Word play for 7-11

Three cartoons today (July 7th, or 7/11 in American usage; this will be important): a perfect pun (from Rhymes With Orange), using an ambiguity in local; a more distant pun (from Mother Goose and Grimm), linguistically and visually combining Bonnie and Clyde with Blondie ad Dagwood; and a Scott Hilburn (from The Argyle Sweater today) using the 50th anniversary of the Slurpee to float an almost-perfect pun
perches / purchase
(/z/ vs. /s/).

The cartoons:




Local anesthesia. Start with two senses of the adjective local. From NOAD2:

[1] belonging or relating to a particular area or neighborhood, typically exclusively so: researching local history | the local post office.

[2] (in technical use) relating to a particular region or part, or to each of any number of these: a local infection [a specialization of sense [1]]

Local is sense 1 is relative to a setting specified in the discourse (In New Orleans, we ate only local food, meaning food from New Orleasn); if not otherwise specified, this is the setting of the discourse itself (The stores sell very little food, meaning food from the area around here, that is, near the place where the speaker is).

In food-talk, sense [1] is often used in a kind of specialized food-jargon, in expressions of the form local X, where X is the name of a foodstuff: local beef, local carrots, local candy, etc., referring to beef, carrots, candy, or whatever grown, produced, or manufactured locally.

This is the sense the patient in #1 has in mind. The dentist, on the other hand (yes, you have to recognize this as a dentist-patient scene), is using a further specialization of sense [2], in the expression local anesthesia. From NOAD2:

anesthesia that affects a restricted area of the body. Compare with general anesthesia.

Blondie and Clyde. In #2, a zany cross between two pop-cultural pairs, the legendary bank robbers and murderers Bonnie and Clyde and the comic-strip married couple Blondie and Dagwood. The pun is on Blondie / Bonnie.

Slurpee Day. This one I owe to Nancy Friedman, who put me onto a USA Today story, “Monday is 7-Eleven’s nameday, and it’s celebrating in fine frozen fashion: with free Slurpees”, and the Scott Hilburn cartoon, which introduces Slurpee-drinking parrots to get its perches / purchase pun in.

From the story:

America’s largest convenience store chain has celebrated Free Slurpee Day on July 11 (you know, 7/11) since 2002. This year, though, marks the 50th anniversary of the Slurpee, and 7-Eleven has a birthday cake flavor to mark the occasion.

Slurpees from a machine:


A Slurpee is a slushy frozen carbonated beverage sold at 7-Eleven stores.

Machines to make frozen beverages were invented by Omar Knedlik in the late 1950s. The idea for a slushed ice drink came when Knedlik’s soda fountain broke down, forcing him to put his sodas in a freezer to stay cool, which caused them to become slushy. The result was popular with customers, which gave him the idea to make a machine to help make a “slushy” from carbonated beverages. When it became popular, Knedlik hired artist Ruth E. Taylor to create a name and logo for his invention. She created the ICEE name and designed the original logo, which is used today. Early prototypes for the machine made use of an automobile air conditioning unit.

After a successful trial of ICEE machines in 100 stores, 7-Eleven in 1965 made a licensing deal with The ICEE Company to sell the product under certain conditions. Two of these were that 7-Eleven must use a different name for the product, and that the company was only allowed to sell the product in 7-Eleven locations in the US, a non-compete clause ensuring the two drinks never went head to head for distribution rights. 7-Eleven then sold the product that in 1966 became known as the “Slurpee” (for the sound made when drinking them). The term was coined by Bob Stanford, a 7-Eleven agency director.

Earlier on this blog, a 9/27/14 piece on the Slurpee competitor the Slush Puppie. (By the way, these concoctions are not only tooth-achingly sweet but also brain-freezingly cold.)

2 Responses to “Word play for 7-11”

  1. John Baker Says:

    The play on “local anesthetic” has been around for decades; I’m most familiar with the punch line “I’m rich, give her something imported.” “Blondie and Clyde” and “no perches necessary” are new, at least to me. The latter seems uninspired; why would perches be necessary anyway? But the artwork for “Blondie and Clyde” makes that one really work for me.

  2. John Baker Says:

    Specifically, I can easily find examples of the “local anesthetic” joke from 1936 to 1977. Maybe the cartoonist thought it an old enough joke that it could safely be re-used.

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