A sign in the window flogs 7-Eleven’s Italian sausage, part of an aggressive fast-food campaign at area stores.
As I was walking past the 7-Eleven — one has just gone in across from the Voice offices just south of Cooper Square — the Italian sausage caught my eye and my hackles were raised. How dare they bomb into town, these reverse carpetbaggers, and try to sell us Italian sausages made somewhere else, when Italian sausages made here are the best in the world? Still, curious to try it, I swallowed my scruples and barged in the door.
The $1.99 sausage looks a bit pale in the greenish light of the convenience store.
Once inside, I observed several types of sausage being kept warm on one of those metal roller contraptions like they have in theaters, which seemed very retro on the chain’s part.
The Italian sausage itself was exceedingly pale and flecked with spices. The attendant donned disposable plastic gloves and, also using tongs, placed the sausage in a regular white-bread bun, making the process doubly hygienic. The link was about 1.5 times the diameter of a street frank, making it look quite large.
Instead of peppers and onions — the traditional toppings for Italian sausages served in buns — there was a free fixin’s bar, which offers a choice of ketchup, mustard, pickle chips, raw onions, canned jalapenos, and some very cold sauerkraut. I dressed the thing with mustard, like in the picture in the front window. Then I tasted the sausage. Very porky, salty, and slightly smoky, with a nice and authentic jolt of fennel, and enough chile flakes to slightly singe your mouth.
The thing is made by Oscar Mayer for 7-Eleven, and really, at $1.99 it was a good deal and quite tasty. I’d get it again, if I could put on the cloak of invisibility so as not to be observed going into the place.
An enthusiastic 7-Eleven Italian sausage eater.
Next: The other sausages rolling at 7-Eleven
Inevitably, I returned to try some of the other sausages available.
The Oscar Mayer recreation of the iconic New York dog was smokier, saltier, and an angry shade of red. It wasn’t a very good imitation, but tasted pretty good aside from the overwhelming saltiness. The worst part was the cold, bland micro-kraut that was available to put on it. Real sauerkraut, please!
The so-called Bahama Mama German sausage was neither German nor Bahamian, but it was spicy, greasy, and huge. Priced at $2.39, it will certainly fill you up.
The new Bowery 7-Eleven slings a selection of cheap and not-so-bad sausages.