I need to settle down. Upon hearing about the grand debut of the greatest promotion in movie history, I hopped into my near-death '94 Saturn and drove no less than 90 MPH into NYC...all for the opportunity to drink a real, live Kwik-E-Mart Squishee.
That's right -- eleven 7-Eleven stores from across the nation have done the unthinkable. In celebration of The Simpsons Movie, they've taken down all 7-Eleven branding, brought in a shitload of Simpsons character standees, frosted the donuts pink and totally transformed 'em into Kwik-E-Marts!
Words fail, but I'll give it a shot. I've seen a lot of cool franchise promotions in my time as a geeky webmaster -- everything from seven-foot Mr. Potato Heads dressed like Darth Vader to a live performance by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Nothing...NOTHING has been anywhere near as life-changing as this. I mean, I'm not even a Simpsons fanatic, and there I was, looking for the kiosk at which a person must pay admission to enter such a Babylon. Surely this couldn't have been free. I can only imagine what this whole thing means to the kind of guy who has seriously considered tattooing Frank Grimes on his ass.
I went with X-E's old pal Brian Jacks, who was covering the "event" for MTV. This provided me with the inside scoop from some of the hired hands, who wore full Kwik-E-Mart gear and did a great job of seeming interested in movie-branded soda cans. The stores were a MAJOR hit today, with much of the exclusive Simpsons foodstuffs/collectibles selling out by midmorning. There were stories of people traveling hundreds of miles to be the first in line for a coveted pink donut, and even when we got there in the late afternoon, the Kwik-E-Mart was still all aglow as hordes of Simpsons fans shuffled on in for a sampling of Buzz Cola, Squishees, and hot dogs that came in boxes with Homer's torso pictured on them.
I won't exaggerate -- aside from the fact that they replaced 7-Eleven signs with Kwik-E-Mart signs, it's really just a normal 7-Eleven with a ton of Simpsons crap all over the place. Well, there's that, and there's also the fact that every other customer begged for the cashiers to say "thank you come again," with blatant disregard for whatever their true nationalistic pride may have been. On a day like today, there just isn't time to think things through.
While looking very much like an everyday 7-Eleven, Simpsons junk is everywhere. Probably the biggest of the promotions was the Squishee machine, so let's start there.
7-Eleven has made special Slurpees for everyone from Wolverine to Superman, but I don't think they've ever gone so far as getting rid of the Slurpee name. Even if the movie sucks and tanks, it will be forever etched in history as the one and only property powerful enough to rename the Slurpee.
While most of the flavors appearing under the Squishee banner are the usual fare, there's one new beverage meant to reflect everything that is pristine and holy about the Kwik-E-Mart: "Blue Woo Hoo! Vanilla." When we got there, they'd just started getting a new batch of the stuff ready, and everyone was kind of hovering around waiting for the go-ahead to pour away. I couldn't wait. Even if it wasn't completely frozen, I needed my special blue Squishee right then and there. My hands trembled as odorous blue ooze plopped into my cup; then again, my hands seem to tremble even when I'm doing boring things, like reading the newspaper or eating sunflower seeds. Maybe I should get that checked out.
There are around 17,000 variations of Simpsons collectible cups available for your Squishee needs, but you are absolutely absurd if you choose any other cup than the one seen above -- the classic, almost generic-looking official Squishee cup. I loved it enough to stash a few clean-and-empties in my bag, as one of the workers motioned towards me to stop doing that before losing interest and letting me slide. Maybe he just understood my position. This Squishee stuff wasn't just something for us to drink. We need to immortalize it. Bet you fifty bucks that I'll still have my empty cups twenty years from now. My pride...that will be elsewhere.
Anyway, the flavor is...good. I dunno, I'm a cherry loyalist. I love it when 7-Eleven puts cartoon characters on the Slurpee machines and offers holographic cups and whatnot, but truth be told, I'm only drinking them for posterity. Still, it's an interesting flavor. I got sort of a coconutty vibe from it, which probably means I should see a doctor because there is absolutely nothing at all coconutty in it. Unlike most other "blue" drinks, this one passes on being super sour or sweet in favor of a more mellow, Slush Puppie-esque palatability.
