During my childhood in the suburbs of New Jersey, I thought 7-Eleven was a place I'd only end up at if I were stranded at a gas station, but in Hong Kong—where there are over 900 locations—I went to a 7-Eleven almost every day. I need a SIM card. Head to 7-Eleven. I'm thirsty. Head to 7-Eleven. I need to hoard all the Asian snacks and candy. Head to 7-Eleven. (It's where I found all these pizza-flavored snacks. Score!)
What makes 7-Eleven in Hong Kong so much more exciting than 7-Eleven in the US? It's full of Asian products! I bet you figured that out on your own. Yeah. Well. Visiting food markets in other countries or seeing how American chains* translate overseas are some of my favorite things to do on vacation. I hope I'm not the only one.
* I'll note that the Dallas-born chain was bought out by a Japanese company in 2005. Japan has more 7-Elevens than any other country in the world. The US headquarters are still based in Dallas.
Oh yeah, and there's this awesome thing: cute, seasonal, Sanrio-themed promotional items. I'm only somewhat ashamed of my affinity for cute things. ...Just kidding, I will love cute things with a violent fervor until I die. 7-Eleven Hong Kong has a website, 711campaign.hk, dedicated to these limited-time promotions. Collect stamps based on how much money you spend, and when you get enough stamps you can exchange them for an adorable, mostly useless prize, currently an array of Sanrio characters combined with desserts. If I lived in Hong Kong, I'd collect the hell out of those stamps. (I didn't get any stamps during my trip because I forgot to ask for them. Whoops. Don't make the same mistake I did.)
About the author: Robyn Lee is the editor of A Hamburger Today and takes many of the photos for Serious Eats. She'll also doodle cute stuff when necessary. Read more from Robyn at her personal food blog, The Girl Who Ate Everything.