Happy Wawaversary to You

The Delaware Valley has some great claims to fame: the Constitution, Liberty Bell, Rocky, the cheesesteak, throwing snowballs at Santa (just had to "throw" that one in here), soft pretzels, Will Smith and, of course, Wawa.

Wawa, the little convenience store that could, turned 45 Thursday.

Who would have thought Wawa was 45 years old? Most of the stores don't even look like adolescents (except for the store on Belmont Avenue near the Schuylkill Expressway -- that store looks a bit more mature).

Well, in fact most Wawa locations aren't 45 -- only one is 45 years old -- the original Wawa Food Store in Ridley Township, Pa.

The original Wawa marked the birthday milestone with a Wawaversary party. They had some free food and even a hoagie building competition judged by WMMR's Preston Elliot.

But how did we all get to this point where Wawa is such an integral part of some many of our lives? Come one most people who aren't native to Philly don't get it and the silly name sure doesn't help.

But, Philadelphia get it -- Wawa is part of us. Heck, the Wawa hoagie even beat out the cheesesteak to become the official sandwich of Philadelphia in 1992.

The Wawa we know today isn't anything like the company once was.

The Wawa dairy was around long before 1964 (Just take a look at the company's timeline) delivering milk door to door. But, the home dairy business was drying up and the company needed a new outlet to serve consumers. So, Grahme Wood opened the first Wawa Food Market on April 16, 1964 on McDade Blvd. in Folsom.

The rest is history. Wawa has since gone 24/7, dropped ATM fees, added coffee, pretzels, turkey bowls and eventually expanded into the gas business. Every store has remodeled and revamped its offerings to keep up with the changing food consumer.

Wawa is more than a food store. Wawa is a way of life throughout the Philadelphia region.

- The a.m. commuter grabs a coffee and maybe bagel before work.
- The midday crowd swings over during work to pick up an ice tea and shorti.
- The post-work shopper grabs some last minute dinner necessities (and another cup of coffee) before heading home to cook.
- The night crowd hits up the free ATM before hitting starting their night.
- The late-nighters hit Wawa post bar or movie or just as an event in itself.

Almost every Philadelphian has played these roles at some point.

So when you chomp into that hoagie today or sip on that cup of joe, take a moment to reflect on Wawa's 45 years.

Just in case you were wondering: Wawa is the town where the dairy began and also is the Lenni-Lenape name for a Canadian goose -- hence the goose on the Wawa logo.

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