In 2015, a study confirmed what frequent visitors to convenience stores already knew: Wawa is the best. Seven thousand consumers, polled by Market Force, gave Wawa a "composite loyalty score" of 68 percent, ahead of other stores like QuikTrip (62 percent) and Sheetz (59 percent), and it also nabbed the top spot in fresh food category. Here are some things you might not have known about the absolute best place on earth to buy a hoagie, iced tea, and Tastykakes.
1. Though the first store was opened in 1964, the company actually has more than 200 years of history: It began in 1803 as a New Jersey iron factory and was incorporated in 1865 as the Millville Manufacturing Company. Then, in 1902, Millville's owner George Wood opened up a milk processing plant in Wawa, Pennsylvania. (The cows for the plant came from the English Channel island of Guernsey.)
2. In the early 1900s, many children were becoming sick from drinking raw milk, so Wood had doctors vouch for his product. The "doctor certified" milk, delivered directly to a customer's home, made the business a huge success.
3. As the milk delivery business dwindled in the 1960s, Wood's grandson, Grahame, noticed that customers were shopping more at supermarkets, and thought Wawa could distribute its products that way. The first Wawa Food Market opened at 1212 MacDade Boulevard in Folsom, Pennsylvania, on April 16, 1964—and it's still there!
4. The stores were successful in part because convenience stores were exempt from laws that kept other stores closed on Sundays.
5. By 1972, there were 100 Wawa stores open for business. By 1992, there were 500 stores. This year, there will be as many as 647 Wawa stores.
6. Wawa is Lenni-Lenape for Canada Goose.
7. Want to pronounce "Wawa" correctly? It rhymes with Saw Saw, according to locals.
8. Wawa's stores—located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Florida—sell more than 60 million made-to-order hoagies annually ...
9. And enough coffee—195 million cups—to fill Shamu's tank more than 11 times. That signature coffee, introduced in the 1970s, is proprietary, and available only in Wawa stores.
10. Some Wawa employees attend Wawa University, which, according to the company's website, "will guide you with comprehensive training courses and continuing educational programs. On-site, off-site. On the job, in the virtual and traditional classroom. The goal is always to meet your evolving training and education needs. From Brand Fundamentals to Leadership Development to Career Enhancement, you'll have the chance to strengthen your career potential and achieve your goals."
12. People love their Wawa. In 2009, five West Chester women completed a two-year quest to visit every Wawa then in existence. The New York Times magazine asked if the chain was a "Convenience Cult." And Jackass star Johnny Knoxville has a Wawa tattoo, which he got thanks to "whiskey and adrenaline."
13. Half of Wawa, Pa. is in Middletown, and half of it is in Chester Heights, the official location of the company's headquarters. According to a 1989 Philadelphia Inquirer article, "Estimates of those who do live in Wawa range from about five families ... to 265 families. ... 'No one's ever drawn a line on a map saying this is where Wawa begins and ends,' explained W. Bruce Clark, Middletown's manager."