Skip to main content

Wawa, Inc. Public Relations photographs and audiovisual materials

1950-2008 Majority of material found within 1990-2003
Accession: 2008-212


Wawa is an American chain of convienence stores and gas stations located in the Middle Atlantic States and Florida, well-known for their made-to-order hoagies. The Wawa, Inc. Public Relations photographs and audiovisual materials primarily consists of photographic images and audio recordings of Wawa advertisements between 1994 and 2003 and video recordings intended for internal company communications for employee training, morale building, education, and communication of company policy; these are dated 1984 to 2008.


  • 1950-2008
  • Majority of material found within 1990-2003



31.5 Linear Feet

Historical Note

Wawa is an American chain of convienence stores and gas stations located in the Middle Atlantic States and Florida, well-known for their made-to-order hoagies. Wawa, Inc. dates back to 1803, when David Cooper Wood (1781-1859) established an iron furnace and foundry in Millville, New Jersey, to fabricate stove plates and iron pipe. Wood used his experience in the dry good trade and extensive business connections build Millville Furnace, as the business was then known, into a successful venture. Millville Furnace sold its wares in Philadelphia and southern New Jersey and even earned the commission to cast pipe for the second phase of Philadelphia's Fairmount water works in 1819 to 1822. David's brother Richard Davis Wood (1799-1869) assumed control of the business in 1851 and expanded the scope of its operations. In addition to enlarging the iron works, R.D. Wood built a cotton mill, glassworks, grist mill, sawmill, and a gasworks. R.D. Wood incorporated his enterprises as the Millville Manufacturing Company in 1865. George Wood (1842-1926), R.D.'s son, took over the business in 1869 and made textiles the primary focus. Millville Manufacturing soon became one of the area's leading producers of yarn, cloth, and finished cotton goods.

In 1892, George Wood bought a house in Wawa, Pennsylvania (Delaware County) known as "Red Roof" because of its distinctive roof color. The word "Wawa", from which the town takes its name, is a Lenni Lenape word for "wild goose" or "land of the big goose." Wawa stuck as a local name because of the large numbers of Canadian geese then living in the lower Delaware River valley. Wood later acquired several tracts of land adjacent to the Red Roof property on which he built a dairy and milk processing plant. George officially opened this new venture, called Wawa Dairy Farms, in 1902. The Wawa Dairy Farms specialized in home delivery of milk and quickly earned a reputation for high-quality "certified" dairy products. Wawa Dairy Farms' markets included Philadelphia and lower New Jersey. By 1945, the dairy had become one of the most successful aspects of George Wood's business ventures, all of which were incorporated into the Millville Manufacturing Company.

By the early 1960s, both the dairy and textile divisions of Millville Manufacturing Company were on the decline. A combination of the increased use of synthetic fibres and the textile industry's move to the South (where labor and materials costs were less) made Millville's textile operations unprofitable. (The company liquidated the textile and other manufacturing aspects of the business during the 1960s.) Wawa Dairy Farms lost ground due to decreased demand for home milk delivery and increased competition from supermarkets.

Grahame Wood (1915-1982), George Wood's grandson, took the opportunity to revitalize Millville Manufacturing Company by focusing entirely on the dairy. After doing research on convenience stores, Grahame convinced Millville's board of directors to enter retail food sales to tap into the growing consumer demand for quick and easy shopping and as an outlet for Wawa Dairy Farms products. On 16 April 1964, Wood opened the first Wawa Food Market in Folsom, Pennsylvania. The store became an almost instant success by selling deli meats, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and other grocery goods in a convenience store setting. By the end of 1964, Wood built two additional Wawa stores to capitalize on the first store's popularity.

Wawa Food Markets grew throughout the 1970s, opening stores in eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, and Maryland. Wawa stores continued selling dairy and other fresh food products and added food service departments that made sandwiches and other hot foods. In 1977, Richard "Dick" Wood, Jr. (Grahame's second cousin, b. 1938) became president of Wawa Food Markets, eventually taking over as CEO in 1981. Dick Wood presided over Wawa's continued growth during the 1980s and 1990s, which included adding coffee to the stores' list of products; expanding the line of hoagies and other foodservice products (Wawa led a 1992 campaign to get the hoagie named the official sandwich of Philadelphia); introducing a myriad of technological innovations to product control, store management, and foodservice; and adding gasoline pumps to many stores. Wawa eventually closed all of its stores in Connecticut but built additional stores within their existing market areas and expanded operations into tidewater Virginia. By 2007, Wawa operated over 570 stores in five states.

Wawa Food Markets are now called Wawa, Inc., and is not under the umbrella of Millville Manufacturing Company. (Millville Manufacturing had been dissolved, don't know exactly when.) The company is privately owned by descendents of George Wood and participants in the Employee Stock Ownership Plan. In 2004, Howard Stoeckel (1945-) became CEO of Wawa, Inc. and is the first person who is not a member of the Wood family to hold the position. Dick Wood, who remained as Chairman of the Board, and other Wood family members retained key management positions.

Scope and Content

Collection consists of audiovisual material received as part of Wawa, Inc.'s public relations files. Material is separated into three series by format: I. Photographs, slides, and transparencies (includes oversize); II. Audio materials; and III. Video materials.

Series I, Photographs, slides, and transparencies primarily contains images of products used in Wawa advertisements between 1994 and 2003, including milk and dairy products, coffee and cold beverages, hoagies and deli products, and hot prepared foods. Most of these are transparencies or slides; some later pictures exist as digital images only, stored as JPEG files on photo CDs. This series also contains images of Wawa convenience stores, both interior and exterior shots, dating from the 1950s through 2008. Most of these images are photographic prints or 35mm slides.

Series II, Audio materials consists of mostly cassettes and compact discs containing master copies of Wawa radio advertisements or concept recordings for advertisements, jingles, and theme music. The majority of these recordings are dated between 1990 and 2003; there is one cassette dated 1982.

Series III, Video materials is divided into four subseries: Internal Communications, WATV, External Media, and TV Commercials. Video formats present include VHS, Betacam SP, other Beta formats, and DVD. Internal Communications videos are mostly internally generated videos for employee training, morale building, education, and communication of company policy; these are dated 1984 to 2008. WATV videos consist of an internal series of videos (called WATV) created for Wawa associates intended to educate employees and build morale by communicating information about the company, associate incentive programs, and company products. These date mostly to 2001 to 2006, with some compilation videos showing WATV highlights from 1995 to 1997. External Media items are videos or clips about Wawa, Inc. or Wawa employees from externally generated sources, including news broadcasts, telethons and charity events, and celebrity endorsements; dates are 1989 to 2006. TV Commercials are master tapes of Wawa TV commercials, concepts for TV commercials, rough edits of commercials, footage of competitors' ads, and casting footage for Wawa ads. Most date between 1979 and 2003, though a small number are undated.

Existence and Location of Copies

View selected items online in the Hagley Digital Archives.

Access Restrictions

Some records less than twenty-five years old are closed to researchers. please contact staff in advance of research visit at for instructions on how to apply for access to material.

Litigators may not view the collection without approval.

Use Restrictions

Literary rights retained by depositor.

Some audio from Series II has been digitized. Please contact the Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives department for access.

Related Material

Wawa, Inc. Public Relations files (Accession 2401), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Language of Materials


Additional Information

Additional Description


On Deposit from Wawa, Inc.

Related Names


Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Wawa, Inc. Public Relations photographs and audiovisual materials
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
Script of description:

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Audiovisual Collections Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA