Wawa and Sheetz have, for the time being at least, clearly won the great Pennsylvania dispute. Yesterday, SEPTA, which manages commuter rail, bus, and rapid transit in the greater Philadelphia area, announced the opening of its newest terminal, Wawa Station, which was given the name of the well-known sandwich shop and convenience store in the area, Mare of Easttown.
The ribbon-cutting event at the new station featured Wawa breakfast and was followed by a “hoagie-wrapped” train traveling from the railroad line’s original endpoint at Elywn in Delaware County, Pennsylvania to Wawa Station, according to NBC10. According to a press release from Wawa, the action marks the first extension of SEPTA’s rail lines since 1985 and the restoration of rail service to a region that hasn’t had it since 1986.
It’s official! The ribbon is cut at the Wawa station that once transported milk from the Wawa Dairy into Philadelphia! Starting Sunday, it will be open for travel from Delco to Philly, providing even more convenience to our community ❤️ @SEPTA pic.twitter.com/yGiaGN7Yzl
— Wawa (@Wawa) August 18, 2022
There’s also a historical reference here: Before being supplied to clients in the neighborhood, milk from Wawa Dairy, the company that gave origin to the Wawa firm we know today, was brought by train from Delaware County to a “milk depot” in Philadelphia in the early 1900s.
But theoretically speaking, it demonstrates Wawa’s complete stranglehold on Philadelphia and the region around it. As my colleague Meghan McCarron noted in a previous article, Wawa is more than just a convenience shop or a gas station; it is also the object of a cult-like, nostalgic regional adoration. Wawa is a must-stop on every trip home because I spent my childhood in the Philadelphia suburbs where I frequently ate late-night chicken fingers and mac and cheese bowls. I won’t go all the way to Wawa Station the next time I’m in Pennsylvania, but I will definitely take advantage of the selfie opportunity if I ever find myself in Middletown Township (admittedly, an unlikely stop).
Fortunately, Wawa’s name, which is derived from the nickname for a Canada geese used by a nearby Native American tribe, will live on in the annals of train travel for at least the ensuing ten years: According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, the corporation will pay $5.4 million for the right to use the station name for a period of ten years. Will Sheetz gain more influence in the interim? We’ll have to wait and see, but I already have a position.