Wawa is celebrating its 50th anniversary Wednesday with a freebie: free coffee all day for customers. Creative Commons

East Coast-based gasoline and convenience chain Wawa is giving away free coffee to customers at all of its stores on Wednesday in honor of its 50th anniversary.

Customers can celebrate the store’s semicentennial anniversary with a free cup of coffee. The freebie is available in any size for 24 hours on April 16. The convenience store expects to give away more than 1 million cups of coffee.

“On the occasion of our 50th, we wanted to raise our cups to our customers and say ‘thanks a million,’ by giving away more than a million cups of their everyday-starter,” Wawa President and CEO Chris Gheysens said. “At Wawa our coffee is one of [our] most beloved and popular products, and this giveaway is one small way we can recognize our customers for all they have done to help us reach this incredible milestone.”

The first Wawa convenience store opened in Folsom, Pa., which is considered part of suburban Philadelphia, on April 16, 1964. Today, Wawa has more than 640 locations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida, and at least 365 of them sell gasoline, too, according to its corporate website.

According to the website, "'Wawa' is a Native American word for the Canada Goose that was found in the Delaware Valley over 100 years ago." The company traces its history to an iron foundry that was built in 1803 in New Jersey and, after its owners took to dairy farming, it began a small processing plant in Wawa, Pa., in 1902. When the milk delivery business declined in the 1960s, the company opened its first convenience store as a dairy product outlet in Folsom.

To mark the occasion in Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter will proclaim the day "Wawa Day,” the Morning Call reported.

WJLA said the company's chief executive plans to re-enact the first transaction at the Folsom shop. Employees will join in the celebration by wearing vintage uniforms, and the store will display historical signs and photos.

To mark the occasion, Wawa announced that it will launch a nonprofit foundation to benefit "health, hunger and everyday heroes." The foundation plans to raise $50 million over the next five years.

A book by Wawa Vice Chairman Howard Stoeckel titled "The Wawa Way, How a Funny Name and Six Core Values Revolutionized Convenience" will go on sale Wednesday in tandem with the anniversary celebration.