Wawaversary Day Dawns

45th anniversary celebration today at chain's first c-store, in Folsom, Pa.

FOLSOM, Pa. -- Today, April 16, Wawa Inc. is celebrating a historic milestone in the company's historythe 45th anniversary of the first Wawa convenience store, which marked the dairy company's entrance into the convenience retailing business. To commemorate the occasion, Wawa is hosting an all-day, in-store celebration at this landmark store in Folsom, Pa., and will be offering free coffee and Wawa Bakery treats at the store throughout the day. The 45th anniversary celebration at Store 1 is the flagship affair in the Year of the Wawaversary, a year-long initiative commemorating [image-nocss] milestone anniversaries of 25, 30, 35, 40 and 45 years at more than 45 Wawa stores throughout the chain.

Customers will notice a barrage of decorations, associates wearing anniversary apparel and a gigantic coffee cup cake constructed entirely out of Wawa coffee cups, with "45 years" prominently displayed at the top. Customers and associates will be serenaded by special guests Wally & the Honkers, Wawa's all-kazoo band featuring the Wawa mascot, Wally Goose and his kazoo-playing entourage. Free coffee, hoagies, and Wawa Bakery treats will be offered all day. In addition to the Wawaversary activities, there will be an extravaganza taking place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. featuring free samples of hoagies, Tastykakes, Herr's Chips and ice cream.

"April 16 is the most important date in Wawa's history. It's the date that laid the foundation for the transition of two businessestextiles and dairyinto a retail chain that now serves more than a million customers a day," said Howard Stoeckel, Wawa's president and CEO. "All of our Wawaversary celebrations are a way of honoring our rich history in the communities we serve, and recognizing both customers and associates for their loyalty and business."

On April 16, after brief remarks by Stoeckel, Ridley Township representatives will read from an official proclamation, declaring April 16 to be "Wawaversary Day." WMMR radio's Preston Elliot will emcee the event.

The celebration will be headlined by a hoagie building competition that pits a team from the Ridley Township Administrative Offices against a team from the Ridley Township Police Department, as they battle it for the title of "heroes" of hoagie building. Elliot will referee as each team is challenged to see who can build 45 hoagies first, in honor of the Wawaversary. Wawa will donate $2,000 on behalf of the contestants to benefit the Township of Ridley Police & Fire Memorial Foundation.

As part of this celebration, Wawa will also be recognizing "milestone" customers who have been frequenting Wawa since the first store opened in Folsom. To honor these veteran customers, Wawa executives and longtime store associates will present each of these customers with a specially designed golden travel mug, filled with one month's worth of free Wawa coffee coupons. In addition, each of these customers will be awarded a ceremonial key to the store. (Click the Download Now button below for details on these milestone customers.)

"At Wawa, we pride ourselves on the unique relationships we have with our customers and with the community," said Nicole Dieterle, general manager of the Folsom Wawa. "This is especially true here at Store 1, where many of the close bonds that have formed between store associates and our customers extend back more than four decades. Today is a proud moment in Wawa's history and we're honored to embrace so many community members as part of the extended Wawa family."

As a special component of the 45th anniversary celebration, Wawa has collaborated with the Hagley Museum & Library to publish a photo exhibit of the first 45 years of Wawa store history. The digital collection will be available through the Hagley website and is part of a larger collection of images and artifacts from Wawa's 200 years of history. A portion of the photo exhibit will be on display at the Wawa Store No. 1 Wawaversary celebration for the public to view. As a second link to Wawa's past, the Wawa Antique Truck that used to delivery Wawa dairy products to customers prior to the opening of the first food market, will be displayed prominently at the milestone event.

"When founder Grahame Wood opened the first Wawa store in 1964, he envisioned a new kind of convenience store that simplified customers' daily lives with fast, friendly service, fresh products, and value prices," said Stoeckel; "45 years later, we continue to honor the commitment to our customers made when this first store opened, and have expanded to provide this same high degree of service to customers across the mid-Atlantic region."

Wawa, Inc., a privately held company, began in 1803 as an iron foundry in New Jersey. Toward the end of the 19th century, owner George Wood took an interest in dairy farming and the family began a small processing plant in Wawa, Pa, in 1902. The milk business was a huge success, due to its quality, cleanliness and "certified" process. As home delivery of milk declined in the early 1960s, Grahame Wood, George's grandson, opened the first Wawa Food Market in 1964 as an outlet for dairy products. Today, Wawa operates more than 560 stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

Click hereto view Wawaversary celebration photo albums.

For more on the history of Wawa, click here to read a CSP magazine profile of Dick Wood.