The Best-Selling Local Slurpee Flavors of All Time at 7-Eleven Hawai‘i Are …
Did you guess POG? Haupia? Li hing mui? Read on for the Top 5.
It’s summer, so naturally, we’re thinking about Slurpees—pretty much every sweltering day, because 7-Eleven is pretty much everywhere. O‘ahu alone has 54 stores, with 11 more on the neighbor islands, all operating as part of Seven-Eleven Japan. Unlike mainland 7-Elevens, the local stores have become destinations for myriad go-to food and drink options, many created locally with local tastes in mind. I mean, can you get more local than pho, ramen and saimin? There’s spicy garlic butter Spam musubi, kalua pig cabbage bento, Nanding’s Spanish rolls in the bakery case, manapua in the hot case. And then of course there’s Slurpee.
In the aftermath of July 11, aka 7-Eleven Day, we’ve been hearing buzz about the new Butter Mochi Slurpee flavor, a Hawai‘i exclusive. We find it next to the Haupia and Blue Pineapple Slurpees. Immediately the questions burble up, much the way a Slurpee burbles to the top of its clear plastic dome cover: Why Butter Mochi Slurpee? Who decided we need Butter Mochi Slurpee? How popular is Butter Mochi Slurpee?
Super popular, to our shock. Read on for the Top 5 best-selling local Slurpee flavors in the history of 7-Eleven Hawai‘i (listed in order of release date). As for Butter Mochi, the sharpness from the carbonation presents a welcome edge that’s completely unlike the real thing, and after an immense wave of sugar (like the real thing), yes, there is a hint of butter.
- Pass-o-Guava, July 2019
- Green River, February 2020
- Li Hing Gummy, November 2020
- Ube, March 2021
- Butter Mochi, June 27, 2022 (released ahead of 7-Eleven Day)
It was 7-Eleven Hawai‘i’s merchandising manager, Debbie Poynter, who started working with Harders Hawai‘i in 2018 to come up with new flavors. I found out when I asked marketing manager Annika Streng for the best-selling local Slurpee flavors. Along with the list, she sent an entire Q&A she conducted on the spot with Poynter. Which of course generated even more questions from me. Here’s a truncated version of the Q&A that Streng started and I continued:
How do the two companies work together to create new flavors?
Debbie Poynter: Before COVID-19, 7-Eleven Hawai‘i and Harders Hawai‘i would meet regularly to brainstorm and formulate flavors together. All of our local flavors that we introduce are only available for a limited time, so we are always working on the next project together. We keep the flavors limited because we want to keep our assortment fresh, but we can bring back a flavor if it is really popular.
When we think about flavors, we are looking at three criteria: uniquely Hawai‘i, local and nostalgic.
Once we decide on flavors to try, Harders moves on to the formulation stage. They create a sample that all parties will try. I then take the sample back to our office and gather feedback from our customers and our Store Support Center. Not all flavors work out. When we tried Butter Beer, for example. For the most part, we have a great base and can work with Harders to adjust the sweetness, color, etc.
The process is highly collaborative.
I remember that there was a snag with the Li Hing flavor. Can you explain more about that?
DP: The Li Hing flavor we launched in June 2018 was real Li Hing, and that caused the lines to clog. We do have limitations, anything with pulp we cannot use, even though it tastes better. We are hoping to work on a solution for this soon, because Li Hing is such a great mixable flavor that works well with a lot of our core offerings.
When we launched Li Hing Gummy, we reformulated the Li Hing to only syrup and it was okay, but did not taste as authentic as the original.
You mentioned Butter Beer. What were the least successful Slurpee flavors?
DP: Despite rigorous testing, Butter Beer was ultimately not launched to the public. Some flavors are more popular than others—I do not think there were any “not successful” flavors.
How do you sample new flavors on customers?
DP: During the testing stage when we sample flavors internally, we use the Slurpee® machine at a store. Sometimes, we will leave this flavor on the machine for customers to try and gather their feedback. This practice isn’t something we promote because the flavor is not finalized and might change. We also try to launch new flavors during 7-Eleven Day to gain trial during the small Slurpee® giveaway that we do every year.
What local flavors are on your wish list?
DP: Lemon Peel, Kona Coffee, Green Tea.