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Wawa marks a 60th anniversary milestone

Wawa Food Market

A star was born in Folsom in 1964. Photo: Courtesy of Wawa

Wawa is marking the 60th anniversary of the opening of its first convenience store with free coffee and promotions today.

Why it matters: In the six decades since its humble beginnings in Folsom, Pennsylvania, Wawa has built a brand with a devoted fan base that generates billions of dollars in revenue as it aspires to become a national brand.

Driving the news: The company is decking out stores with vintage decor, and tempting you with 60-cent promotions on birthday cake doughnuts and drinks to mark Wawa Day at all locations.

  • You can also fill up with a free hot coffee of any size all day.
  • Each store will randomly recognize a single customer as "Day Brighteners."

What else is happening: The day will kick off from 7-8am with a ceremonial coffee pour at Wawa's 6th and Chestnut Street store.

  • Then company officials will hand out $1 million in donations to charities and highlight Wawa's expansion plans.

Plus: A new Wawa exhibit will open at 9am at the National Constitution Center, focusing on teaching young people about American business and Wawa's growth over the years.

  • Admission to the museum is free all day.
  • Score some free drinks and snacks from the 1918 Wawa milk truck parked outside the museum.

Zoom in: Wawa's longevity and cult brand have been fueled by more than its food options, coffee and deals.

What they're saying: Wawa's endurance has been fueled by authenticity, a fun name and its offering of fresh, quality foods, Barbara Kahn, marketing expert at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, tells Axios.

  • Philly is "loyal to people that treat them well and do the right thing by them and understand the city's culture, and Wawa I think tapped into that Philly vibe," she said.

What's next: Wawa is growing.

  • The company's advertising budget has exploded over the last two decades, reaching about $100 million from around $7 million in 2004, per MediaRadar.
  • Wawa introduced its new retailer media platform, Goose Media Network, this year to better target customers and build partnerships with other brands, per MarketingDive.

The bottom line: The company aims to have stores in every state and open 100 locations a year.