PHILADELPHIA -- Of all the numerous conflicts polarizing the nation, is it possible the most volatile continues to grow inside Pennsylvania’s convenience stores?
The City of Brotherly Love is being torn apart by a decades-long faceoff: Sheetz vs. Wawa. In fact, filmmaker Matthew Fridg is planning a 2019 release of a documentary about the rivalry with the tagline, “We settle this here. We settle this now.” News of the upcoming movie has prompted Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf to take on a peacekeeping role and share where his loyalties lie.
The answer: inside Rutter’s convenience stores.
On his official Facebook page, the governor commented on an article about the coming documentary, writing, “Shame that they didn’t include the real winner Rutter’s in this analysis (thinking face emoji.)” Fans of Wawa and Sheetz have shared some choice emojis of their own in response to the governor’s post.
However, the governor’s connection with the chain runs deep. Wolf hails from York County, Pa., where the Rutter’s brand was established in 1747. “Our CEO, Scott Hartman, also has a great relationship with the governor, and politicians on both sides of the house,” said Derek Gaskins, chief customer officer for York, Pa.-based Rutter’s. “The governor’s family also has roots that go back for generations in our market. He grew up going to Rutter’s and still stops at our stores daily for fuel, food, beverages and more in his travels.”
Rutter’s offers a variety of made-to-order meals and has added espresso and smoothie bars in many of its stores in Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, Wawa, Pa.-based Wawa, famous for its hoagies, has launched mobile ordering services for its rewards members and has partnered with food-delivery company Grubhub in the past year. And sandwiches, mozzarella sticks and Wisconsin Cheese Bites are popular sellers for Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz. In 2017, the chain launched a Kidz Mealz platform and voice ordering through Amazon Alexa.
Known for their fearsome alliances, some Facebook users warned Wolf not to get on the wrong side of Sheetz and Wawa devotees, and mentions of impeachment grew in the comments section.
Although Wolf may have alienated lovers of hoagies and people who enjoy adding Z to the end of words, he may have just won over a new voter base. One Rutter’s fan responded with, “One thing I actually can agree with Wolf on. Surprising.”
Others shared a dream of a life in which fans of c-store food didn’t have to choose. “Rutter's for breakfast. Sheetz if you've been drinking. Wawa for all of the rest of your life,” wrote one commenter.
“We respect them both as competitors and great brands,” Gaskins said. “Our healthy rivalry makes the state of Pennsylvania arguably the best market for convenience retail in the entire world. Iron sharpens iron, and we believe customers derive great benefits from having strong retail brands that all have roots in Pennsylvania.”
Sheetz and Wawa did not respond to requests for comment, but perhaps this debate has the power to bring Pennsylvanians—and all Americans—a bit closer.