Sometimes, we all hit rock bottom. Turns out, based off the things I’ve eaten and documented on this blog, I’ve been at the bottom for a while.
Let’s say you’re wandering around, drunk, after a night out on the town. All the late-night restaurants have already closed, the streets drained of all signs of life except for the occasional rat scurrying away into the shadows. Even the hardest-working cabbies have gone home to go to bed.
You think about what’s at home to eat, and you realize there’s nothing in your fridge except for a half-empty can of broken dreams and a container of capers that won’t seem to go away. Because you bought them once for a recipe but then never needed capers ever again and that was years ago. But you need to eat, something, anything. Suddenly you remember your name is Dannis Ree, and there’s nobody waiting at home for you and all you know is darkness and death and the deepest kind of loneliness.
And then a nightmarish image blossoms in from the dark corners of your mind: Tubes of meat, glowing in an unholy sheen of oil, rolling perpetually on strange heated rollers for unspecified amounts of time, until some fool comes in and drunkenly buys them in order to lamely stave off an impending hangover.
The light of a 7-Eleven hits your face, and all fades to black.
That was unnecessarily dramatic. But I can’t think of many other circumstances in which you would buy hot food from the 7-Eleven. There’s something hypnotic and hellish about those poor hot dogs spinning eternally on those rollers. When’s the last time you actually saw anybody order one of those things? Without crying, I mean.
I ordered a bunch of food from the neighborhood 7-Eleven today and made up that scenario to justify why I did it. I mean, look at that hot dog casket. Harvey looks like he’s about to start wailing, Mr. Bee is just sitting there with that dopey look on his face, and the Pillsbury Dough Boy is just being creepy in the back.
Let’s start with the appetizers. Taquitos (“little tacos” in Spanish), traditionally known as flautas at most Mexican restaurants, are rolled up tortillas, typically filled with meat, and fried until crisp. They were one of the first Mexican dishes that was developed as a frozen product, presumably because they’re easy to heat back up and re-crisp.
According to Wikipedia, the U.S. government has determined that a taquito must contain at least 15% meat. I like that even the government has an opinion on taquitos. I didn’t know governments could have official opinions on taquitos.
They’re an ideal food to serve at 7-Eleven because they come in a tubular format that fits perfectly on the perpetual grease rollers. Being heated on those rollers ensures that they stay at a barely warm temperature while maintaining a stale soggy texture the entire time. Genius.
I asked for one of each — there’s typically a lot of different varieties, but my neighborhood 7-Eleven only had the Buffalo Chicken Rollers (left), Taco and Cheese Taquito (top), and Monterey Jack and Chicken Taquito (right).
The Buffalo Chicken Roller is actually not a taquito but is a meat product that is shaped like one. Impostor! It’s a formed chicken sawdust tube that has a buffalo wing crust. The crust tastes like Frank’s hot sauce. It’s dry as hell, and the exterior is stale and soggy. This is what you feed your enemies.
The Taco and Cheese Taquito is like one of those taco-kit tacos mixed with nacho cheese. If it were crisp, it would be a fantastic follow-up to a huge bong rip, but it’s not crisp, and therefore it ends up tasting like bachelorhood.
The Monterey Jack and Chicken Taquito is just non-descript cheese and small slices of chicken. I wish I had more to say than that. All of these tubes are just soggy and stale and redolent of desperation.
The Chili Cheese Hot Dog Roller is a foot long, and I’m not even sure that’s its real name, because it’s not even on the 7-Eleven website. It’s a very long hot dog that’s been forced into a tortilla. I say “forced” because there’s no other explanation as to why it’s in there.
The chili cheese taquito roller thing is lined with chili and nacho cheese. It’s hard to see, but it’s there. But the real shame is the hot dog, which has a strong fake smoke flavor. It tastes like a swollen and puffy Slim Jim that has a severe case of gout.
This is my review: No.
Doritos® Loaded came out a while ago, but if you don’t know what they are, they’re basically mozzarella sticks on a bad LSD trip.
These triangle-shaped mistakes are wedges of cheese product that have been crusted in crushed Nacho Cheese Doritos.
Imagine Velveeta that’s finger-blasted the bottom of a Doritos bag after a long makeout session and this is pretty much what you get. The cheese is a gel-like consistency with a powerful kick to your teeth of Doritos flavor.
Yes, the bottom of a Doritos bag is usually the best part, but in this case, the flavor keeps hounding you and won’t leave you alone once you had a little taste.
Just like, you know.
There’s pizza, too. For all intents and purposes, it looks like pizza, and mostly tastes like pizza, but it has a fruit-candy aftertaste that I don’t understand. The dough is gummy and mealy. It’s like a Civil War reenactment of pizza, a semi-accurate depiction that seems great at first but then you realize it’s just a bunch of fat old hairy guys playing with muskets. There’s nothing worse than a bunch of fat old hairy guys playing with muskets. That’s what this pizza is like. Fat guys with muskets.
However, it’s not the worst pizza I’ve ever had. Your mom makes worse. She couldn’t cook her way out of a paper bag.
And now — the standard stars of the 7-Eleven sideshow, the Big Bite® Hot Dogs. There’s a regular hot dog and a quarter-pound hot dog. Normally bigger is better, but in this case, the bigger hot dog ends up being so dessicated that it takes on a strange spongy texture, much like a fish cake but without the moisture. It’s like biting into a dry meat sponge. The smaller one is better, only because you can’t really taste the hot dog.
The good thing about 7-Eleven hot dogs is that they have a topping bar, which you can use to simulate a Chicago-style hot dog. I did a good makeup job on those, didn’t I? Like they say, you can’t polish a turd, but you can top it with all sorts of cool toppings. You’re still eating a turd, though.
Harvey and Mr. Bee are pretending that the cardboard hot dog box is a coffin. They’re suggesting that when you eat this food, you’ll be putting your culinary self-respect to rest forever. Amen.
If you find yourself at 7-Eleven, drunk off your ass, do yourself a favor and buy a frozen pizza instead and fall asleep on the couch, mid-sob while it burns in the oven, like a normal person. That way, when the fire department shows up, you’ll at least have some company.
39 comments for “Desperation Food: A Review of 7-Eleven’s Hot Food Items”