Mention 7-Eleven and most people think Big Gulps, Slurpees, lottery tickets and snack food. Health food is the last thing people expect 7-Eleven to be serving. However, the convenience store is testing some options that are healthy, fresh and low in calories.
Walk into many 7-Elevens and one right away sees racks of chips and candy, fresh baked goods at the register, the rotating hot dogs and pizza. Look deeper, however, and fruit, hard-boiled eggs, sushi and fresh deli-style sandwiches are also available for purchase. But, the chain wants people to not just grab something because they stopped in for beer or coffee. They are hoping the new line drives people to go to 7-Eleven to pick up lunch as a reason.
So, quinoa salad accompanied by a chimichurri dressing and cold-pressed juices, including kale and wheatgrass, are now available as healthier fresh food options alongside the traditional hot dogs and doughnuts. The new items are being piloted in more than 100 7-Eleven stores in the greater Los Angeles area. If successful, the product line will expand further in California and possibly go national.
The new selections were developed with Anthony “Tony” Horton, Jr., a fitness guru who is best known for his boot camp style P90X home fitness program that sold 4 million copies. Horton later delved into healthier food and created the Tony Horton Kitchen (THK). Many of the new options were previously only available via home delivery from THK.
The pressed juice flavors being offered at 7-Eleven include such ingredients as celery, apple, kale, cucumber, lime, romaine lettuce, lemon, spinach, wheat grass and clover sprouts. There is a selection of sandwiches on whole-grain bread, such as one featuring grilled chicken topped with blueberry mustard and another with a stack of roasted turkey breast. Two wraps offered feature spicy black bean hummus with either vegetables or turkey added. Salad choices include a curried chicken along with a pomegranate raita dressing.
The sandwiches, wraps and salads average 360 calories. Most are packed with protein and dietary fiber. Prices for the new healthy options vary from $4.75 to $6.50.
According to THK, the food is better for people than typical fast food or supermarket convenience choices. Those foods are often loaded with salt or fried. THK was originally developed to complement Horton’s external fitness programs with well-balanced, nutritious food for internal fitness.
7-Eleven said they are introducing the line in response to customer demand. Fresh product sales in their stores jumped 30 percent in the last year. On social media and customer comment channels, healthy foods that can be grabbed on the run are the second-more requested item. They even report that 7-Eleven now sells seven times more bananas than its best-selling candy bar.
While the new options may draw a newer crowd, fans of their chicken wings and brownies need not worry. The convenience store chain is not eliminating their other offerings. They are merely adding more choices with the idea of adding more health-conscious customers seeking better alternatives to fast food. The chain would probably be happy serving up the hummus wrap along with Big Gulps and the fresh-baked cookies at the 7-Eleven registers, thereby negating the ‘health’ food’s benefits.
By Dyanne Weiss