Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thank Heaven For 7-11

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George Rears - Long before I ever read a comic book, I discovered Slurpees. I am the youngest of five kids, and my brother closest in age to me is seven years older than me. Because I had teenaged brothers and sisters, as a 6 year old, I had access to knowledge that other 6 year olds could only dream about: Wacky Packages, Topps Baseball Cards, and Slurpees...and not just Slurpees, but Slurpee cups.

In 1973, my family lived in Willingboro, NJ, a typical suburban community, with an elementary school in every neighborhood, and streets designed to funnel traffic on to main roads to alleviate traffic. However, the greatest feature of the town was the 7-11 at the entrance to our development.

My brothers and sisters were old enough to bike there alone, but I wasn't, being only 6. I remember their trips to the 7-11, and these amazing drinks they came back with: Slurpees. Cherry flavored and brown flavored (I really didn't know about soda at the time--so I went with "brown flavored"). After a while, I noticed that my family didn't throw out the cups when they were done with them--I didn't realize it at the time, but my brother Dennis was a comic book collector. At the time, 7-11 had licensed over 60 characters to appear on their 7-11 cups.

The Slurpee cups were pretty cool looking, white plastic (about 12 ounces) with pictures of DC characters on one side, and a little 7-11 logo on the other. I say DC Characters, because there were some screwy choices made to put on the cups: Martha Kent, anyone? Mr. Tawky Tawny?

It didn't take long for me to realize I could trade trips to the 7-11 if I was willing to give up or trade my Slurpee Cups to my siblings. See, this was back in the day when the counter clerk picked the next cup in the series, and filled the cup for you. There was no choosing. If he picked Commissioner Gordon, you got Commissioner Gordon. No ifs, ands, or buts. I probably gave away really cool cups like Saturn Girl and Braniac 5, all just for the Slurpee inside.

Flash forward four years, and I'm a full-fledged comic collector, living in Germany. Just one year after trading away Slurpee cups, I discovered comics, and I had become a big fan of the Line of DC Super Stars. Living near the base, I had full access to comic books at the base book store, and access to baseball cards at the base convenience store. When my parents announced we were going back to the States for a visit in the summer of 1977, I immediately thought of how to best take advantage of the situation. My conclusion: Slurpee cups. Must. Buy. Slurpee Cups.

I remember getting to my Cousin's house in Delaware and begging her to take me to a 7-11. I am not sure, but I think from that moment on my cousin must have thought of me as "that weird cousin from Germany." Nevertheless, off we went, and I happily bought a Slurpee. Only to find the cups featured Marvel Heroes! Oh the humanity!

Needless to say, one of childhoods major disappointments set in. Ironically, the Marvel cups pre-dated my collecting of Marvel comics by one year, just like the DC cups of 1973 pre-dated my first Flash comic in 1974. There must be something to this predictive power of Slurpee cups. I'll think I'll try one on the way home.

So...


3 comments:

Russell said...

I never had a 7-11 near my house growing up. However, when I was about 13 or so I happened across an "antique" store that sold old comics, magazines, and, yes, slurpee cups. I got the five Legionnaires, Aquaman, and the Elongated Man for $1 each. I never drank out of them, though...I kept them as decorations or put pens/pencils in them on my desks. All of them eventually cracked in moves but I think I still have Aquaman somewhere....!

sandy said...

The clerk at the Arlington 7-11 I frequented let me into the stockroom once, to pick one Slurpee cup out of the stock. Whichever one I wanted. I was so overwhelmed that I can't remember which one I got.

I still have my Martha Kent, and my kid is mystified by it. I walked two miles for that bitter disappointment!

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