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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About 7-11 — But Were Afraid to Ask

7-11-01 “Open 24 Hours” may be the best three words in the English language. Photo: Justin Taylor

7-Eleven: Home to the Slurpee, questionably grilled meats, and 3 am toilet paper runs. Throughout its 88-year history, the company has ingrained itself into our culture, our neighborhood, and our clogged hearts.

But what do we really know about this pervasive business?

Who had the idea to start 7-Eleven?

7-Eleven began as a roll of the dice from Southland Ice Company founder Joe C. Thompson when an employee, John Jefferson Green, suggested the company should begin selling household staples like bread and milk in their Texas ice stores.

Jefferson kept his store open during evenings and Sundays and seeing its success, Thompson Sr. later adopted these hours throughout all of their locations. The company took a major hit during The Great Depression, but the end of Prohibition ultimately saved the company (because nothing stirs American wallets quite like easily accessible alcohol).

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Prohibition + Illuminati reference. Photo: wackystuff

How did it get its name?

Originally, the stores were called Tote’m stores because customers would tote their purchases home. Many locations were decked out in Eskimo decor after Thompson visited Alaska because nothing draws customers in like a large totem pole in the middle of Texas.

In order to further differentiate themselves from grocery stores, Tote’ms opened at the scandalous hours of 7am to 11pm. In 1946, all Tote’ms became 7-Eleven’s in a massive, pre-television marketing move in order to promote their relatively revolutionary hours.

Well, when did they start opening 24/7?

Because of the most Texan reason possible: football. In 1963, the aftermath of a college football game in Austin kept the local 7-Eleven so busy, the store couldn’t close. Several locations experimented with 24/7 hours on the weekends until the entire chain realized how high demand was for life’s necessities (read: cigarettes and soda pop) in the middle of the night.

What’s the difference between an ICEE and a Slurpee ?

A powerful marketing team and a potentially addictive mystery ingredient (high fructose corn syrup or heroin, depending on the tongue color of who you ask). 7-Eleven’s notorious Slurpee was originally marketed as an ICEE, but the name and product was revamped after a couple of years to connect the syrupy frozen drinks directly to the chain.

With over 14 million sold per month, the Slurpee is the most popular beverage associated with 7-Eleven. Slurpees remain so beloved that people are willing to fill rice cookers with the brain-freeze-inducing beverage.

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BRAAAIIINNN FREEEZZEEEE Photo: Austin Kirk

Is it a franchise or a just a chain?

7-Eleven is the (relatively) easiest franchise to purchase from a major chain. Up until the 2008 recession, 7-Eleven franchises were first class tickets to the American Dream for thousands of Southeast Asian immigrants. Today, 7-Eleven is one of the largest franchise companies in the world with over 56,000 stores in 18 countries. For reference, McDonald’s has a measly 35,000 restaurants worldwide.

Who signs the checks?

In order to save 7-Eleven from its second bankruptcy (still less than Donald Trump and the first occurred after The Great Depression), the Japanese company Seven & I Holdings acquired 7-Eleven. The move underscores Japan’s unparalleled love for 7-Eleven stores, one-third of which are densely packed throughout the small country.

7 Facts You Can’t Un-know

  • An unsettling, Illuminati-esque 666,000 pounds of glaze are used each month on 7-Eleven’s donuts, fritters, and other pastries.
  • If you watch the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, a 7-Eleven will have opened during the credits of each film.
  • 7-Eleven has the largest ATM network of any US retailer.
  • Most Slurpees are certified kosher because everyone should be able to enjoy their diabetes-inducing satisfaction.
  • In 1949, 7-Eleven’s made convenience store history with its punny commercial which featured the tagline “You Auto Know.” Unfortunately for them, Alanis Morissette hadn’t been born yet.
  • For 20 years, 7-Eleven has been giving American police departments millions of Slurpee coupons to dole out to upstanding youths during the summer.
  • One out of four of you are within a mile of a 7-Eleven.

Go now! Or whenever. It’ll always be open.

By J. Fergus

J. is an overbearing pizza snob who loves putting as much sugar as possible in cupcakes and coffee. They eagerly awaits diabetes.

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