Thrillist just published a great article the other day entitled “Wawa vs. Sheetz: Behind the Most Heated Food Rivalry in the Country,” that I knew I was going to automatically love, and subsequently write about, because this is about as Pennsylvanian an issue as they come, and this is a subject I’ve discussed often.
While I do know many people who have die hard allegiances to one of these fast-food behemoths, and vehemently detest the other one, I’m a fan of both. I really don’t know how you could like one and not the other (I fundamentally do not understand people who say, LOVE McDonalds, but refuse to eat at Burger King); when it comes down to it, they have way more similarities then differences, right down to red and yellow color scheme. The truth of the matter is I feel downright privileged to live in a state that takes its convenient stores so seriously. Between Sheetz and Wawa, and I’m going to throw Turkey Hill into the mix here too, as some of their locations recently have added made-to-order computer generated meals, I know I’m almost always going to have a convenient store experience that’s clean, will provide me with quality chocolate milk (one of my main caveats), and has a solid selection of both meals and snacks. Plus, it’s all but eradicated the need for fast food. Why settle for a subpar McDonald’s hamburger, when you could get a real chicken sandwich at Sheetz? We’re spoiled. I actively hate going to 7/11’s now.
That all being said, I hands down prefer Wawa, which is a bittersweet admission, as I sit firmly ensconced in Sheetz-only Northeast PA (Wawa has so far ignored my one man twitter campaign to get them to set up camp here).
Living in Lancaster was a unique experience in this regard, as it sits in a bit of a no man’s land. Chester to County to the East is tried and true Wawa territory (and where Wawa was founded), while Harrisburg to the east is Western PA, Sheetz territory. Lancaster had several of both. I probably went to Sheetz more, just because I happened to pass it out everyday on my way to work, but for Saturday morning hangover food, I went out of my way to indulge in the goodness that is Wawa.
For me, Wawa has several minor, but very important advantages. First and foremost is that Wawa chocolate milk is far superior to Sheetz, which makes sense with its dairy roots and all. And as far as fast food goes, I do feel that it’s easier to eat healthy at Wawa: they offer a wheat option for all their sandwiches and hoagies, and I love that there’s always fresh fruit available for purchase. I find Wawa baked goods to be far superior (they’ve got great muffins), and they also kill it in two other categories I find important: sandwiches of the club and breakfast variety. I wish Wawa offered sweet potato fries like Sheetz does, but that’s a minor complaint. If I’m being completely honest, nostalgia plays a big part in my allegiance to Wawa, specifically a particular Wawa located at 3800 Landis Avenue in Sea Isle City, New Jersey. If you’ve spent any part of your adolescence, or early 20’s in Sea Isle, then you undoubtedly ended a few nights in that parking lot, back to the Dead Dog. chowing down on a reasonably priced sandwich you waited 20 minutes for, and loving every second of it. My drunk-Sea-Isle Wawa order was always the same: an Italian hoagie, with extra vinegar, on a cinnamon raisin bagel. I assure you it is better than it sounds. I had one this summer for old time’s sake, and it held up.
Really though, what pushes Wawa to the front of this friendly rivalry is that there is a specific Wawa meal that I actively miss now that I don’t live in Wawa country. Like I said, I like Sheetz, I really do, it’s reliable, and solid, but I don’t know that I would miss it if it went away. I don’t know that there’s an order at Sheetz that can’t be replicated elsewhere.
You know what I miss and crave on a weekly basis, and whose nuclear orange sauce cannot be replicated? A 10 inch buffalo chicken hoagie on a wheat roll, with a Wawa chocolate milk to wash it all down.