Fort Worth

On a budget? Today’s free Slurpee day

July 11 or 7/11 is National Slurpee Day.
July 11 or 7/11 is National Slurpee Day. Handout

Anyone headed to 7-Eleven today for lotto tickets or a pack of cigarettes beware — there will probably be a horde of Slurpee lovers in the store to greet you.

In what’s become an annual rite of summer just like the Major League All-Star game, July 11 is National 7-Eleven Day. From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., anyone can get a free small Slurpee at the closest outpost of the convenience store.

The Star-Telegram archives said the frosty treat started out as a small-town Oklahoma businessman’s attempt to increase business at his ice-cream store. The man invented a machine that dispensed a slush of sugar syrup, carbon dioxide and water and 7-Eleven perfected its own version in Dallas.

By the end of 1966, every 7-Eleven had a Slurpee machine, and the drink went national in 1967 with a huge marketing blitz.

Slurpees were also the inspiration for the frozen margarita. Restaurateur Mariano Martinez was inspired to come up with the frozen margarita after studying a Slurpee machine. He adapted a SaniServe ice cream dispenser, according to the Star-Telegram archives.

The original Old Town location in Dallas is long gone but there’s still Mariano's Hacienda Mexican Restaurant in Arlington and La Hacienda Ranch in Colleyville. The original frozen margarita machine was shipped to the Smithsonian.

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @fwhanna