How many times have you pondered to yourself the origins of the Big Gulp from 7-Eleven? If the answer to that question is greater than “never,” your thirsty thoughts can be now be quenched. As far as plastic cups are concerned, the Big Gulp is the Beyoncé of beverage containers. It is easily the most famous to-go container on Earth. The brand has found its way to the Urban Dictionary as a “Legendary drink from 7-Eleven and has even been a nickname for New York’s failed attempt at a restrictive soft-drink legislation. But the brand’s greatest claim to fame is the fact that it was the first to brand a 32-once cup of possibilities.
The introduction of the super-sized container marked a very significant shift in how much soda was being served in one sitting. Prior to 1955, a bottle of Coca-Cola was a measly 6.5 ounces. This means you could fit nearly five pre-1955 bottles worth of soda in the Big Gulp cup. Over time, the cup sizes have become increasingly larger, as seen in the graphic to the left.
It was the beginning of the end when Coca-Cola experimented with new 32-ounce cups. The cups were supplied to 7-Eleven stores in Southern California, and within one week, 500 cups had sold out. 7-Eleven recognized the trend of increased demand for larger servings of soda, and acted immediately. By 1976, 7-Eleven’s in-house creative group, the Stanford Agency, brewed up the name, and has been super-sizing the product ever since.
The exponential growth of the beverage holder made the product a target of the public obesity debate. 7-Eleven became a conspirator in the great obesity epidemic plaguing Americans. The real debate was whether Americans’ obesity was a causation or correlation situation. It is the American way to over-consume, and the Big Gulp just gave the people what they wanted.
7-Eleven would not be deterred by policy-makers’ harassment. In fact, 7-Eleven dispenses 38 million gallons of soda per year. 7-Eleven has ensured that they are likely located within a mile of your house, and have designed their Big Gulp cups to fit conveniently in your car’s cup holder.
The Big Gulp is a testament to how a concept can stand the test of time and come out victorious against those who would see it fail.