had his tonsils taken out. To help ease the pain in his throat, the doctor suggested ice cream, popsicles, and Slurpees. I was a bit surprised to find that, given the choice, Buzz would pick Slurpees over popsicles. My wife says it's because he doesn't like the sticks in the popsicles.

My boy is just like me! I have never been a very big fan of popsicles, either. And for the very same reason, because I don't like the sticks. That's when it occurred to me: popsicle sticks are like the bones of a popsicle! I don't like bones in my food (see my previous post, No Bones About It) and I don't like sticks in my popsicles. If I can't eat it, I don't want it! That's why I've always liked ice cream sammiches more than fudgesicles or popsicles.

Anyway, that's why the Slurpee was Buzz's choice when it came for something cold and wet to ease his scratchy throat. Hence the Summer of the Slurpee!

Beat the Heat with a Slurpee! (I wonder if that's how the San Antonio Spurs won?)

Our local 7-Eleven is featuring a flavor called the "LeBron James Sprite 6 Mix." I tried to get one for my wife the day after Game 1 of the NBA Finals, which is the game where LeBron James sat out much of the 4th quarter of the game because of cramps in his legs. I say I "tried" to get the Slurpee, because when the cup got three-quarters of the way full, the machine stopped working, pretty much just like LeBron. The day after Game 2 (in which LeBron played quite well and his team won) the "LeBron James Sprite 6 Mix" Slurpee machine worked just fine. (I didn't happen to try the machine after Games 3, 4, or 5, all of which were losses by LeBron's team. It's probably just as well.)

But, for all the Slurpees that have been consumed in our house this summer, I haven't had very many. Why? Because when I drink I'm a guzzler, not a sipper. Give me a cool, refreshing carbonated beverage and I will glurgle it down in just a few seconds. My Mom always said, "You don't even taste it, you drink it down so fast!" But she's wrong; I do taste it. And that's the way I enjoy a drink. I like to guzzle.

Unfortunately, you can't guzzle a Slurpee. I tried to guzzle the first Slurpee I had during the Summer of the Slurpee, and I ended up with the dreaded "ice cream headache," also known as the "brain freeze!" "Brain freeze" is that debilitating sharp pain in your forehead from eating or drinking something cold too quick. To call it simply a "headache" is like saying Lindsay Lohan is a "bit rambunctious."

So, since that first "brain freeze" of the summer, I've been very careful to just sip and not guzzle. Mostly I just do my daddy duty as "official food finisher" and finish off the remains of the Slurpees that the kids leave in their cups when they get tired of them and decide to go off and play. (The Slurpees are warmer by then, and less likely to give me the Brain Freeze.)

One of the distinctive features of the Slurpee experience is the spoon-straw. It is a straw with a little spoon scoop at the end.

I wasn't sure what this thing was called, so I was a bit surprised to find that it is officially called a "spoon-straw." Everyone knows that a fork/spoon combination is called a "spork." So why isn't a spoon-straw called a "spraw" or a "stroon?"

Spraw? Stroon?

I think we should decide here and now. Is it a spraw? Or is it a stroon? (Personally, I think I favor "stroon.")

In the long run it probably doesn't matter. Because just like the fork part of the spork isn't very effective (have you ever actually been able to stab something with a spork?), the spoon part of the stroon (spraw?) doesn't do much good, either. It's hard to scoop up much with a stroon.

The Summer of the Slurpee has made me think back to my childhood. I grew up in the small town of Arimo, Idaho (population 300-ish.) When we did any shopping, we would have to take the 30-mile drive to the "big city" of Pocatello. We would usually make this trip two or three times a week.

When we would leave the "city" to head back home, we would usually stop somewhere to get a drink for the ride home. Sometimes we would stop at Tasty-Treet to get an ironport. (A carbonated beverage made in the heavens!) Sometimes we would stop at Del's Thrifty Market and get a bottle of pop.

But sometimes we would stop at the 7-Eleven and get a Slurpee! This was especially desirous in the mid-70s when the Slurpees came in Marvel super-hero cups! Nothing would make me quite as happy as riding down the road with my Iron Man or Fantastic Four cup filled with a root beer flavored Slurpee!

(As long as I didn't drink it too fast. BRAIN FREEZE!)

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