It’s July 11, which means it's time once again for convenience store giant 7-Eleven’s annual Free Slurpee Day. As usual, the chain’s self-appointed birthday celebration means a complimentary slurpee for every customer, with a myriad of flavors to choose from: every conceivable type of fruit, a choice between Coke and Pepsi, and mystery concoctions like Alienade (?) and Snow Fruit (??).
Today’s giveaway is even bigger than in previous years. Before, in strict adherence to the promotional theme, 7-Eleven’s free Slurpees came in 7.11 ounce cups. This year, they’ll come in the regular 12-ounce “Small” size.
The change stemmed from practical concerns: “Moms asked us for cups with lids,” which the specially made promotional cups did not have. Laura Gordon, 7-Eleven’s vice president of marketing, told USA Today. “That means less mess in the car.”
The giveaway runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, or until the cups run out.
Why free Slurpees? The most obvious reason is it’s the dead middle of summer, and most of us would be hard pressed to turn down a free, icy treat. But the bigger reason, which we wrote about last year, is that ice is the very cornerstone of the 7-Eleven franchise, just as much as those two omnipresent numbers. Founded in Dallas 86 years ago, the original 7-Eleven location was attached to an icehouse, and its ability to store and sell perishables like milk and eggs within easy distance of customers was its chief draw. In the years since, the company has grown to into the world’s largest franchiser (even bigger than McDonald’s), with over 50,000 locations. The name comes from the store’s original operating hours, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The Slurpee, too, has been the chain’s signature offering since it bought rights to ICEE machines in the 1960s. Of all of 7-Eleven’s worldwide locations, residents of Manitoba, Canada, purchase the highest number of Slurpees, despite the relatively cold weather.
And while the free frozen drinks are a treat for customers, they’ve been a bigger boon for 7-Eleven. Though each 7-Eleven gives away 1,000 free Slurpees on Free Slurpee Day, actual sales of Slurpees tend to soar – in 2010, sales spiked 38 percent on July 11, according to the company. Customers also tend to spend more on other items, including snacks and gasoline. 7-Eleven expects to give away 7 million Slurpees total today, so actual sales could skyrocket even more.
To find the free Slurpee nearest you, visit the 7-Eleven store locator.