The Anatomy Of A Slurpee (And Why Free Slurpee Day Is Bad For You)

why are slurpees bad for you

It’s 7-Eleven Day (get it, 7/11 day?), also known as the day you can get a free Slurpee. We fully advocate enjoying the freebie if you’re so inclined, but we also kind of hope it will be the only Slurpee you drink this summer. Before you rush out the door to load up on 11 ounces of magically-fluffy slush, you should know exactly what you’re putting into your body (because it’s not pretty).

We broke down the anatomy of a Slurpee to reveal what kinds of chemicals, additives, and sugars you’ll really be enjoying when you celebrate summer with 7-Eleven:

SUGAR: You’re probably smart enough to know that Slurpees are full of sugar, but you may not realize that all varieties (except for the sugar-free; for more on that, see below) use high-fructose corn syrup as the primary sweetener—even the fruit flavors. This means they’re not only full of empty calories; they’ll also spike your blood sugar and fill your system with an added dose of processed ingredients.

ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS: In response to the country’s ever-growing obesity problem, 7-Eleven kindly began making sugar-free versions of their slurpees last year. An 11-ounce serving of their sugar-free flavors only costs you 20 calories–but the bad news is that the aspartame used to sweeten the drinks could be even worse for you than sugar.

CAFFEINE: If you go for Coca-Cola Classic or Barq’s Root Beer, don’t forget that you’re loading up on caffeine (8mg per 8 ounces) along with the sugar. This might not be a big deal if you’re just grabbing a kid’s size treat, but if you’re getting a jumbo cup, or giving it to your kids, you could get seriously jacked up on the mix.

FOOD DYES: If you thought Starbucks was gross for using crushed bugs in their strawberry Frappucinos, you’ll be horrified to know that certain Slurpee flavors are chock full of toxic artificial coloring. 7-Eleven uses several different food dyes, but one of hte most common is Red 40 (even the ones that aren’t red), which has been tied to reactions ranging form migraines and headaches to temper tantrums, hyperactivity, aggressive behavior, uncontrollable crying and screaming, kicking, nervousness, dizziness, and inability to sit still or concentrate in kids.

PRESERVATIVES: Sodium benzoate is a flavor preservative found in most Slurpees, which is a known carcinogen when combined with citric acid (which it is, in many flavors), and has been shown to correlate with hyperactivity, according to a 2007 study.

ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS: Cherry, berry, citrus, and other fruits abound in their flavors, but you won’t find a smidge of real fruit in Slurpees. It’s all artificial, which means yet another dose of chemicals to add to the murky mix.

QUILLAIA EXTRACT: Slurpees contain this tree-bark extract, which is used as an additive in many frozen and gelatinous foods, and used as a foaming extract in some soft drinks (particularly root beer). Although most studies indicate that it’s safe in small doses, its negative side effects can include diarrhea, stomach and intestinal disturbance, and it contains oxalates; chemicals that can lower bloodcalcium levels and cause kidney stones.

Ready to skip free Slurpee day yet? You can view specific nutrition facts and ingredients listings for every Slurpee flavor on 7-Eleven’s website, but we think you’d do best to make a smoothie at home if you’re craving a frothy treat, or if you must, go get your free Slurpee today, and then steer clear until next year.

Photo: Tom Newby Photography

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    • A Guest

      I’d have a nice, refreshing glass of water instead, but some beastly scientist just told me it’s full of “chemicals”, something called H2O.

    • Am

      While obviously a slushee can’t be “good for you”, the negative effects of aspartame are largely myth and completely unsubstantiated.

    • Hallenbecksmith

      It is Not a Bad but its a good for all of us .

    • sugar free

      Sugar free Slurpees are sweetened with sucralose and not aspertame.

    • Irina

      i was reading in your 76 version, and noticed it didn’t mention high sugar diets as a catalyst for fungal growth.

      Various mycosis external, and eventually internal, eventually systemic,
      have accelerated their march thru society in the past 100 years.

      The effect of released fungal toxins, and damaged cells by fungus, are something to be taken seriously.

      Have you studied this correlation much?

      • dude

        Ha Ha.
        In the 21st century, it pays not to worry or care about anyone.
        If you see someone walking off a cliff and they are not begging you for help, let them walk off a cliff, it does not pay to be a goody two shoes.
        If people want to know something or want help, make them pay for it, otherwise, leave them to their own, happy, destruction.
        Saves you time and worry.
        Learn from corporations and exploiters, people are most happy when they are getting screwed, it is considered normal, fuck’em all.

    • aaaaaaaa

      man fuck you man

    • TC

      Meh. Slurpees are full of deliciousness.

    • pablo


    • pablo

      Mom hates it

    • daniel

      I feel like your just a hater. Obviously people don’t care bc they eat fast food and all that other stuff daily don’t try to ruin other people’s day because you don’t like something. We all know it has its bad to it but for you to try to make ppl not want to drink something cause you don’t like it is the only disgusting thing here.

      • Arctic

        Calling people “haters” is getting way too over-used and abused. It’s juvenile. Anytime someone has anything even slightly negative, someone will just say “hater” as a really weak defense.

        Sorry, but some foods are just way too bad for you to not take seriously when it comes to the long term effects on your body.

        I know we all have to die some time, but I prefer to do it away from a nursing home, without diapers, without chemo, and able to make coherent sentences.

    • Joshua Jordan

      So, what’s your point, Briana? Everybody in the world knows that too much of ANYTHING with a lot of sugar in it is bad for you. But instead, you choose to use that “brilliant” mind of yours to break down the product into it’s individual components and try to scare people into the dangers of over-consuming each one of those components. Wow, we got a future Pulitzer Prize winner here, folks. I’m pretty sure this type of article has been done thousands of times before. *yawn*