The gold standard of convenience stores, 7-Eleven has become a huge part of our urban landscape and a go-to shop for so many items: Slurpees, snacks, even coffee. But, there are still probably a lot of things you may not know about the chain. Like, did you know you could actually pay your taxes at your local 7-Eleven? But before you head off to give Uncle Sam what he’s owed, you owe it to yourself to find out the Top 10 Untold Truths Of 7-Eleven.
10. 7-Eleven Sells A Whole Lotta Pizza
When 7-Eleven began their big marketing campaign to promote their pizza delivery service a few years ago, there were obviously several people questioning the move. Why would 7-Eleven put so much effort into this already saturated market and go up against big-time players who’ve been in the game way longer? Well, the reason is simple; 7-Eleven already sells a ton of pizza. Really. Like a lot of pizza. So much in fact that the convenience store chain serves up 20 million pizzas a year, which makes them the second largest whole-pizza retailer in the entire country! Ahead of Dominos, Little Caesars, etc, and only behind Pizza Hut! A pretty impressive statistic given all the competition and especially since pizza isn’t remotely the first, second, or even third thing that comes to mind when you think about 7-Eleven. If you’ve had a 7-Eleven pizza slice in the past, it’s all well and good, but it might be smart to avoid getting it in the store from now on. A former employee of the chain posted on Reddit: saying that “the nastiest thing to eat is definitely the pizza by the slice.” And since it is not the first thing that comes to your mind, it is certainly not 7-Eleven’s first priority either. Employees are told to keep the slices in the heat box for almost 4 hours, while they should only be there for about an hour – max. So, if you want to keep enjoying their pizza, maybe consider delivery of a full pie next time to avoid these end-of-life-cardboard-tasting slices!
9. The Name Was Different For The First 19 Years
It was in 1927 that Joe Thompson had the idea to start selling essentials such as bread, milk, and eggs from one of the ice company locations he worked at in Dallas, Texas. People really liked the fact that they could just grab a few must-haves without having to go and deal with crowds at local grocery stores. Feeling like he was on to something big, Joe bought the ice company and started opening more convenience store locations around the city (and bonus – the items stayed cold because of all the ice, of course.) One day an executive brought a totem pole back with him from a trip to Alaska and put it up in front of one of the busiest locations – which ended up garnering the location the nickname, “Tote’m Store.” (the name had a double meaning, also referring to the customers who would “tote” away their purchases). The company soon made the name official across all of their stores and even decorated using an Inuit-theme. It wasn’t until 1946 that the name was changed, this time to 7-Eleven. The name came from their new store hours. They changed their operating hours to 7am to 11pm in order to take advantage of the economic boom that arose post World War II. Today, most 7-Eleven are open 24/7. Maybe it’s time for a name change again?
8. Some 7-Eleven Sushi Anyone?
Yes, it’s true if you haven’t been to a 7-Eleven in a while, you might not be aware of it, but the chain does sell Sushi in their stores. We guess it’s not that surprising since you can find Sushi almost everywhere these days, from grocery stores to gas stations. But, just because it’s more commonly found, does not mean you should eat it. Or if you do decide to eat it, you probably shouldn’t expect it to be any good. Now, while we haven’t tried it personally, Sushi chef, Yoya Takahashi, taste-tested cheap sushi from a number of different places, and he gave 7-Eleven sushi a one out of five! That’s the bad news. The good news is that, according to Takahashi, it’s not the worst cheap sushi out there. That honor goes to the Sushi from Trader Joe’s. But honestly, if you want sushi, why would you go to a 7-Eleven in the first place? The only reasonable scenario would be if you went to the store for a Slurpee or some aspirin and just happened to see the Sushi sitting there, and thought: “huh, that’s new,” and feel obligated to buy because you’re just a curious cat. A Sushi buying impulse seems like the only possible explanation for the actual sales numbers. Or maybe you’re just a sucker for bad Sushi!
7. They’re Environmentally Conscious (Or Trying To Be)
Considering how many stores there are and how many people pass through every day, it’s safe to say that there’s quite a bit of waste produced from 7-Eleven outlets. Well, in an effort to curb said waste – at least a little bit – Australian 7-Eleven stores started a cup recycling program that could help to keep as many as 70 million cups out of landfills every year. The 7-Eleven coffee and Slurpee cups have a waterproof lining which prevents them from being recycled by standard recycling facilities. These Aussi stores have put bins outside their locations to collect the cups – which will then have the lining removed and then sent along to recycling. Now, the only problem with this is the location of those bins. Most people won’t stick around the store to finish their drinks, making the purpose of this whole program kind of obsolete. The only way for it to work would be if you’d hold on to your cup until you find another 7-Eleven and dispose of it then. We know the stores are pretty common, but still, it’s not the most convenient way to ensure recycling. In the United States, some of the locations are planting a tree whenever someone fills up their gas tank and investing in carbon-reducing projects. While more could be done by the company, their attempt at being a little more conscious of the environmental impact they have on the planet is still greatly appreciated, and who knows, maybe one day, it’ll actually come to something!
6. 7-Eleven Has More Locations Than McDonald’s and Starbucks Combined
There’s this classic joke about being in a Starbucks and looking out the window to see another Starbucks right across the street, with yet another Starbucks on the opposite corner. Basically a running gag about how many Starbucks can be in the same radius of each other. It’s a pretty accurate scene given how my stores the coffee chain has, but it’s nothing compared to how high 7-Eleven can fly. As of December 2019, 7-Eleven had over 70,000 locations. To put that in perspective, Starbucks had about 30,000 at the time and McDonald’s was sitting at around 38,700. That’s right, even by combining Starbucks and McDonald’s restaurants, the total would still come in under the number of 7-Eleven locations. The convenience store chain is still growing at a ridiculously fast pace, opening a new store somewhere in the world about every two hours or so. Another cool fact about 7-Eleven: the country with the most locations isn’t the United States (as probably most people would’ve assumed). In fact, the United States, with about 8,000 stores, only comes in third on the list, just ahead of South Korea (over 7,000) but behind Thailand (more than 11,000) and Japan (with more than 20,000 locations). So basically, whether you’re craving a Slurpee or a Venti Frappuccino, you’re probably never more than few steps away from getting one.
