In a kid's world, heaven is a Slurpee on a 90-degree day.
And how can you improve on heaven? Easy. The Slurpees could be free, your mom could be behind the wheel chauffeuring you to not one but four 7-Eleven stores, and the words "you're going to ruin your appetite before dinner" are not uttered once.
Can you say: Best. Mom. Ever.
Sheila Raddatz said she went out with the intention of making one stop at the to take advantage of the convenience store's annual "7-Eleven Day"-- July 11 -- when 7.11-ounce Slurpees are on the house.
But it's hard not to get caught up in the contagious fever that comes with getting something for nothing, as Raddatz soon found out. The kids -- her son Matt and daughter Jennifer and their friends Daniel Polk and Drew and Brandon Rausch -- were soon clamoring for another.
"As they guzzled them down and begged for more, I was left with the dilemma," Raddatz said in an e-mail account of their adventure. "'Do I take them in [the store again] for a repeat or do I make it an adventure and find another store and be less conspicuous?'”
The latter won out and she soon found her minivan headed north on Route 59, en route to the 7-Eleven at 95th Street and Book Road in Naperville.
Round two, and Raddatz finally indulged by sampling a raspberry Slurpee. But two was not enough for the troops, who at this point had succumbed to "Slurpee madness," she said.
"At this moment, I am thinking, 'Am I nuts to keep going and entertaining the kids with the thrill of the hunt for free Slurpees?'" she wrote. "You bet I am!"
From there it was over to Weber Road, where she found not one but two 7-Elevens -- one north of Interstate 55 in Bolingbrook and another south of the interstate in Romeoville, she said.
The happy surprise at the Bolingbrook store: an unexpected flavor, banana, which has become Matt Raddatz's new favorite, his mother said.
(Traditional Slurpee flavors once were cherry, cola, grape and root beer, but the company is nothing if not innovative when it comes to its slushy frozen concoction, which made its debut in 1967. Over the years, it has offered dozens of unusual tongue teasers, including pina colada, sour green, Twizzler, apple mango, chocolate and Bubble Yum.)
At each stop the group had a tradition, Raddatz said. Take a "ceremonial" picture and say thank-you to every clerk in the store.
By store four, it was pretty clear that a quartet of Slurpees was enough for even the most diehard sweet-tooth.
Raddatz said she has no regrets for creating what will no doubt be a long-remembered expedition for her charges.
"Was this the most productive afternoon? No," she wrote. "Did I feed the kids a lot of unnecessary calories? Yes. Did we have an afternoon of laughter, burps and various memory-making moments? Yes, and we wouldn’t have had the chance to do something so silly if it weren’t for the 'unofficial birthday' of 7-Eleven. Thank you, 7-Eleven!"
(Check out the four 'ceremonial' pictures by clicking on each one. The kids are holding up fingers to represent which number Slurpee they're on.)