Thursday, June 13, 2019


Place: Wawa
Lunch: Cheesesteak hoagie (mayo, caramelized onions, pickles), mac and cheese,, meatball, hot dog, water

Wawa has a legendary reputation with a fiercely loyal fan base who consider them the greatest convenience store chain in the world.  I’ve been to one once, and I was inside just long enough to get a receipt for my gas that the pump didn’t provide.  Now, I’m sampling the menu for lunch to see what makes their fans so feverish.

Convenience store chains have been upping their fresh food game in the wake of declining tobacco sales and the decreasing profitability of gas on the retail end.  Full kitchens producing made to order foods are becoming more common.  Wawa and fellow Pennsylvania competitor Sheetz were pioneers here and debates on which chain is better are as common in their core markets as Coke vs Pepsi or even Soda vs Pop are everywhere.  I’ve been to Sheetz a lot.  This is my first time eating something at Wawa, and trips to Wawa markets being extremely rare for me, I took advantage to sample a few things.

Ordering is done from a touch screen, much like Sheetz.  Offerings focus on hoagies and sides...the selection is much more limited from the ridiculous number of offerings at Sheetz.  The hoagies are all anyone ever talks about anyway.  So I order my cheesesteak, a small side of mac and cheese, and small meatballs (you get two in a cup).

I also wander the store.  There’s an area with Wawa-branded snacks and the usual convenience store fare.  The soda fountain is a Coke Freestyle, no Peosi.  There’s a mini staffed coffee station that makes custom coffee drinks.  And there’s a heated glass display case full of hot dogs in plastic containers pre-bunned.  No roller grill.  No way to add chili or cheese.  Condiments are limited to tiny packets.  You’d probably need like ten mustard packets for the bigger hot dogs.  I grab a hot dog anyway.

I pay for everything, my order number is called, and I head to the car to eat in the parking lot.  The first thing I discover is they don’t automatically place any cutlery in the bag when you order things that require it.  Nice.  I have a spare plastic spoon from some other fast food visit on hand anyway.

So how was it?

The cheesesteak was lousy.  The meat and onions were pretty flavorless.  The mayo overwhelmed the thing and tasted odd.  It was also supposed to have cheese on it, but I could find no evidence of it existing.  Thumbs down.

The meatballs were lousy.  Just bland.  I ate one of them.  Thumbs down.

The mac and cheese was the highlight.  Better than you’d expect from a convenience store.  Thumbs up.

The hot dog was a bold flavored all-meat plumper that required all the mustard packets I grabbed and maybe then some.  Too strong without the mustard, fine with it.  Thumbs...up.

Bottom line...I walked into Wawa wondering why they had such a cult following.  I walked out still wondering why they had a cult following, but for all the wrong reasons.

In the debate of which is better, Sheetz wins by a landslide.

But QuikTrip still beats them both.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Bob for the Block

Place: In-N-Out Burger
Lunch: Double Double (no lettuce, no tomato, add pickles and grilled onions), chocolate shake

You know what I never noticed before?  In-N-Out’s grilled onions are reconstituted dehydrated minced onions.

They’re fine, it just seems odd for a chain that boasts of “fresh” so much.  And it won’t matter to the In-N-Out faithful, who are as fiercely and blindly behind the brand as Apple fans are to theirs.

This was made apparent in news stories covering the closure of the oldest operating Burgerville.  The Portland chain’s Beaverton outlet was my childhood burger joint and it still retains that classic exterior look.  I’ve stopped in for lunch on every trip home for years.

It’s a big deal to a lot of people to see it go, including to the media, who covered it and posted said stories on Facebook.  Which meant there were lots of comments.  That included lots of snarky negative comments.

“Who cares.  They’re overrated.”

“Their quality has gone down hill and they’re overpriced.”

“The whole chain will be out of business as soon as In-N-Out opens.”

Wait...what?  In-N-Out?  Yes.  In-N-Out is opening a restaurant soon in Salem.

A single location, specifically, that is 40 miles from this Burgerville (and most other Burgervilles), is going to put all 40 Burgervilles out of business.

This isn’t just a Burgerville issue, of course.  The same thing happens with all the major chains.  Everybody loves to dump on McDonald’s and Burger King like it’s a sport.  But no matter how many new and even better competitors grow, they’re still the biggest burger chains.

This happens with any business, news story, musical artist page, you name it.  It was on the official KISS page that I got fed up with the idiots who “like” the page and follow the posts for their big tour just so they can leave comments like “its fake Paul’s lip-synching” and “they’re a cover band without Ace and Peter.”

And that’s when I started blocking people.

When you block a user on Facebook, they can no longer see your posts, you can no longer see theirs, and they can’t send you friend requests.  And if they’re already friends, they’re automatically unfriended.

The KISS feed suddenly became so much more readable.

So I started to do the same with toxic users on other feeds.  Then I started muting the radical firebombing political posters regardless of party affiliation who I am friends with (muting hides their posts from your feed, but they can still read yours) or selectively putting some on 30 day mutes.  And I started hiding all content from meme sources my friends are constantly sharing on their feeds.  (Hiding a source means you’ll no longer see shared posts from that source without completely muting your friend.)

I also started blocking big pharma advertisers so I don’t have to look at their disgusting ads.

You know what?  Facebook has become a lot more tolerable.  My feed is more readable.  It’s not perfect, but it’s better.

So the next time you see that same username posting yet another stupid negative unnecessary comment, click on their profile, find the option to block them, and send them into the abyss.

You’ll feel much better in the morning.