July 11, 2019: Today is Free Slurpee Day at 7-Eleven!

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A Brief History

On July 11, 2019, the annual frozen drink concoction promotion held by convenience store chain 7-Eleven is celebrated by giving away a free Slurpee to customers.  Available in many flavors, the mushy ice drink was “invented” by accident back in the 1950’s, originally given the name “Icee.”  No matter what you call them, the slushy, icy, sweet drinks are more than a bit popular, with about 7.3 million gallons of the sugary cold drinks sold each year!

Digging Deeper

Free Slurpee day first started in 2002, and has been celebrated on each July 11th ever since.  (The date is abbreviated as “7-11” or “7/11,” get it?)  Unfortunately, the free Slurpee is only the 12 ounce size and customers looking for a freebie have to go to their local 7-11 between the hours of 11 am and 7 pm on the special day.

Two large Slurpees.  Photograph by Nehrams2020 at English Wikipedia.

Aside from being delicious and incredibly refreshing, Slurpees are infamous for causing the phenomenon known colloquially as “brain freeze.”  In fact, 7-Eleven actually trademarked the term, “brain freeze!”  Scientifically called “sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia,” or simply SPG, and also known as “ice cream headache,” the ingestion of extremely cold food or drink can trigger the painful effect that became known as “brain freeze,” a sudden and sharp shooting pain in the head, often through an eye.  Typical duration of brain freeze is only a few seconds, though the pain can sometimes last several minutes.  Intensity and exact manner of pain varies.  To prevent brain freeze, either avoid very cold items or eat/drink them slowly.

Slurpees are so popular that they have spawned a rock and roll song in 1967 (“Dance the Slurp / The Strange Things (That Happen to the People Who Slurp at 7-Eleven)”) and Slurpee bubble gum, as well as dual flavor Slurpees.  The ice cold treat is also responsible for the invention of the “spoon straw,” a plastic drinking straw with a small spoon-like appendage on the bottom for scooping up the last little bits of slush from your cup.

A Coca-Cola “Brain Freeze” Slurpee.  Photograph by User:Alexsh.

A previous 7-Eleven Slurpee promotion called “Bring your own cup” allowed customers to bring their own drinking vessel and fill it up at the Slurpee dispenser for a flat rate of $1.50.  Customers ruined this promotion by showing up with ridiculously large containers such as pails and fish tanks!  An enterprising customer is reported to have shown up with an inflatable swimming pool.  (Note:  People can ruin anything.  They will find a way…)

Question for Students (and others): What is your favorite flavor of Slurpee?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

A Slurpee machine with 2 flavour barrels in a 7-Eleven store in Taiwan.  Photograph by Guen De Wang.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Ortege, Shelby. Wine Slushies: Delicious Fruity Frozen Wine Slushie Recipes For The Perfect Summer! CreateSpace, 2018.

Parker, Phillip. The 2020-2025 World Outlook for Combination Ice Makers and Ice-Drink Dispensers. ICON Group International, Inc., 2019.

The featured image in this article, a photograph by Willis Lam of a 7-Eleven Big Bite and Jarritos Mandarin Slurpee on 11 July 2018, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.  This image was originally posted to Flickr by Pest15 at https://flickr.com/photos/85567416@N03/43349337951. It was reviewed on  by FlickreviewR 2 and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-sa-2.0.

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About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.