5. Slurpee Sales Are King
You can’t talk about 7-Eleven without talking about the Slurpee. It is without a doubt the most iconic item at 7-Eleven and it should come as no surprise to learn that it’s one of the chain’s best-sellers. Recent numbers show that the chain sells around 14 million Slurpees every month and has sold over 7 billion since their introduction in 1966. And if you were wondering what the difference is between a Slurpee and an Icee, the answer is… just the name! 7-Eleven did a trial with 100 Icee machines in their stores back in 1965 and it did so well that they signed a licensing agreement with the Icee company the very next year! The agreement came with two conditions: 7-Eleven had to sell the Icee under a different name, (to avoid Icee and Slurpee butting heads over distribution rights) and could only sell them in the United States. While almost everyone is a fan of Slurpees, there are some places that might just like them a bit more than anybody else. Michigan, for example, is the home of 8 of the top 10 best Slurpee-selling stores. However, the Canadian province of Manitoba, was crowned the Slurpee Capital of the World for the 20th year in a row! The people of Winnipeg obviously really love their Sulpees. This seems kind of odd since Winnipeg is definitely not the warmest place in North America – so what gives?
When the Simpsons Movie was released back in 2007, it was surrounded by a huge marketing campaign and lots of tie-ins, and 7-Eleven was one of the companies to get in the action. They went ahead and converted some of their locations to Kwik-E-Mart stores (the iconic convenience store from the Simpson’s town of Springfield). The conversions set the company back about $10 million dollars and involved changing the signage and even adding products that would most likely be found in Apu’s store. Buzz Cola, Krusty-O’s cereal and even Radioactive Man comic books were all available at the rebranded Kwik-E-Mart locals. One famous Simpson’s product sadly not available at these new stores was Duff Beer. The reason given for the lack of Homer’s favorite brew was the movie’s PG-13 rating. Funny enough though, 7-Eleven sells beer in their stores regularly, so that logic sounds a little contradictory. But, they did have Duff energy drinks (because hopping kids up on whatever chemicals and energizers they put in those things is apparently less of a problem). If you weren’t lucky enough to visit one of the converted locations, 7-eleven still made some Simpsons merch available in all their stores – including their very special Woo-Hoo Blue Vanilla Slurpee – with collectible straw of course.
3. 7-Eleven Around The World
While we’re all pretty much aware that North American chains don’t always look the same in other countries, the variances in 7-Eleven outlets are sure to surprise many. For people living in the United States or Canada, local 7-Elevens aren’t exactly seen as a cool, hip place to hang out, but in Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, they’re the next best thing! The stores have wifi, tables and chairs and often offer live music performances. People generally go there to hang out with friends and eat local cuisine (sounds more like a trendy coffee shop than a convenience store.) In Taiwan, the chain is so popular that people can go to the stores to pay their bills, book travel arrangements and even pay their property taxes and parking tickets. In the capital city, Taipei, there are over 4000 locations and it is very common to see multiple locations on the same block. The government of Taiwan even used 7-Eleven locations as hubs to set up special programs like health screenings. It would probably be faster to list what you can’t get or do at a Taiwanese 7-Eleven! You thought your store was the best, well, can you say that you’ve booked your next trip around the world there? That’s what I thought.
2. Want Caffeine? Have a 7-Eleven Coffee
When you’re in need of a coffee, your first thought is probably to stop at a Starbucks, McDonald’s or even Dunkin’. But your local 7-Eleven? Probably not first on your list. But if you’re truly in search of that sweet caffeine hit, then you can definitely consider it for your next stop. An online publication actually did some lab tests on coffee from all four of the popular java joints and the results showed that 7-Eleven coffee had the highest average caffeine levels out of all of the tested coffee cups, both in New York and San Francisco. And while they are topping the charts for caffeine, many people can vouch for the fact that the coffee isn’t bad at all. In fact, in a blind taste done in British Columbia in 2018, 7-Eleven’s coffee came in second place among all the coffee tested – losing to a local artisanal coffee roaster – and was also voted the best affordable choice. 7-Eleven isn’t just for Big Gulps and Slurpees anymore. So, give your taste buds a boost and give the 7-Eleven coffee a chance!
1. “Brain Freeze”
The term brain freeze is one that everyone knows and it’s been part of the pop culture lexicon for decades. But even if we all use it frequently, do any of us actually know who came up with it? Well, it was actually 7-Eleven. In 1967 the company came up with the “Slurpee” name because it described the sound made while drinking the slushy goodness through a straw. However, while the Slurpee was most definitely giving people brain freeze right from the start, it wasn’t until 1991 that the company actually coined the term to describe the wonderful pain that came with drinking one of their delicious Slurpees. The term did exist prior to 1991 – 7-Eleven didn’t invent the combination of the words per se, but before they used it, the term “brain freeze” was actually used in sports when a player would make a silly mistake. Once 7-Eleven “coined” the term, they ended up getting some fun, free, and unintended advertising from the sports world. The sports writers didn’t stop using “brain freeze” when talking about a player messing up – but they would also usually mention how the player probably had a Slurpee before the game, introducing the famous frozen drink to every sports fanatic out there!