Today and every July 11, 7-Eleven stores give out free small Slurpees. Guess it isn’t surprising that a company with that name would want to do something for its customers on the date of 7/11, right?
If you're interested in an icy treat, you may think a Slurpee Lite, which debuted in May of 2012 and has half the calories of the classic Slurpee, is a healthy option. Let's take a closer look at an eight-ounce Slurpee Lite Fanta Sugar Free Mango Lemonade Flavor, a drink that claims to be "naturally flavored" and "0% juice," and its 13 ingredients. (Confession: I had to look many of these up since I had no idea what they were.)
1. Water. This is an easy one, and it's not surprising that it is the first ingredient, since I would expect that from a Slurpee. Unfortunately, it goes down hill from here.
2. Dextrin. A starch usually made from corn, potato, arrowroot, rice, or tapioca, this is typically used as an additive to hold ingredients together or as a thickening agent. Right off the bat, this makes you wonder what needs holding together.
3. Erythritol. While this sugar alcohol/sweetener does not provide as many calories as sugar because it is not completely absorbed into the body, a high intake of sugar alcohol in general has been found to cause gastrointestinal distress in many people.
4. Glycerin. You may be familiar with this ingredient in soap, but it's actually used as a fat emulsifier, preservative, sweetener, or thickener in many manufactured foods. I am clueless to its exact purpose in this Slurpee.
5. Citric acid. Since this is a “natural” preservative that's used to add an acidic or sour taste to foods and soft drinks, I wonder if this where the taste comes from?
6. Potassium benzoate. I'm curious as to why they needed yet another preservative, this time one that inhibits the growth of mold, yeast, and some bacteria.
7. Gum acacia. This is used as a stabilizer. (Interesting that we still haven’t gotten to any "real" foods on this ingredients list so far.)
8. Quillaia extract. An absorbent substance/food additive used in baked goods, frozen dairy products, and puddings, and as a foaming agent in soft drinks. I never realized that a Slurpee "foamed."
9. Natural flavors. Listed this way, I'm not even sure at all where they are from.
10. Sucralose. Also know as Splenda, obviously this is one of the many ways of which they were able to decrease the calories from the original version.
11. Sugar extract. I have no idea what this is besides being a form of sugar.
12. Glycerol ester of wood rosin. Yet another food additive used as an emulsifier and stabilizer, simply, I don’t even like the sound of this one
13. Yellow 6. This commonly used food coloring is very controversial as to its relationship with increasing the risk of cancer.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes a free food or drink just isn’t worth it. Today (and every day), I am going to stick my straw in a cold glass of water with lemon instead.