Wawa NPR
Wawa Jacqueline Larma/AP

Bubba, 2, leans out of his owner's pickup truck, parked in front of the first Wawa convenience store, which opened in April 1964, in Folsom, Pennsylvania, Thursday, April 22, 2004. In addition to competing with other convenience stores for spur-of-the-moment grocery business, the chain now tries to pry customers from fast-food restaurants, doughnut shops and gas stations.

May 18, 2017

'NPR Politics Podcast' tackles crucial listener-submitted question: What is Wawa?

Let's talk about priorities.

The reporters and hosts at NPR's "Politics Podcast" took minutes from breaking down the chaotic newsweek to address a regional rivalry sure to strike a chord with the show's Philadelphia audience.

In the Monday episode, political reporters took a little more than half an hour to answer listeners' questions on all things Washington. The show, which has its share of weekly roundups and takes on breaking news, covered a lot of ground, from the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the progression of the GOP-led health care bill to Democratic town halls and the travel ban. 

But there was one question, which the reporters called "the most important of the day," that came from a man named Jerry who resides in California. His query, which wrapped up the show, was in response to a discussion from the "NPR Politics" roundup last week, when host Scott Detrow, who covers Congress, "referred to a restaurant known as Wawa."

Jerry asked: "What is that?"

The hosts spent about three minutes trying to explain the regional phenomenon and the Wawa vs. Sheetz rivalry to the national audience.

Detrow – who grew up in New Jersey, worked in Harrisburg and is getting a master's degree at the Univesity of Pennsylvania but somehow prefers Sheetz – even took to Twitter, creating a poll and asking people to choose between the two. Out of more than 1,200 responses, Wawa won with a whopping 62 percent of the vote.

White House correspondent Scott Horsley joked during the podcast that the results were comparable to the recent French election, where newcomer Emmanuel Macron defeated longtime politician Marine Le Pen with 66 percent of the vote.

"It is a regional convenience store located along the East Coast, but I would say its spiritual center is Southern New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania," Detrow said.

He explains:

"You've got gas, you've got above average coffee, you've got excellent hoagies, a wide selection of drinks. You know, they have mozzarella sticks – they've got lots of things. You may have a Wawa near you, you may live in a Casey's part of America, or a Kwik Trip, or a Kum & Go, or a Turkey Hill or a ampm or a Speedway, or a Circle K ... many choices, but if you live in Pennsylvania, on the western part of the state, you have a chain called Sheetz. Wawa and Sheetz have a beef with each other, I said in the pod that I prefer Sheetz and I do, I lived in central Pennsylvania for several years."

Light news? Hardly.

Listen to the episode below – the Wawa stuff starts around 28:41. To hear more from the "NPR Politics Podcast," check out their website here