Note: I checked. "Palatability" really is a word. I feel strangely good about myself for having used it.
God dammit, they were totally sold out of "The Official Simpsons Movie Donut," which is a fancy way of saying, "donut with pink frosting and sprinkles." From what we understand, those were the first to go. You haven't lived until you've seen 50-60 people all put their faces against a donut cabinet window, making Homer grunt noises without even realizing it after seeing an empty rack. You might theorize that pink donuts are nothing new and aren't worth crying about, but these weren't just pink -- they were radioactive pink. Like, the kind of pink usually reserved for poisonous substances. The kind of pink chemical companies use to clue people in that they'd die if they ate their products. I've been dying for clearance to eat something that pink all my life.
Another item had completely sold out by the time we got there. "Frosted Krusty O's" cereal, which I've been told is something like Froot Loops, was a hot item. Since Brian had his trusty press credentials, one of the workers brought out the sacred last batch from the storage room. They ushered out this remaining cereal like it was the friggin' Shroud of Turin, armed guards replacing the robed and worrisome religious-types.
We were only allowed to photograph it -- no purchases. I really don't want to have to pay forty-seven dollars for a box of cereal on eBay, but hey, I've done it before. Amazingly, the cereal boxes are huge. Even the most mass-produced cereals-based-on-movies usually come in smaller boxes, but these? You could eat Krusty O's for a week and still have enough left for a first grade class's cereal necklace art project.
Fortunately, some of the other goodies were still in stock. They had enough "Buzz Cola" left to quench the thirst of a small island nation, and the stuff is absolutely incredible. The cans are so thoroughly branded and genuine that I still have no idea if the Simpsons folks teamed up with Pepsi or made 'em themselves. It kinda tastes like R.C. Cola, which is about what you'd imagine Buzz Cola to taste like, strangely enough.
It just hit me that I've been plowing through this article like a loon. My apologies if I sound a little off. I'm just excited, and I've been running on Squishee-delivered adrenaline for the past five hours. I just took a moment to relax, looked at the computer clock, and what did I see? It must be a sign.
7-Eleven's typical collection of hot dogs, and hot dogs in pizza crust, and tacos shaped like hot dogs remained the same, but now, everything comes in a Simpsons Movie special box, which also includes a little sweepstakes sticker that could allow one out of every million poor eaters the chance to win giant Simpsons prizes. I didn't win, but at least I got to eat a taco shaped like a hot dog.
Even if you go into the Kwik-E-Mart with an empty wallet, there's still plenty to look at. There were a ton of plastic standees featuring various Simpsons characters -- and not just obvious ones based on the family, either. Aside from standees of everyone from Comic Book Guy to Ralph, there were even little signs encouraging us to "Vote Quimby." This is an opportune time for everyone to seek employment at the nearest Kwik-E-Mart-styled 7-Eleven, because you know those lucky dogs are going to swipe these things and make a killing on 'em later.
While I've covered all of the main products, there's tons more waiting to be bought. Simpsons Fruit Snacks! Radioactive Man comics! Marge cookies! I'm pretty sure that most of these items will be available at 7-Elevens nationwide, so even if you aren't fortunate enough to live near one of the official Kwik-E-Marts, you can probably still enjoy a grape fruit snack shaped like Snowball XXVII.
My articles are usually five times longer than this, but I think I'll stop here. Despite the overwhelming attitude that The Simpsons lost its spark years ago, seeing this was just incredible. I mean, it was almost twenty years ago that I used bootleg Bartman t-shirts to boost my cool factor in the fourth grade. To see the show come so far even after all this time -- to the point where thousands of fans will bust a nut over a donut with pink frosting -- it's obvious that there's still some gas left in the tank. Even if there isn't, who cares? I already got my Squishee cup. I can sleep easy.
Wait, shit, I forgot to show you the Kwik-E-Mart coolers!