According to a new marketing report, Wawa is the second most-beloved convenience store chain in the United States. It finished second in the rankings, behind QuikTrip. The Tulsa-based chain operates in the Midwest and South.
Before even getting into the data, let’s note what complete B.S. this is without even knowing anything about QuikTrip. If there’s one thing people in the Philadelphia area do well, it’s gush about Wawa. Does the Midwest’s equivalent of Johnny Knoxville have a QuikTrip tattoo? Did five women visit every QuikTrip and blog about it? Do robbers dress up in QuickTrip employee t-shirts and steal cigarettes? Did I write a piece on 50 cool things about QuikTrip? Was Christine Speer Lejune interviewed for this survey?
Maybe Floridians haven’t figured out Wawa’s greatness yet and gave it lower marks. It’s the only possible explanation.
This morning, a Far Northeast Philadelphia Wawa was robbed for the second time in less than a month by a man with a knife. Police say the man who robbed the Wawa at Knights Rd. and Clarendon Ave. got away with an unidentified amount of cash.
The same Wawa, which is across the street from Far Northeast Philly’s tony Crestmont Farms section, was robbed on July 14th by a man wielding a knife. Police later charged Mark J. Beaver with that crime. In that crime, cops say Beaver handed the clerk a $1 bill, then brandished a knife after the register opened. He reached into the register and escaped with cash.
Okay, that’s not true. Though the Greater Philadelphia area is taking this harder than James Garner’s death (RIP, Rockford), I doubt there’ll be a candlelight vigil — but note my use of the word “doubt,” because the region’s love for Wawa is (some would say irrationally) fierce.
It’s the front page of the Delaware County Daily Times, headline blaring: “1…and Done” and “End of the line for historic Wawa store.” To which I reply: WHERE WAS THE PRESERVATION ALLIANCE ON THIS? Working on the Boyd and the Blue Horizon? Priorities, people!
Barbara Ormsby, reporting for the Delco Daily Times, strikes a wistful note: “The Wawa on MacDade Boulevard and Swarthmore Avenue — the company’s very first convenience store that opened 50 years ago — will soon be gone, but won’t be forgotten.”
A few weeks back, as my hubby and I were headed down the Shore, we made our ritual pitstop at a Wawa in the middle of New Jersey (That one at the end of 55? Where 47 and 347 split? Anyone?) for a few pick-me-up road trip snacks.
Chris scurried off to get his haul while I stood in the middle of the store looking around blankly. It occurred to me, not for the first time: What in the world can I eat here that won’t leave me with heaps of guilt afterwards? “I need to do a post on this,” I said, actually out loud, to no one in particular.
And so here we are, two weeks later, with the completed post in question. It came together thusly: I called my pal Jessica Procini, a Philly-based health coach whom you may have met at Be Well Philly Boot Camp. She was the one who wrote that awesome What to Get in Trader Joe’s Frozen Food Aisle post earlier this year, so I knew she’d be up for another food-shopping project. Last Friday, she and I trotted off to the 17th and Arch Street Wawa location to see what we could find.
While there are many in the city of Philadelphia who believe the city could use a second casino — a worker at a pizza shop I frequent said SugarHouse is “probably the smartest thing the city’s ever done” the other day — others say the city doesn’t even need one casino and certainly not a second. Hmm, who to trust? Hey, how about a racetrack casino in Chester!
Harrah’s Chester has come out in opposition to a second casino in the city. One can make the obvious inference that, well, a new casino would take away from their business at Harrah’s Philadelphia (which, like the Philadelphia Union soccer team, is in Chester). To be fair: While Harrah’s was involved in 2010 in a partnership to build and open the stalled Foxwoods casino, it didn’t bid in 2012 when the process was reopened.
First, there’s the name. Wawa. A word that sounds like nonsense. Like baby talk. Like a sad trombone. Wah-wah.
Thinking, I guess, that I’m not originally from here and thus a little ignorant about such things, the Wawa lover will generally inform me, tone pious, that “wawa” is the Ojibwe word for the Canadian goose in the company’s logo.
I mean no disrespect to the tribe — neither the Ojibwe nor the Philadelphian — but no amount of etymology can change the fact that seven years into my Philly life, I’m still mortified to utter the phrase, “We’re going to Wawa for a Sizzli.”
My husband, a Philly native, will drive us 10 miles out of our way on road trips, past BPs, 7-Elevens, Sunocos, Dunkins and countless other pit stops, in order to hit up a Wawa for that Sizzli. Or, more often, for the coffee, which he swears is the best road coffee money can buy. The dark roast is above par, but it’s still just coffee. When a gallon of gas costs three times as much as the coffee you’re driving to fetch and the convenience chain of choice has closed so many city outposts that a soul can hardly even call it convenient, it’s time to question such devotion.
[Photo: Google Maps]