Apr 16, 2024 - News

Finding Wawa super fans beyond Philadelphia

Illustration of the Wawa goose logo flying through the sky, being watched through binoculars.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

I have a deep, dark family secret: My pops is a Wawa "stan."

Threat level: He's so obsessed with the convenience store that, a couple of months ago, he texted my sister after she landed in Philly for the first time to ask whether she had tried Wawa.

We rolled our eyes. Philly has a renowned dining scene, and we're over here talking about a gas station, bro!

  • Our family jokes that he should become their ambassador.

The intrigue: I went looking for other self-proclaimed Wawa superfans and found people counting down the days until the fast-food juggernaut expands to their neighborhoods.

Why it matters: Wawa is "life," superfan Camye Edwards of Tallahassee, Florida, tells Axios.

  • She once made a Wawa pit stop on the way to a funeral and is trying to convince her daughter to have the store cater her wedding.

Yes, but: Not everyone knows the joy of Wawa. The store has over 1,000 stories in seven states, including here, Delaware, Virginia and Florida.

What they're saying: Wawa has been described as a "clown car of a thing," because of its variety — made-to-order hoagies, quesadillas, pizza, doughnuts, coffee and more.

  • "Wawa is not a gas station that happens to sell food. It is an eatery that happens to sell gas," says Edwards, who lives two hours from the nearest Wawa, which is opening its first Tallahassee location in 2025.
  • Edwards, a big fan of the Wawa peach teas, says she's converted her skeptical husband into a "born-again believer" who now sips the Wawa lemonade.

Flashback: My pops first tried Wawa about eight years ago, when he stayed with me for three months while I battled stage 3 testicular cancer. My initial prognosis was bad — one to two years max — until we transferred to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philly.

  • My dad always grabbed a cheesesteak and a coffee and brought me back a cookies-and-cream shake. Those treats made our times a little easier while I fought for my life.

"Those were lifelines to happiness," my dad told me. "It seems weird, but that's the ultimate comfort food place. I left with great memories of a place that sustained me during an unsustainable time."

The bottom line: Ben Choi, a member of the Air Force stationed in Pensacola, Florida, grew up in Delaware and remembers riding his bike with high-school friends to get snacks from the local store.

  • Now he'll soon be able to get his Thanksgiving fix — the turkey gobbler sandwich.
  • "It's your hometown, go-to food," he tells Axios. "When you find someone who has eaten at a Wawa, you connect with them immediately."
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