7-Eleven Is Celebrating Its 96th Birthday With Free Slurpees

7-Eleven is not only the world's first convenience store, it's also the largest. After its debut in 1927, the retailer has grown to more than 83,000 stores in 19 countries. As the first to sell coffee in to-go cups, the first to sell gas, and the first to have a self-service soda fountain, 7-Eleven owes its success to its loyal customers. To celebrate its upcoming 96th birthday, 7-Eleven is giving away free small Slurpees to anyone who comes into a store on July 11. However, if you are a 7Rewards or Speedy Rewards member, you can get an extra free Slurpee between July 1 and July 10. And, if you order using 7NOW Delivery on July 8, you can get another free Slurpee.

"This Slurpee Day we're multiplying the fun by giving our customers three opportunities to enjoy their favorite frozen drink for free," 7-Eleven's Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing & Sustainability Officer Marissa Jarratt said in a press release. "As a part of our summer-long 'Anything Flows' campaign, we invite everyone to celebrate the next generation of Slurpee with us. No matter what your flow is, we have a Slurpee flavor to match, so come enjoy yours this Slurpee Day."

Along with the three free Slurpee deals, loyalty members can receive $1 off foods, such as the Big Bite Hot Dog, $1 pizza slice, and the $1STUFDCAKE beginning July 1.

7-Eleven's Slurpees originated at a Kansas Dairy Queen

7-Eleven and its famous Slurpees are often spoken in the same sentence, but 7-Eleven did not create this popular drink. Dairy Queen — beloved maker of Dilly bars and Blizzards — first discovered the Slurpee. According to the Kansas Historical Society, Omar Knedlik stored sodas in the freezer at his Coffeyville Dairy Queen because the restaurant didn't have a functional soda fountain. Customers loved the drinks when they came out halfway frozen, so Knedlik decided to capitalize on the hype. 

First, he rigged an ice cream maker to create the slushy drinks and began working on a machine to create the perfect frozen beverage, which eventually became the first ICEE machine. Knedlik enlisted the help of the John E. Mitchell Company to help manufacture and mass-produce the ICEE machines in 1960.

Per Smithsonian Magazine, 7-Eleven started buying ICEE machines for its stores in 1965 — but renamed them Slurpees. "The first time I heard that sound through a straw, it just came out 'slurp,'" said Bob Stanford, the director of 7-Eleven's in-house ad agency, recalling when he came across the product during a 1967 meeting. "We added the two e's to make a noun. It was just a fun name and we decided to go with it."