It's not yet summer -- barely spring -- but the new Diet Coke Slurpee briefly sold at 7-Eleven already has melted down.
Just one month after rolling out the Diet Coke Frost Cherry Slurpee, the frozen concoction has been removed from 7-Eleven stores nationally, Coca-Cola and 7-Eleven confirmed in a joint statement. The problem: It didn't freeze right.
"A significant number of stores experienced dispensing quality issues involving the product freezing consistency," the joint statement says. Never mind that last month, Coca-Cola executives boasted about cracking the code after 31 years on how to blend the world's best-selling diet soft drink into a frozen beverage.
It's back to the drawing board.
"In keeping with both companies' quality standards, 7-Eleven has removed the product," says the statement.
Executives from both companies declined to discuss the snafu any further. No clue if the beverage will ultimately return to 7-Eleven or elsewhere. Coca-Cola had previously announced plans to add other diet flavors to the line later this spring and expand the frozen beverage to other retailers.
John Sicher, editor of Beverage Digest, the specialty trade publication, says the process of freezing diet sodas isn't simple. "Creating frozen diet carbonated beverages is tricky. The diet sweeteners don't facilitate viscosity control like sugar or corn sweetener," he says, in an email.
Executives from Coke and 7-Eleven note there are no health or safety issues with the product.
But one brand guru notes that while the two consumer product giants should certainly have done better product testing, they won't walk off with too much Slurpee on their collective faces.
"A major trend today is high tolerance for trial and error," says Steven Addis, CEO of the branding agency Addis. Companies, he says, tend to get more credit for pushing the boundaries. "Consumers are more open to companies trying new things and will give them the benefit of the doubt for attempts at innovation -- even if they fail."