7-Eleven's origins date back to 1927, when an employee of the Southland Ice Company in Dallas, Texas, began selling milk, bread and eggs in addition to the ice blocks. That employee, Joe C. Thompson, eventually bought the Southland Ice Company, turned it into the Southland Corporation, and began opening convenience stores. The first stores went by the name Tote'm, since customers "toted" away their purchases, but in 1946, when the stores' hours were extended--from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.--they got a new name.
Although 7-Eleven stores are now open 24 hours a day, the name stuck. Today, 7-Eleven Inc. has over 30,000 stores across the U.S. and around the world.
7-Eleven is ranked #4 on Entrepreneur's 2013 Franchise 500® listing.