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In 1990 7-11 Commandeered The Term “Brain Freeze” Linking It To The Slurpee

On July 11th, one convenience chain celebrates with specials on National 7-Eleven Day! Conveniently scheduled on 7-11 of each year, the day often features one of their signature items, the Slurpee.

The day focuses on franchise customers. The chain offers discounts and often free Slurpees in their many flavors. Since July is known for its summer heat, the icy cold beverage is a popular choice for cooling off all summer long.

7-Eleven first celebrated 7-Eleven Day in 2002. They encouraged customers to visit their local 7-Eleven to enjoy a free beverage as a thank you to the 7-Eleven customers. The company, which is considered the first convenience store which started in 1927 under the name of Southland Ice Company with the logo Totem, because people could conveniently “tote ’em” home their items. It wasn’t until 1947 when the company expanded its hours to from 7 AM to 11 PM that it changed its name.

  • The Slurpee debuted in 1966. While the machine already existed, 7-Eleven modified the machine made by Knedlik, which was used to make the Icee, and then branded and licensed the frozen drink under the name Slurpee.
  • Advertising executive, Bob Stanford, gave the sweet, icy drink the name for the sound it makes as it is sucked through a straw.
  • The term brain freeze existed before 7-Eleven commandeered it in 1991 to replace ice cream headache or the more technical cold stimulus headache.
  • In 1990, brain freeze was often used as a sports term to refer to athletes who faltered on the field. It also applied to the side effects of medications, especially if they affected our mental capacity.
  • However, immediately after 7-Eleven supposedly redefined the phrase, sports columnists quickly reused the phrase to their benefit. Athletes still had a brain freeze when they made an error, but the columnists cleverly explained the player must have had a Slurpee before taking the field.
  • Brain Freeze Tips:  Of course, brain freeze is inevitable if you drink a frozen beverage too fast. In preparation for the day, we offer a few tips.
    • Put down the drink.
    • Sip from a warmer liquid.
    • If a warmer liquid isn’t available, press your tongue against the roof of your mouth.
    • Cover your mouth and nose with your hand.
    • Breath through your nose. This allows warmer air to circulate through your sinus passages.
    • Return to drinking your Slurpee at a slower pace.
  • There used to be a dual-chambered Slurpee. This was introduced for the 45th anniversary of the product in 2011. This machine enabled customers to select two flavors, dispensing them into the one cup. Customers could insert a dual-piped straw as well. This meant they could enjoy a mixed drink. Which flavors would you love to mix together?
  • Kennewick, Washington, is an area deemed the Slurpee King of the world! This is a crown that was given in the 2007-2008 period because more Slurpees were dispensed at Kennewick than anywhere else in the world! You may be wondering why this was the case. Well, a wall full of Slurpee machines was installed so that the nearby high school football team could get their fix! The owner of the store, Don Mariotto, said he had to double his supply of barrels in order to keep up with the demand. After a hot summer’s day and plenty of practice on the field, a Slurpee was the perfect treat!
  • Some of the Slurpee cups were created from waveforms of mating whales. Yes, you did read that correctly! In 2015, in Australia, 7-Eleven recorded a number of radio spots for a promotional stunt. These featured screaming soccer fans and whales mating. The visual representations of these noises, which are known as waveforms, were used to create a number of special 3D-printed cups that customers could get in-store. There was also the option of printing them at home. However, we’re not sure that many people would have had a 3D printer to do so!
  • The most popular flavors are, Coca-Cola and Wild Cherry! There are 34 other flavors sold in America depending on the store location, including dragon fruit, watermelon, and sour green apple. Around the globe, flavors tend to get a bit more adventurous. In Canada, for example, you’ll find bubblegum and cappuccino; Australian options include ginger beer, honeydew melon, watermelon-lime, and fruit salad.
  • The Slurpee has its own album.  In 1970, 7-Eleven released a vinyl record with two songs written just for the Slurpee. The first side featured a song titled “Dance the Slurp.” The other side had a short comedy act discussing how “strange things” happen to people who “slurp” at 7-Eleven. The record was given away with a purchase. Nearly 30 years later, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist sampled the song “Dance the Slurp” for their Brainfreeze mix album in 1999. The song includes the lyric: “slurp-slurrrppp” to imitate the signature sound.
  • Since 7-Eleven introduced the Slurpee in 1966, around 7.2 billion Slurpee drinks have been purchased—enough for everyone on earth. Today, 7-Eleven customers consume about 14 million Slurpees a month on average; 19 countries serve them.
  • According to market research, 41 percent of Slurpee drinkers never mix their flavors. But 37 percent say they always do, while the remaining 21 percent will mix every once in a while. But what exactly are they mixing? One of the most popular combos is Coke and a fruit flavor on top, like Wild Cherry or Piña Colada.
  • It inspired the frozen margarita. Dallas restaurant owner and inventor of the frozen margarita machine, Mariano Martinez, cited the Slurpee as his original inspiration. Taco Tuesday has never been the same.


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