It's easy for those of us in New Jersey and Pennsylvania to take some very common things for granted... say, getting a hoagie at Wawa.

But what happens when Wawa opens its first store far away from its home base and they have to introduce things like hoagies and Shortis to new folks?

Grab a snack 'cause this is gonna be entertaining.

Now, those of us who have grown up with Wawa know it's where you go for the staples of everyday life: coffee, snacks, and hoagies. And gas, too. And air pumps (when they work).

If you're like me, you have your Wawa routine down to a science: I can speed-order a hoagie at the kiosk because I've practically memorized where all of the buttons are on the screen (if Wawa was smart, they'd hold a competition to see who can order a hoagie the fastest) and while they're making it, I'll grab a bag of chips and a drink, pay for it, and by the time I'm done, they're done making it, and I can be out the door in about eight hot seconds.

That likely won't be the case in Alabama for a while.

Wawa Opens Its First Store in Alabama

This past Thursday, Wawa opened its first store in Alabama in the town of Fairhope (not too far from Mobile) and to cover the event, a reporter with AL.com visited the store to experience first-hand what we from around here do on a daily basis.

Wawa opens in Fairhope Alabama
Wawa opens in Fairhope Alabama - Photo: Google Maps / Canva
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As I was reading the article, I chuckled quite a few times.

Perhaps the best way to go through it is line by line, comparing a Wawa newbie to someone who grew up having the chain's DNA embedded in my soul.

Old Wawa in Williamstown NJ - Photo: Google Maps
Old Wawa in Williamstown NJ - Photo: Google Maps
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Let's start with the kiosk.

At Thursday’s grand opening, I tackled Wawa’s fancy hi-tech ordering system on my own to come up with two more sandwiches more tailored to my personal taste.

The "hi-tech ordering system?" It's a freakin' touch screen with pictures of sandwiches on it. I'm already rolling my eyes...

Is this the sandwich rapture? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say no. Throughout Lower Alabama, fast-food diners are spoiled for choice when it comes to subs. Prominent options include Subway...

Yes, our reporter friend here used the words "spoiled" and "Subway" in adjacent sentences.

White House Special from White House Subs in Atlantic City NJ - Photo: Chris Coleman
White House Special from White House Subs in Atlantic City NJ - Photo: Chris Coleman
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Now, I have nothing at all against Subway — it is what it is in the world of hoagies/subs — but, relatively speaking, Wawa and Subway are not on the same level (those of you that live and die by the mind-blowing hoagies/subs you get at your local mom-and-pop corner deli are about to yell at me -- but I think you know what I mean).

But is it really worth learning a new word for sub (if you live in most of the state) or po-boy (if you’re south of Atmore)? Yes. Yes it is. The hoagies are all right.

"Hoagie" is a new word -- that's funny.

Heads-up people of Alabama: Wawa has "hoagiefest." Don't expect "po-boyfest" anytime soon.

What you do is, you walk up to a kiosk in front of the deli counter and start making choices.

You know how new drivers that are just getting behind the wheel of a car have those giant "STUDENT DRIVER" signs? We need something like those for the people visiting Wawa for the first time in Alabama.

A marketing manager for Wawa was assisting the reporter through the ordering process and then explained what you do after you finish your order...

You take this up to the register. Maybe you go and get yourself a soft drink or a bag of chips. You go up and you pay. In that time that it takes you to kind of go around and do your thing, you come back [to the deli counter] and 90% of the time you’re ready to go.

That's true. If the Wawa you are at is firing on all cylinders and the crew is in a rhythm, you'll be amazed at how fast a custom-ordered hoagie can be made.

The AL.com reporter then went on to rank several different hoagies that he got.

In summary, he was not thrilled with Wawa's Italian hoagie, although he admits he did not customize it much ("I could see how I might turn it into something better, next time..."). The same was said about the turkey hoagie that he got -- it needed more stuff.

His culinary mood began to improve with Wawa's Buffalo Chicken Cheesesteak ("Here’s where Wawa started to impress"), the meatball sub ("Look, y’all, Wawa makes a mean meatball"), and the Honey Hot BLT Club Sandwich.

With that said, perhaps I can offer a few tips.

What Alabama Needs to Know About Wawa From a New Jersey Native

Here's your Wawa cheat sheet...

  • The hoagies are good. They're not "subs," "grinders," or any other term -- they're "hoagies."
  • Wawa will become your go-to. Hungry at noon? Go to Wawa. Up partying all night and it's 3 AM and you're hungry? Go to Wawa. Going to the beach? Run into Wawa.
  • Wawa's coffee is top-notch. They give it away for free once and a while. When that happens, plan your day around it.
A tray of Wawa coffee
A tray of Wawa coffee (Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ)
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  • Speaking of "things," prepare now for hoagiefest.
  • And while you're at it, get ready for The Gobbler, too. Imagine all of your Thanksgiving favorites on a hoagie roll. You know that turkey and stuffing sandwich you have right after Thanksgiving dinner? This is it.
  • Wawa has free air pumps. There's a 50/50 chance they'll actually work when you need one (let's be honest, it probably won't work when you really need it).
  • Speaking of, the air pumps are in Wawa's parking lot. Once y'all get the hang of it, you'll learn how insane a Wawa parking lot can be. Forget any driving test you have ever taken -- if you can survive a Wawa parking lot, you're good to go.
Air pump at Wawa - Photo: Google Maps
Air pump at Wawa - Photo: Google Maps
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  • Don't leave your car at the gas pump and run into the store to get a hoagie. Pump gas then get food, not pump gas and get food.
  • And let us know when people start using the top of their trash cans as a picnic table (don't ask...).
Wawa gas pump sign - Photo: Chris Coleman/Townsquare Media
Wawa gas pump sign - Photo: Chris Coleman/Townsquare Media
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  • As Wawa expands, don't be surprised to have multiple stores in one town. I think my hometown has three or four of them and I pass, like, seven or eight just going to work every day.
  • The breakfast sandwiches are pretty damn good, too. Try the pork roll and— wait a minute... do they have pork roll in Alabama? Is Wawa introducing pork roll and hoagies to a new state?! Oh, the humanity...

Wawa Workers Reveal the Weirdest Orders They've Ever Made

With a zillion different options available at the ordering kiosk, you're bound to get some rather unique combinations of food.

Gallery Credit: Chris Coleman

NJ Wawa fans offer 15 suggestions to make their stores better

Gallery Credit: Chris Coleman

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