Sheetz v. WaWa

February 10th, 2013

sheetz-wawaPittsburgh and Philadelphia, though both within the same Commonwealth, may as well be on different continents. They are different politically, culturally, and perhaps most important, culinarily. You see, each city in Pennsylvania is ground zero for two warring convenience store chains.

In Pittsburgh, there is Sheetz (based in Altoona, right outside of State College). In Philadelphia, there is WaWa.

These are not regular convenience stores, like a 7-11. They are gas stations, shops, and 24-hour restaurants. They have  full menus, and can make really good food quickly, for a low price. And you order form a touch-screen, which has lots of options to customize your food. There is really nothing like it anywhere else in the country.

Among Pennsylvanians, there is a never-ending feud about which store is better. Even the New York Times dedicated an entire column to it!  The Times did have one funny line:

A political pollster in Harrisburg even surveyed Pennsylvanians on their favorite, though results were skewed because of Sheetz’s wider state footprint.

The colors of the dots on the map even work. Sheetz is from red-state Pittsburgh, and WaWa is from blue-state Philadelphia.

I am quite biased for Sheetz. I went to Penn State, and the founders of Sheetz were Nittany Lions. I also lived in Johnstown for two years, which had five or six Sheetz. Thus, I have something of a dislike for WaWa.

If you ever drive along the Pennsylvania Turnpike from one end of Pennsylvania to the next, you can judge where you are by the density of Sheetzs and WaWas.

Update: My friend Zak Slayback sent me a picture of a place in Johnstown where there are two Sheetzs across the street from each other. Zak said you can see the Sheetz from the parking lot of another Sheetz.