When it comes to convenience stores, one of the first places that comes to mind is 7-Eleven. A universally well-known store, it’s safe to say that almost everyone has been to one in their life, and enjoyed the array of slurpees, snacks, hot food or other products they sell. But how much do you really know about our favourite convenience store? Here are 11 interesting facts about 7-Eleven!
7-Eleven was founded in 1927 as an ice and beverage stand in Texas.
No, 7-Eleven didn’t start off by selling all the snacks, toiletries, candies, and hot food they sell today. They started by selling icy beverages - no wonder their Slurpees continue to be so good!
7-Eleven wasn’t called 7-Eleven at the beginning.
Originally named ‘Tote’m Stores’, the convenience store’s name actually was based off a souvenir totem pole placed in front of one of its busiest locations. The name stuck around because customers ‘toted’ away their purchases, and became the company’s first official name.
7-Eleven was renamed after the change in the store’s operation hours, which were from 7am to 11pm.
This occurred in 1946 during the company’s post-war recovery period, when such a long working shift was unprecedented. Grocery stores at the time often closed very early, so to have 7-Eleven with longer working hours made it more popular among the people.
7-Eleven was deeply affected by the Great Depression, just like other firms.
In fact, 7-Eleven was actually headed for bankruptcy in 1931. However, it managed to stay running with the help of a Dallas banker, W.W. Overton Jr.
The Slurpee was invented at a Dairy Queen.
The Slurpee was invented unintentionally when Omar Knedlik, the owner of a Dairy Queen restaurant, had his soda machine break down. To improvise, Knedlik placed his sodas in the freezer, and when he took them out later, the drink was slightly ‘slushy’ and frozen. Customers soon came back and asked for more of this ‘special drink’ - and soon, Knedlik built the first Slurpee machine and named his drink invention an ‘ICEE’. When 7-Eleven licensed the drink later on, they renamed it ‘Slurpee’, after the sound the drink makes when sucked through a straw.
24-hr stores were introduced after a location in Austin, Texas stayed open for 24 hours to meet the demand from their customers.
After this particular store stayed open for 24 hours, 7-Eleven tried it in other locations in the US such as Dallas and Las Vegas. The trials must have been successful, as there are countless 24-hour 7-Elevens all around the world today.
Japan has the most 7-Eleven store locations in the world.
With stores in all 47 prefectures, Japan has approximately 20,700 7-Eleven stores, which is roughly 31 per cent of all 7-Eleven global stores. Japan’s first 7-Eleven opened in Tokyo in May 1974.
Australian 7-Elevens have Krispy Kreme donuts delivered.
This point is self-explanatory - the Aussies know what they’re doing! Krispy Kreme delivers certain donuts to most 7-Elevens in Australia, making 7-Eleven the perfect stop to satisfy any sweet cravings.
North American 7-Elevens have offered free Slurpees on July 11th every year since 2002, to celebrate the birthday of the company.
It’s estimated that on this day, 7-Eleven gives away around 500,000 gallons of Slurpees. If you’re visiting the US, look out for that date!
Since the 2000s, 7-Elevens in North America have been hosting ‘7-Elections’.
These ‘elections’ happen informally in the US during election season, whereby customers vote by getting coffees in a blue or red coffee cup with the candidate’s name. When the cups are scanned at checkout they are entered into an unofficial system - and the results have been surprisingly accurate, with the 2000 and 2004 polls being only 1 or 2% off the real results.
Every 7-Eleven is unique to its country.
For example, select Hong Kong stores have a HotShot counter that sells hot Hong Kong street snacks and milk tea. Other locations, such as those in Japan and Hawaii, will sell local foods such as onigiri (a type of seaweed rice ball) and spam musubi (spam ‘sushi’) respectively.
Hopefully you’ve learnt something new about everyone’s favourite convenience store. Try and check these facts out yourself next time you enter a 7-Eleven!