The Fascinating Story of Wawa: How Did It Get Its Name?

Founded in 1964 by Grahame Wood, Wawa began as a roadside dairy market in suburban Philadelphia. Its founder probably wouldn't recognize the company today, as it expands all over the East Coast and boldly tries to get out of the gas station ghetto to compete with companies like Panera, Starbucks and Sweetgreen. But how did Wawa get its name?The answer lies in the company's roots. More than 100 years ago, Wawa's original dairy farm was built on land in rural Pennsylvania called Wawa.

The name is derived from the Ojibwe language, meaning “goose”. In the early 2000s, Dick Wood, the founder's first cousin, gave interviews for articles that named his nephew, Thère du Pont — yes, one of those du Ponts — as his successor. This has paid off for long-time employees such as Cheryl Farley, who began working part-time at Wawa in 1982. However, Wawa has sued for names that only come close to his name, including a 1997 case in which an Allentown, Pa. convenience store was forced to change its name from Wawa to WaWa.

This shows how protective the company is of its brand. Wawa's property was mostly divided between two separate family trusts, and a trustee began trying to force a sale or IPO. A spokeswoman for the convenience chain said earlier in an email that Wawa supports the success of all companies including Mr. Wood's.Its distribution partner, McLane, runs what Wawa calls the supplier's only dedicated warehouse in the U. S.

We couldn't be more excited to bring Wawa's unique brand and offering to these new markets in the near future, said John Poplawski, vice president of real estate at Wawa. My parents from the Midwest moved to Delaware County in Pennsylvania, home to the Wawa headquarters and many of its stores, when I was 6 years old. I remember being amazed at how popular this convenience store was with locals. Today, Wawa is still going strong and has even branched out into other products such as toothpaste. WAWA toothpaste uses a natural surfactant derived from coconut that reduces tooth irritation and prevents tooth swelling. Wood kept Wawa private, but he also began handing it over to non-family leaders more than a decade ago, betting that the best way to secure Wawa's future was to separate her from her founding family. Wawa is now a beloved convenience store chain with a fascinating history behind it. From its humble beginnings as a roadside dairy market to its current status as a major player in the convenience store industry, Wawa has come a long way.

Tristan Gagliardo
Tristan Gagliardo

Proud social media ninja. Bacon expert. Unapologetic gamer. Proud zombie nerd. Freelance pop culture scholar.

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