BY NADYA ELLERHORST
There are a few conclusive signs that assure me that I’m in Delaware:
- The presence of spotted lanternflies
- The absence of sales tax on my receipts
- Wawa YouTube ads
Ever since the two-syllable name of this regional fountainhead of convenience and gasoline fell upon my ears, it took on a sort of legendary, yet elusive, status. What was it about this chain that stole the hearts of so many around me? Was it truly a place where one could fill their fuel tank and their stomach? “Gotta have a Wawa”? Alright, if you say so – but why?
While Wawa remained out of reach during my virtual first year, even in the midst of the return to campus this mysterious enterprise kept its distance. It did, however, become vividly animated in the confines of conversations with my fellow Blue Hens. Many outlined the wonders of its beverages, its sandwiches, its breakfast wares (I didn’t hear much about the gasoline, but I suppose that’s not as important), criticizing other chains and affirming Wawa’s superiority over all.
Until a few fateful weeks ago, I had successfully skirted around the Wawa experience, despite coming in fairly close contact with the scene. Multiple times I had been in a vehicle that stopped at the Wawa on Ogletown Road to refuel. Instead of exiting the vehicle to explore, I remained quaking in my seat as I witnessed the myriad of cars aggressively attempting to claim a pump in the expansive parking lot. At the start of my sophomore year, I stepped into the one on East Chestnut Hill Road for about three seconds and got intimidated by the sheer amount of stuff, so I quickly left.
I clearly was not worthy then. But everything changed when Bianka Heather, managing visuals editor and certified Wawa extraordinaire, offered to take me to one.
As we pulled up to the Wawa on East Chestnut Hill Road on a rainy September afternoon, I could not help but undergo a twinge of apprehension as I recalled the sheer and utter confusion from last time. However, I felt reassured by Bianka’s apparent Wawa expertise, and as we walked in she embarked on giving me a tour. I wasn’t so scared anymore.
Bianka explained to me that the store sections remain relatively uniform across locations, and everything started to take on a sort of cohesion. In the East Chestnut Hill Road location and thirsty for a cold beverage? Head to the left. Need a quick bite? Meet in the middle. Have a few minutes to wait? Order on the right.
Should you make a right, apparently you do not place your order with a human being, but must instead answer to a screen (such innovation). To truly make my Wawa experience, we decided to get something to eat. Upon the suggestion of many, I settled on a hoagie, and on Wawa connoisseur Bianka’s recommendation, I opted for a chai latte.
Then the screen started asking me questions.
Ordering the latte was easy enough. It was the hoagie that gave me pause. I had so. Many. Choices. Meats, breads, sauces, vegetables – so many potential combinations, so many chances for an unappetizing final product. With perspiration creeping at my pores and Bianka calmly guiding me, we settled on a wheat bread hoagie with breaded chicken, chipotle sauce, provolone, tomato and lettuce – a fine, carb-laden combination in my opinion.
As we stood waiting, with Rihanna (I kid you not) singing “Where have you been all my life?” over the speakers, my heartbeat slowly returned to a normal rate. Sustenance finally acquired, we returned to the car to feast, and feast we did.
Had my guide not been at my side, this run-in with Wawa would probably have been grouped among my previously overwhelming forays, but I am glad I finally got to witness Wawa firsthand. For all the terror it initially instilled in my non-East Coast heart, Wawa turned out to be oddly comforting. Everything you need is right there, and there is bound to always be one in the vicinity, at your service.
I finally get the hype. It caters, for goodness’ sake.
So yes, I’ve tried Wawa. But that’s just it – it seems as though there’s still so much I have yet to sample that attempting to write an article to encompass it all is sort of futile. It almost seems column-worthy.
And while it strikes me as a place of nostalgia, of routine, of guarantee, it is still somehow always reinventing itself, with frequent new offerings coming and going. Just the same, a part of it fundamentally remains unchanged, existing as a mix of comfort in the present and anticipation for what the future might bring.
I have not been to a Wawa since (I have a meal plan and lack a car), but as far as I can tell, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon – the YouTube ads certainly won’t let me forget that.
I prefer royal farms, but grew up with wawa. I never realized some people didn’t have access to it until I was in highschool. I’m glad you had a good experience and were able to find their hidden charm.