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Sheetz vs Wawa, The Gas Station War Only Pennsylvanians Understand
You're pretty incentivized not to eat too much in your car in gas stations outside of the U.S. fuel stations in most places across the world sell the bare minimum foodstuffs to keep you going hungry on long road trips, but not much more. Inside the borders of These States United, it's an entirely different ballgame.

Sheetz vs Wawa, The Gas Station War Only Pennsylvanians Understand

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This is especially true in the home state of America's founding, Pennsylvania. Where two warring gas station chains duke it out in the public opinion and the hearts and minds of everyone from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh.

These two chains are Sheetz and Wawa. To say filling up with gas is a secondary priority when visiting either of these two chains is an understatement. It's all about the snacks, the sugar, and the carbohydrates around these parts. 

Firstly, let's talk Wawa, likely the more well-known of the two. Headquartered appropriately in the Philly satellite city of Wawa, Pennsylvania, this eastern PA chain was founded in its current gas station/restaurant model in April 1964 by Grahame Wood.

Grahame was the grandson of a New Jersey Iron Foundry owner George Wood. In the pre-Wawa days, the bread and butter of the family business was not gas, not sandwiches or coffee, but rather pasteurized milk. Something that still wasn't readily available in most places in the U.S. in the 20s and 30s.

But the writing was on the wall for what the next big leap for Wawa was to undertake. By the 1990s, the hybrid gas station, convenience store, and sandwich shop model was a Pennsylvania as well as a New Jersey institution.

Drivers loved that Wawa's often sold the cheapest gasoline around due to careful negotiation with their petroleum suppliers. Even if questions about fuel quality have consistently been a source of concern over the years. They've yet to go away, that's for sure.

But what they love even more was all the goodies and treats to be bought inside the store. Freshly prepared customized sandwiches with all kinds of meats and
toppings on fresh bread became the go-to snack to start any road trip starting Eastern Pennsylvania.

As were the freshly brewed coffee and a beverage selection that would make most 7-Eleven owners blush. Wawa's attempted to branch out into more sitdown-friendly items like hamburgers and pasta in recent years.

But any Eastern Pennsylvanian will tell you. It's all about drinking coffee and eating sandwiches while congregating over the outdoor garbage cans as tables. Because Wawa's almost never have sit-down eating.

Meanwhile, hit the trail on Interstate-80 and go west, and things get a bit different. The further into Western Pennsylvania you drive, the deeper you drive into Sheetz country. It's a whole different world out there, as you'll soon see. 

Hailing from Altoona, Pennsylvania, sheets was founded in 1952 by G. Robert "Bob" Sheetz. Like Wawa, Sheetz got its start in the dairy business before becoming a go too fueling station for truckers on their way through the Commonwealth.

Sheetz has catered to the trucking industry for as long as they've been selling diesel and food items. Their stores are often larger and on wider plots of land to accommodate 18-wheeler trucks. A virtue they probably wish they didn't have when they tried to appeal to city folks. But hey, business in business. 

But where it's pretty easy to eat healthily at Wawa, it's as if they actively discourage you from doing so at Sheetz. All the food is made to order, but this time, it's usually deep-fried in hot oil first to ensure that A, it's a certified health hazard when eaten in excess, and B, it's absolutely delicious.

Be it the mac & cheese bites, curly fries, fried dill pickles, or any of the other greasy handheld foods Pittsburghites love to much on with their cup of fried nonsense in one cup holder and their oversized beverage in the other.

Like Wawa, Sheetz is often accused of using sub-par gasoline and diesel at their pumps to make for the most competitively priced product possible. Whether or not this is true is up for debate today. Depending on who you talk you, you may get a completely different opinion of the gas quality, it would seem.

We can only hope our cars enjoy the reasonably priced 87 octane as much as we enjoy the deep-fried Nashville hot chicken sandwich with two waffles for bread and syrup on the side.

Which of the two is more hazardous to your or your vehicle's health is also somewhat up for debate. Even if both Sheetz and Wawa have stores throughout the U.S., you can't help but associate both of them with the Keystone State.


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