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DALLAS -- A morning staple is turning 50 and one retail giant is celebrating the milestone.
7-Eleven Inc. became the first national retailer to offer fresh-brewed coffee in to-go cups 50 years ago. To mark the occasion, the Dallas-based convenience store chain is offering a small-size coffee for 50 cents at participating stores from Sept. 3 through Sept. 14.
The retailer is also kicking off an "Every 7th Cup Free" coffee rewards program through its 7-Eleven mobile app.
To participate in 7-Eleven's new coffee loyalty program, customers need to download the app in the iTunes App Store or Google Play and register as a member. Texting "BREW" to 711711 will also send a link to download. Clicking the dollar icon at the top of the app's home screen takes the member to the coupon page, where his or her personal bar code and digital coffee punch card reside.
Every time a customer purchases any size cup of coffee, the cashier will scan the member's bar code in the app, which will automatically punch the digital rewards card. Each purchase earns a punch that shows up as a star icon in the app. After receiving six punches -- or stars -- a coupon for a free medium coffee will appear in the app. The punch card process starts over once the free coffee coupon is redeemed.
7-Eleven will support the "Buy Six, Get Seventh Free" coffee rewards promotion with social media, paid digital media, plus television and radio advertising in select markets.
"You've heard of a baker's dozen, 13 for the price of 12," said Nancy Smith, senior vice president of fresh foods and proprietary beverages. "Consider this a brewer's half-dozen, seven cups of coffee for the price of six. Many of our coffee customers are regulars, so they could earn a free medium cup as often as once a week, or more if they come in more than once a day. This offer is actually more generous than a baker's dozen -- 14 cups for the price of 12."
According to the retailer, 7-Eleven's relationship with the cup of coffee dates back to 1964 when a new 7-Eleven franchisee, looking for creative, everyday conveniences to offer his customers, began selling coffee by the cup in his Long Island store.
The test proved popular and by the late 1960s, all U.S. 7-Eleven stores were in the coffee business. Today, 7-Eleven sells more than 1 million cups each day, and coffee consistently scores as the top-selling, self-serve beverage at 7-Eleven stores. All coffee blends are made from 100-percent Arabica beans and custom-roasted for 7-Eleven.
"I'm not sure people realize that 7-Eleven was the first company in the U.S. to sell coffee to go, or that today we rank fourth in fresh-brewed coffee sales in the U.S.," Smith said. "Since we began offering fresh-brewed coffee 50 years ago, it has been one of our customers' favorite items. So, we want to celebrate 50 years by saying 'thank you' to our millions of 7-Eleven coffee-lovers."
For the month of September, 7-Eleven stores are offering Pumpkin Spice Coffee, along with a Pumpkin Spice Latte International Delight creamer and syrup.
7-Eleven Inc. operates, franchises or licenses more than 10,300 7-Eleven stores in North America.