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The Joyful Quest for Free Slurpee(s)

On '7-Eleven Day,' the convenience store chain's unofficial birthday, Sheila Raddatz took her children and three of their friends on an adventure they're not likely to forget.

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.)

Betsey July 12, 2011 at 01:05 PM
Thanks for the story, we were actually on our way home from Milwaukee. We stopped at the OHare Oasis, when I remembered the notice on Facebook about the "Free Birthday Slurpee Day". So we tried every single one. I to probably would have done the same thing as you, for my kids. But, my husband was driving.
mmaro July 12, 2011 at 02:11 PM
Wow, ya missed the point Debbie Downer (kristie). Great idea Sheila!!
Sheila Raddatz July 12, 2011 at 04:04 PM
Thank you! The kids are very excited to have an article about them. Just goes to show that life's simple pleasures aren't something that should be overlooked. :o) Next year we may need a bus...... haha Happy summer all!
Julie Ferenzi July 12, 2011 at 05:27 PM
We stopped in for a Slurpee last night around 7:00 at the store on Rt. 126 and Rt. 59, but the free ones were gone. We decided to purchase larger ones instead, but those that were upset about it abandoned the larger cups and huge messes that they made, or walked out of the store without paying altogether! I posted a photo above... it's sad that this is how some people react. Good for you Sheila for thanking the owners, and teaching your kids manners. The condition of the store I took photos of would never have been left in this condition if more parents raised their kids with care and concern for other people and their property.
Sheila Raddatz July 12, 2011 at 06:55 PM
I truly made it a point that each child said "Thank you" on the way out. I am saddened to see the mess at the Plainfield location that you pictured. When we were there in the early afternoon, there was a male employee that was extremely courteous standing there. He was constantly mopping and keeping the area spotless. He even did it with a partial smile--with the hoards I saw approaching the machine, his partial smile was a miracle in itself. haha
HMDWS July 13, 2011 at 02:09 PM
Weren’t the free drinks 1 per customer? This in my opinion is teaching kids the wrong message. If everyone were to take advantage of the company by being selfish the promotion would end. The point was to celebrate and enjoy one free Slurpee not to take advantage of the system. This is a prefect portrayal of what is wrong with society today.
Ken July 13, 2011 at 03:01 PM
I was thinking the same thing. This is part of the reason that some people were not able to get 1 for free.
Diana Polk July 14, 2011 at 01:40 AM
To all the "kill joys" out there, I say lighten up. You can click on the following link and read the USA Today article about how 711 actually turns a profit from the "free" Slurpee promotion. As long as the kids were polite, I say let them have some fun! http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2011-07-10-free-711-slurpees_n.htm
Apu Nahasapeemapetilon July 15, 2011 at 08:31 PM
Thank You, Steal again.
Julie Ferenzi July 15, 2011 at 09:13 PM
I think you're right Kimberly. And while I don't think Ms. Raddatz was intentionally meant to convey that message, I think it was the wrong one to send. And despite the fact that the company makes money on free Slurpee day is beside the point. It's how we teach our kids to treat others and their property, and setting a good example about following the rules. The store owner offered to let me have my Slurpees for free, but I insisted on paying. In return, he insisted on giving me a discount. I think he appreciated me trying to help him instead of giving him an attitude like the rest of the customers that were mad that the free ones were all gone...
Dan Raddatz July 15, 2011 at 10:52 PM
I just wanted to point out that alot of people who just want to rain on any ones fun. Yes I am Sheila's husband, I work on a public works crew that spends hundreds of dollars a year per guy at 7-11 on coffee and snacks for our breaks during long nights plowing or cleaning up after storms. We just like you buy coffee on the way to work and fountian drinks on the way home too, so lighten up on my kids and wife as well as the children that when out to have a fun afternoon on 7-11. To those who what to make jabs at children for missing out on a 7 oz cup I will let you know it went to a good cause. Next time you see a worker in bright green or orange with reflective stripes, pony up and buy his break and say "Thanks for what you do for us year round making it a safe commute"
Jerry July 15, 2011 at 10:55 PM
I don't know which is funnier....Apu's comment or Dan's.

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