Point-Counterpoint: Wonderful Wawa

By Neena Hagen, Assistant Opinions Editor

This is one part of a two-part series about Pennsylvania gas-stations. Read Allison Dantinne’s Sheetz point here.

Growing up in Philadelphia had its perks. I was surrounded by iconic historical buildings, miles-long shopping malls and best of all, the absolute creme de la creme of gas stations — Wawa. But since starting school in Sheetzville last year, I feel like I’m in a long-distance relationship with my beloved gas station, and they don’t deliver food 300 miles away, either.

Now both chains must fight for my affection on a daily basis, but it’s essentially a fight between Mike Tyson and a toddler, which is to say Wawa wins every time.

Wawa’s formula is simple — good food and good service makes for happy customers. And boy, am I one happy customer.

From the moment I pull open the glass doors to the welcoming brick building, the store greets me with the satisfying aroma of coffee and crusty hoagie bread. I feel warm and toasty just like one of the store’s delectable spinach and fontina paninis. A person leaving the store, bag filled with various Wawa goodies, holds the door open for me. We exchange a parting nod and an “Aw yeah” kind of smile, a gesture of respect Wawa-goers give one another.

I order my hoagie from the kiosk, pay then retrieve my meal — simple as that. As I pump my gas while shoving a juicy, flavorful turkey hoagie with sun-dried tomato pesto spread into my mouth, I feel just like Harry Potter at the end of “The Deathly Hallows” — all is well.

Hoagies are Wawa’s trademark, and the store offers more varieties than you can count with your second-grade math skills, from cold-cut monstrosities to meatball subs. Via the ordering kiosk, you can customize your hoagie to your liking, adding as many fresh toppings and sauces as you please.

Wawa even offers specialty hoagies around the holidays. The Gobbler is a Thanksgiving staple, featuring turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy, all on a warm, buttery hoagie roll. This hoagie encapsulates the spirit of Thanksgiving without shackling you to a family dining table and asking why you don’t have a boyfriend while heaping buttered corn onto your plate. Really, it’s what a Thanksgiving meal should be.

The hoagies are made-to-order and are healthier alternatives to fast food, while still maintaining a reasonable price point at $5.59 for a classic 10-inch hoagie. While it’s true that a standard box of fried cheese bites at Sheetz only costs $3.55, you’re truly getting what you pay for. Wawa uses fresh ingredients, whereas Sheetz simply dumps everything in a vat of hot oil and adds a “z” on the end of each food item to sound cool — but unlike Sheetz, Wawa actually is cool.

In fact, if you don’t have time to wait for a hot, delicious, awe-inspiring meal, Wawa also has a cool, prepackaged food section — complete with fresh fruit cups, wraps, even cheese and crackers, all under $10.

While Wawa’s food is undeniably earth-shattering, it’d be hard to enjoy if the experience wasn’t up to par. Luckily, going to a Wawa is also an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. Wawa is known for treating its employees well. On average, employees have rated Wawa a 4/5 on Indeed, a popular job review site. Employees enjoy good benefits, such as health and dental insurance and stock options. Wawa extends a friendly, welcoming hand to those who enter its red and beige establishment, employees and customers alike.

Above all, Wawa’s food isn’t just smoke and mirrors to hide the store’s fundamental purpose — the actual gas station aspect of Wawa also blows Sheetz away. According to a study

conducted by gas-station expert Hannah Schneider, Wawa’s gas is 51 cents cheaper per gallon than Sheetz gas as of September — which, on top of everything else, cements Wawa’s status as the number-one gas station in the Keystone State.

No, Wawa doesn’t have tater tots, and it doesn’t condone putting fryz on a hoagie. But it gives you everything you could want from your food, and what you’d never expect from a gas station. Sheetz may still dominate Western Pennsylvania, but frankly, it’s inferior to Wawa in every way — and no one should give a Sheetz about it.

Write to Neena at [email protected].