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Wawa Public Relations files

1950-2009 Majority of material found within 1964-2004
Accession: 2401


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 Public Relations files consists primarily of financial and operations records, advertising materials, Wawa product packaging, company newsletters, and press clippings.


  • 1950-2009
  • Majority of material found within 1964-2004



24.6 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.


The Wawa Public Relations files are arranged into seven series, organized by document or medium type. Items are arranged chronologically within each series.

Scope and Content

The Wawa Public Relations files consists primarily of financial and operations records, advertising materials, Wawa product packaging, company newsletters, and press clippings. Although these files do not provide a detailed picture of Wawa's finances and internal operations, they allow for a fairly comprehensive view of the company's management philosophy, public relations efforts, internal communications to employees, advertising strategies, and the process of package design.

Financial and Operations documents series deals with the operations of the Wawa Food and Farm Markets (convenience stores). These items include yearly general ledgers and financial statements, lease invoices, lists of assets, monthly statements of operations (often by store), freight invoices, payroll records, merchandise reports, and various other operations reports. Most of the records are in their original bound format, although many have been placed in folders and labeled with original titles. For boxes 3 to 5, "Statement of Operations," "Financial Work Papers," "Store Profit & Loss," "Supplemental Information to Financial Statements," and "Financial Statements" refer to the same types of records. The series is arranged chronologically within each record type (i.e., financial statements and merchandise reports).

Packaging series contains examples of Wawa product packaging, proofs and renderings of packaging artwork, and documents that trace the process of packaging design. In the mid 1990s, Wawa redesigned much of the packaging for their dairy and juice products (such as milk, ice cream, and flavored teas). A majority of items deal with these design changes, particularly the artwork for drink and ice cream cartons. These items also illustrate Wawa's interaction with various marketing, container, and supply companies that helped with the packaging redesign. Examples of these companies are Richard P. Ritter, Inc. (advertising and marketing firm), Turkey Hill Dairy, Sweetheart Cup Company, and container companies like Potlatch, Champion International, Westvaco, and Tetra Pak. The Packaging Series is divided into two Subseries: Containers and Design. The Containers Subseries includes examples of containers and artwork, and artwork proofs and renderings. The Design Subseries contains proofs, and containers that were part of the design process.

The Advertising and promotion Series includes Wawa advertising materials and items dealing with the process of developing advertisements and promotions. Materials in this series document much of Wawa's advertising and promotions efforts throughout the 1990's. Examples of the items found in this series include FSI's (Free Standing Inserts; double sided 8 1/2 × 11 sheets typically inserted in newspapers and bulk mailings); POS items (Point of Sale; advertisements positioned literally at the point of sale, usually by cash registers, on walls and windows, or hung from ceilings); manager's packets issued in conjunction with advertising or promotional campaigns; advertising proofs; and internal corporate documents concerning advertising and promotions.

The Miscellaneous documents series is a conglomeration of materials about Wawa, company management, company activities, and Wawa CEO Richard D. 'Dick' Wood, Jr. A majority of these items were generated by Wawa management. Examples include company history fliers, internal communications and manuals, documents from litigation against Wawa, and various other materials about Wawa stores and personnel. Although these materials are not management documents per se, they help supplement an understanding of Wawa's system of management and give insight into Wawa stores founder Grahame Wood and his successor, Dick Wood.

The Press clippings series consists of articles from magazines and newspapers about Wawa. A majority of the pieces come from periodicals in areas where there are or were Wawa stores (Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia). These writings cover a variety of topics, including store associates, philanthropic activities, store promotions, development, and opinion/editorial pieces about Wawa and American convenience stores. Some of the articles come from trade journals and deal with various aspects of Wawa's operations such as marketing, selling gasoline, management philosophy, and merchandising. Includes articles on "Hot, Hot, Hot" advertising campaign and the creation of "Hoagie Day".

The Company newsletters series consists of newsletters Wawa published for its employees between 1980 and 2007. The newsletters cover such topics as employee benefits, physical expansion, new products, employee incentive plans, new technologies used in stores and throughout the company's various divisions, Wawa's charity and philanthropic activities, and incidental information about the company's executives, especially Richard D. 'Dick' Wood, Jr. Wawa's newsletters underwent several alterations, each with a new title and revised format. The titles included in this collection are: The Honker, Nobody Does it Better, Wawa Vision, My Wawa, and UNO. Newsletters in the first folder, Box 25, Your Health & Fitness, Safety Edition were distributed to employees but not published by Wawa. The item in the second folder, Box 25, is an internally generated newsletter, but not part of the larger serial series contained in this collection. Arranged chronologically and by title; newer titles supersede older ones. In many cases the newsletter edition numbers are not accurate, making it necessary to go by title and date for identification.

The Textiles and objects series includes hats, aprons, tee shirts, and buttons generated by Wawa. A majority of the objects concern Wawa's annual "Hoagie Day" promotions held in and around Philadelphia.

Access Restrictions

25-year time seal from the date of creation due to privacy/security reasons.

Litigators may not view the collection without approval.

Use Restrictions

Literary rights reserved by depositor.

Language of Materials


Additional Information

Additional Description


On Deposit from Wawa, Inc.

Separated Material

Wawa, Inc. audiovisual materials (Accession 2008.212), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Related Names


Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Wawa Public Relations files
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
Script of description:

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA