What Happened to the Wawa Hoagie?

One of our city’s most famous sandwich spots can't make a half-decent sandwich anymore.
hoagiewawa

A mess of an Italian hoagie.

Wawa, as beloved and iconic and convenient as it is, can’t make a sandwich to save its life these days. Not that it has to; Wawa is, after all, a supreme power ’round these parts. But considering that hoagies are a cornerstone of the brand, shouldn’t they at least be decent?

I’m tired of the plume of lettuce confetti you get after unleashing the ugly beast from its haphazard wrap-job. I’m tired of slimy meats and droopy white tomatoes sadly jutting out from the muddle like the fin of a Seaworld orca. The mindless gobbing of mayonnaise, paying no heed to your order’s screen-prompted specifications, is borderline offensive. “A little mayo”? Ha! Here at Wawa, we dunk your sandwich in mayonnaise like it’s a French dip.

And they’re wet. Wet hoagies. Not juicy — that’s different. Wawa hoagies are wet.

Wawa/Official

Advertised Italian hoagie

I’ve been to stores all over the Philly metro area — uniformly bad. And, yeah, I could forgive the weak hoagie in that Virginia Wawa I once stopped at, but in South Philly? The hoagie epicenter of the world? How could you!

The sad part is that there was once a time when their hoagies were just fine. Long before they starting pumping out cheesesteaks (?!), quesadillas, and burritos, Wawa had a selection of perfectly acceptable sandwiches, which was its allure for so many years: How could what amounts to a souped-up 7-Eleven offer such quality product?

Now, not so much. I blame Florida.

We Philadelphians are accustomed to a higher standard of living, at least when it comes to sandwiches. We’ve got some of the best things-stuffed-in-bread on the East Coast, so why do we choose to live like this, happily mushing soggy bread stuffed with all-things-ugly into our faces like it’s something to be proud of? We’ve got hundreds of little mom-and-pop shops — sandwich experts — happily awaiting our patronage, but we’re opting for Wawa’s nonsense instead because why? Because it’s close by? Because it’s Wawa, and Wawa can do no wrong?

Well, Wawa’s Italian hoagie is wrong. My meatball hoagie was wrong. Go to literally any other hoagie shop in the city with a person’s name on the sign (Carmen’s, Cosmi’s, Ricci’s, Primo is so good it doesn’t even need the apostrophe) and you’ll leave smitten because they know what’s up. They know that there’s something so utterly satisfying about a well-made hoagie, and they’re happy to show off their good work. We haven’t been able to rely on Wawa to give us that same sort of pleasure. They just fill us up like they do our cars, because what is Wawa anymore but a gas station — an efficient one, yes — for humans and motor vehicles.

So I’m sticking with the shops that actually care, and I implore you to do the same. Their sandwiches are far superior to some of the indecencies spewing out from the Wawa line. And for all of you Wawadelphians, you Wawa-faithful, know this: There are better hoagies to be had in Philly, and many of them are roughly the same price and distance away as your nearest Wawa.

Philly, Just Get Over Wawa Already [Philly Mag]