The Cheapest Gourmet

By Zach Bostic

I hurried down River Road in my 2001 Land Cruiser. In the front seat sat a meal which I can only describe as gourmet, and my excitement mounted by the minute in anticipation of my dinner.

Maybe that’s an exaggeration. After much deliberation and deep thought, I bought a Honey Mustard BBQ Chicken Sandwich, a Big Gulp, and two Twinkies from the world’s largest and most successful convenience store: 7-Eleven. With nearly 8,600 locations in North America and 43,500 worldwide, I figured my meal was destined to be fulfilling and of the highest quality. My hypothesis was supported by the cashier’s claim that the store sells the majority of their prepared food during the noon to one o’clock hour. If it sold, it had to be tasty.

Unfortunately, this was not the case.

High Class Cuisine. Photo credit: Zach Bostic.

Let’s start with the main course: the sandwich. In the moment, I was sure I had picked the most benign and welcoming out of the slew of options. After all, the sandwiches sit in a heated box simply waiting for a clueless buyer to come along. That was me. Served in similar packaging to that of a Chick-fil-a Chicken Sandwich, I was instantly alarmed by two details: there was not a sell-by date, and the list of ingredients covered the entirety of the back of the package. I considered the possibility that these two features were a sign that I shouldn’t eat it, but with a severe lack of proper judgement, I pressed forward. Upon removing the sandwich from the bag, it was already coming apart; this was another omen. I persevered yet again. I completed my plate with the two Twinkies and sat to enjoy – or try to enjoy – my meal. I took a bite of the sandwich.

Try to imagine the smell of 7-Eleven. Now, move it from your olfactory glands to your taste buds. You now know exactly how this Honey BBQ Chicken Sandwich tasted. I saw this as the third and final sign. The flavors of honey, barbecue, and chicken were lacking and borderline non-existent. The unfathomably dry texture of the sandwich only added to my disappointment. Upper School English teacher (and Match adviser) Vlastik Svab, a fellow 7-Eleven sandwich survivor, agrees with my main consensus: the sandwich is dreadful.

Hoping to avenge the lacking entrée, I moved on to the desert: two Hostess Twinkies. One of the most famous packaged goodies, Twinkies have had an esteemed but rough history. Originally created in 1930, Twinkies have graced the market for nearly 100 years. Disastrously, in 2012, Hostess filed for bankruptcy, and the legendary snack disappeared. However, following the purchase and revitalization of the Hostess brand, the historic Twinkie rose from the ashes. Thus, yet again, I had a feeling that the mass production and sale of a product would ensure its taste would be at least adequate.

I should have learned from my first experience because, again, my logic proved unrealistic.

Image courtesy of 7-eleven.com.

Both Twinkies were, to state it simply, inadequate. However, considering the fact that the Twinkie rack seemed to be neglected by the 7-Eleven employees, it may be fair to infer that these “non-perishables” had perished. I was then left with my Big Gulp, and considering the circumstances, I decided to fill it with root beer, a soda I believe to be a trustworthy classic. Thankfully, and for the first time that evening, I was satisfied with my choice.

So where did it all go wrong? Did I happen to grab the inferior sandwich of the batch? Could it be that the Twinkies were being sold as vintage collectibles rather than an edible food option? This brought me to a difficult conclusion, one that I had hoped to disprove with this review: maybe 7-Eleven should simply avoid prepared food and shift their attention towards their snack selection.

Overall, I was hoping to inform the public about the existence of a breakthrough: a state-of-the-art streamlining of fast food as we know it. As this did not happen, one may say my undertaking was a blunder. I do not necessarily disagree. But for $4.32 in its entirety, it was an experiment executed with thrift and zeal.

About the author

Zach Bostic is a senior at Collegiate and he probably can't hear you unless you yell.