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LI named birthplace of to-go coffee

A 7-Eleven convenience store along William Floyd Parkway

A 7-Eleven convenience store along William Floyd Parkway in Shirley where the manager learned about his employees for "Undercover Boss." (Feb. 2, 2010) Photo Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin, 2010

Long Island, famed for several major contributions to the American way of life, birthplace of aviation, of Levittown-style suburbs and of the credit card, now has a new claim on another first: -- the to-go cup of coffee.

No less an authority than 7-Eleven Inc. says so.

As 7-Eleven gets ready to celebrate National Coffee Day on Thursday, by giving away free medium-size cups of the brew from 7 to 11 a.m. at all its stores, one of its executives disclosed that the company chose Long Island, in 1964, as the testing ground for then-speculative idea that Americans might buy to-go coffee from a retail shop.

"National Coffee Day is an opportunity to showcase 7-Eleven's long history in providing coffee on the go," Nancy Smith, 7-Eleven's marketing vice president, said Monday in a nationwide news announcement.

"In fact, 7-Eleven was the first retailer to offer coffee in to-go cups back in 1964 on Long Island," she said. The chain now retails about a million cups a day, she said.

7 Eleven isn't claiming credit for serving the first-ever cup of to-go coffee, which had previously been available from restaurants and diners. Its claim focuses, rather, on non-restaurant retail shops.

A company spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment Monday on which communities on Long Island were part of the original to-go test. 

By the way, the first bank credit card was offered by the now-defunct Franklin National Bank, in Franklin Square, under longtime president Arthur Roth, who also -- according to local historians -- was the first banker to provide customers with a parking lot, and with a walk-up banking services window.

Photo: A Shirley 7-Eleven featured on the reality TV series "Undercover Boss."


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