In HBO’s hit series Mare of Easttown, the most upstanding Delco character to come out of the show may just have been Wawa. It never killed anyone. Or planted drugs. Wawa was just always there in the background, serving up coffee, hoagies, and a chance for the stars to flex their Delco accents.
In return for all the love the Delaware County-based convenience store chain received on the locally set detective series — and from all the love it got from the cast and crew in interviews — Wawa is hosting a Mare of Easttown Day on Thursday at the opening of its new store at 418 W. Baltimore Pike in Upper Darby (nobody tell Detective Zabel’s mom, she’ll just crash it and go around slapping all the touch screens).
When doors to the store open at 8 a.m., the first 100 customers will receive free coffee and a limited-edition Wawa Delco shirt (aw, what, you didn’t get your own Wawa shirt, Montco? Well that’s probably because you cry when someone throws a gallon of milk through your window. In Delco, that’s just a Tuesday).
From June 10 to 17, all 42 Delco stores in the chain — and only the Delco stores — will also feature a limited-edition Mare of Easttown Spicy Cheesesteak as “a nod to how spicy the show is,” according to a news release. It will consist of beefsteak, spicy pepper relish, and cheddar cheese sauce (though we’d argue that it should be garnished with cheeseballs topped with Cheese Whiz, as Mare would want it).
At the Upper Darby store grand opening, Chester County Detective Christine Bleiler, who was Kate Winslet’s “go-to person” for advice and one of the show’s technical advisers, will order and build the first Mare of Easttown Spicy Cheesesteak at 8:45 a.m.
Seems about right for Delco. Nothing to get you going for the day like a cheesesteak before 9 a.m.
In interviews about the show, costar Evan Peters called Wawa “incredible,” and British Oscar winner Kate Winslet (aka a bona fide fancy pants) said Wawa seemed like “a mythical place” that “was the heart of Delco.”
And our heart will go on and on, girl.
In the show, which has been referred to as Hoagie Broadchurch by fans and “Murder Durder” by Saturday Night Live, Wawa coffee helps break the ice between Mare (who takes hers with two creamers, no sugar) and Detective Colin Zabel. The store’s hoagie wrappers and plastic bags make a few cameos as well.
Wawa spokesperson Lori Bruce said the chain is “proud and humbled to be a part of such an authentic and heartfelt show that honors our region and shines a light on its unique culture.”
Even the show’s costume designer got her inspiration by scoping out customers at area Wawas, which is probably why half the characters in the series always look like they just woke up.
Local comedian Nick Kupsey, a native of Upper Darby and the author of the e-book The Five People You Meet in Wawa said the costume design on Mare of Easttown was so authentic it seemed like the characters were “plucked right from the line at Wawa.”
“Tired. Haggard. Stressed,” he said. “Mare’s character particularly gave off a ‘leave me ... alone’ vibe that some customers give off while standing in line behind them.”
Kupsey said seeing Wawa products so much on the show hammered home to him that the store appeals well beyond its regional footprint now, but that Wawa is still “the perfect accoutrement that speaks to the quotidian grimness of Delco”
“Seeing Mare and other police officers handling Wawa products was spot-on in regard to accurately portraying police officers, in particular, and the denizens of Delco, in general,” he said. “That gave the show authenticity.”
Following a 9 a.m. ribbon cutting at the Upper Darby store on Thursday, members of the Upper Darby Police and Fire Departments will compete in a hoagie-making competition, with each receiving $1,000 to donate to a charity of their choice.
Wawa will also donate $10,000 to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for a web series that will help families and caregivers identify behavioral health concerns in kids from preschool to college, given Mare of Easttown’s “commitment to raising awareness about mental health issues,” a news release said.