The Mythical Land of WaWa
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BY DANIELLE CHARBONNEAU & DANIEL MYERS
When my roommate from New Jersey talks about WaWa, it’s as if she’s describing some mythical place like Oz or Never-Never Land. She drools over the thought of WaWa’s peach iced tea and comes home with bags of pre-packaged salads, hot panini sandwiches and mini donuts. My other roommate, who is from close to Philly (the original land of WaWa), raves about the gas station’s coffee bar, with its massive lineup of coffee types, flavored creamers, mini marshmallows and shakers of cocoa powder, cinnamon and vanilla. I never quite understood either of their odd fascinations with the weirdly-named store (WaWa? I mean, isn’t that the noise a baby makes?). Nonetheless, when they exclaimed (for months, I might add) that WaWa was coming, I too awaited the store’s arrival with anticipation.
I was expecting something akin to 7-11. You see, as a native Coloradan, 7-11 was my gas station homeland. I worshiped Slurpees in the summertime (I mastered the technique of mixing the flavors and tapping the cup on the counter to ensure the maximum amount of Slurpee smooshed down into the cup). I also liked perusing the rows of candy and occasionally indulged in some stale round tortilla chips covered in an odd orange sauce called nacho cheese (what that rubbery sauce is, I will never know). I have some sweet nostalgia for my childhood 7-11. Yet, when I recently entered WaWa for the first time, I must admit, WaWa puts 7-11 to shame. I suppose you could say I had a Come-to-WaWa-Experience.
1) COFFEE AND FIX-INS
Avid coffee drinkers may be skeptical, but WaWa might be the best place around to grab a quick coffee. With ten different coffee roasts (like French Vanilla, Hazelnut and Dark Roast), a hot beverage machine (which included english toffee, hot chocolate and original cappuccino), an iced coffee machine, mini marshmallows and a whole host of creamers and shakers, WaWa is a fun place to mix, cream, dust and create your own coffee concoction. Just don’t do what I did and act like a six year old, mixing every ingredient on the line.
Soft pretzels are fairly standard fare for gas stations and ballparks, but WaWa’s take it up a notch. The Sweet Cream Cheese pretzel is currently our favorite, with a creamy center and crispy-perfect pretzel. It’s salty, sweet and creamy. The more classic ‘Philadelphia’ pretzel, as pointed out to us by an employee, is a WaWa icon. Freshly made in Orlando specifically for WaWa, these pretzels raise the bar for soft pretzels. There’s also a cheddar-cheese-stuffed version.
3) HOT FOOD / SANDWICHES
It’s hard to come by a gas station with hot food beyond taquitos and hot dogs rotating in a plastic box. WaWa’s centerpiece is a kitchen, boasting stainless steel ovens and the works. Expect some quality sandwiches here.
4) ICED TEAS
Wa-Wa carries its own brand and each bottle is only $1. There’s a large variety including peach, tangerine white tea, lemonade-iced tea combo and green.
Yes, potstickers. What else do we need to say?
There’s like 10 different kinds for your midnight sweet tooth.
7) ACCESSIBILITY & PARKING
WaWa just feels nice. The parking lot has over a dozen spaces, there’s room between pumps and outdoor seating for lunch. And unlike most gas stations, the inside is spacious. It’s like the Rolls Royce of gas stations.
8) FRIENDLY STAFF
Our experience at WaWa took a personal turn when we began speaking with employees. One employee, Jared, was not only helpful but down-right friendly. A 22-year veteran with WaWa, Jared had high praises for the company and the myriad benefits he receives from them. If Jared is any indication, it seems WaWa treats their employees very well.