Wawa vs. Sheetz: Let's look at some stats leading up to the big debate

Which gas station chain will reign supreme?

Which gas station chain will reign supreme? R.Ashrafov | Shutterstock

Whether you can’t live without Sheetz or you gotta have a Wawa, this long-held Pennsylvania convenience store clash has been going on for far too long, and now it’s time to settle the score. We’re just a day away from our big debate, when Congressman Brendan Boyle and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman go head-to-head to decide once and for all which chain really has better coffee, better sandwiches, and ultimately, reigns supreme in the world of Pennsylvania pit stops.

It all began when two Pennsylvania farmers needed a place to sell their milk, and the Keystone State’s greatest gas station rivalry was born. Both Wawa and Sheetz share certain similarities: Each offers 24-hour service for low-price gas, coffee, snacks, pre-packaged food, as well as made-to-order hot or cold food options from a touch-screen kiosk, tobacco products, and a seemingly endless array of cold beverages.

Their styles are different, though. Sheetz is typically louder and flashier, with a more intense vibe than Wawa’s unassuming, plain and simple appearance. Sheetz has a wide variety of exotic frozen drink options on their Slushie menu, ranging from peanut butter and jelly to horchata to orange creamsicle and more. But while Sheetz may seem like it has more options, Wawa reminds us that no matter how you are dressed, you are welcome there. Still wearing your pajamas and heading out for a snack? No one will judge you. 

Here are some fast facts:
  • Cost of a gallon of 2% milk at Wawa: $4.15
  • Cost of a gallon of 2% milk at Sheetz: $4.99
  • Wawa has 900 locations throughout six states and Washington, D.C.
  • Sheetz has 634 locations throughout six states.
  • Wawa reported $13 billion in revenue in 2020.
  • Sheetz reported $6.2 billion in revenue in 2020.
  • Wawa employs 31,000 people.
  • Sheetz employs 19,700 people.
  • Average base hourly wage for Wawa employees: $12.49
  • Average base hourly wage for Sheetz employees: $11
  • Wawa is headquartered in Chester Heights, Delaware County, and was founded in 1803 as an iron foundry. A hundred years later, it opened as the Wawa milk processing plant.
  • Sheetz is headquartered in Altoona, Blair County, and was founded in 1952 when Bob Sheetz bought one of his father’s dairy stores. 

Each store has several “signature” creations. Craving a Wawa Sizzli at 4 a.m.? Go ahead and treat yourself. Hungry for Sheetz’s Mac N Cheese bites with Boom Boom sauce? Sheetz has got you covered. That’s why, for most Pennsylvanians, your allegiance lies with one glorified gas station or the other. Even Johnny Knoxville got a Wawa logo tattooed on his shoulder.

A 2017 survey conducted by the Boston-based tech company GasBuddy revealed that the best overall convenience store experience went to Sheetz in Pennsylvania, while Wawa ranked supreme in New Jersey.

Here’s where Sheetz may have had a leg up: Sheetz offers a full-service espresso and smoothie bar staffed by trained baristas. Some locations have a car wash, laundromat and showers for truckers on the go. They serve free coffee on Christmas and New Year’s Day. They even sell alcohol.

Can Wawa compete with that?

As our two politicos ready to square off for Thursday’s debate, we doubt either is a glutton for punishment or will be quick to throw in the towel. We’re willing to bet, though, that after this showdown, everyone will have an appetite.