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Published: Jul 09, 2014 4 min read
Actress Ashley Benson of ABC's hit TV show  Pretty Little Liars  takes ceremonial first slurpee sip
Actress Ashley Benson of ABC's show "Pretty Little Liars" takes ceremonial first Slurpee sip during last summer's 7-Eleven promotions.
Jonathan Leibson—Getty Images for 7-Eleven

In what has become a wildly popular annual tradition, July 11 is celebrated as 7-Eleven Day by the convenience store giant. The average customer probably refers to the day as something different, though: Free Slurpee Day. On that day, all customers are entitled to a free Slurpee, no coupon or loyalty program membership required.

Last year, when 7-Eleven increased the size of free Slurpees from 7.11 ounces to a regular Small (12 ounces), something like 7 million free Slurpees were slurped by customers. Even more are expected this year, when 7-Eleven has upped its game again, transforming its ordinary one-day giveaway into eight days in a row of freebies.

While 7-Eleven Day works like normal—anyone who shows up from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. gets a free Slurpee—the rest of the freebies require the download of a 7-Eleven app. Do so and show your smartphone screen to a 7-Eleven clerk on the appropriate day for these freebies:

Saturday, July 12: Big Gulp
Sunday, July 13: M&M's Birthday Cake Flavor Candies
Monday, July 14: Grandma's Cookies
Tuesday, July 15: Twinkies
Wednesday, July 16: Snickers or Twix Ice Cream Bar
Thursday, July 17: Quaker Chewy Yogurt Snack Bar
Friday, July 18: Pillsbury Cookie
Saturday, July 19: Small Slurpee

That's a lot of freebies.

Why does 7-Eleven do it? One reason is that giveaways are good for business. When a consumer is handed something for free, it generates good will—and a sense of obligation to want to pay that nicety back in some form. So when a customer gets a free sample at a supermarket, he's more likely to buy whatever it is he tasted, or at least to buy a little something extra. When the sample is little in size, there's also a tendency to want a little more.

That's why, historically, the day that 7-Eleven hands out free Slurpees is also usually a huge day for sales of Slurpees, as well as sales of other items. And what goes well with Slurpees?

As company executives explained to USA Today, stores will be pushing "Big Bite hot dogs for $1 on Friday (usually $1.99) to wash down with the free Slurpees." The new Doritos Loaded cheese sticks, unleashed on the public in early July, will probably also be big sellers.

The requirement to download an app also makes a lot of sense for 7-Eleven. In today's noisy, ad-splashed world, brands and retailers love the idea of having such a direct connection—and sales path—to consumers. But it's gotten harder and harder to convince consumers they should download yet another app, especially one that's going to spam them with news and promotions they don't necessarily want. Few are going to download an app for, say, a measly 50¢ discount.

But a whole week of freebies? A lot of folks will say: Sign me up.