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Sheetz or Wawa? This Pittsburgher's documentary will examine Pennsylvanians' loyalties

Renatta Signorini
| Thursday, April 19, 2018, 12:51 p.m.
File photos
The Sheetz in Parnassus photographed on Monday, Sept. 15, 2014.
Erica Dietz | Trib Total Media
The Sheetz in Parnassus photographed on Monday, Sept. 15, 2014.

A filmmaker is planning a documentary about one of the many debated aspects of Pennsylvania's interstate rivalry between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

No, it's not whether the NHL's Penguins or Flyers are better. With the Pens up 3 games to 1 in the Stanley Cup playoffs, there doesn't appear to be much debate over that.

The rivalry to be explored in the documentary: Sheetz versus Wawa .

"The rivalry is not between the stores, the rivalry is really between the fans," said Matthew Fridg, a Pittsburgh-based filmmaker behind the documentary.

Fridg hopes to answer the age-old question of which gas station and convenience store is superior with help from taste tests and the "fiercely loyal" fans in Western and Eastern Pennsylvania where the chains are based.

"I'm not trying to tear one business down," Fridg said. "Both businesses have very good community and employee relations. I want to showcase and really celebrate that aspect of them."

The Altoona-based Sheetz has nearly 600 stores in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. Wawa, based in southeastern Pennsylvania's Delaware County, has stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida.

Fridg came up with the documentary idea a few months ago and has been doing research and gathering support for each of the chains through social media and a website.

He said he plans to focus on a few aspects:

• The history of both companies.

• Stories from fans about their store of choice.

• A journey that attempts to determine "once and for all" which chain is actually the best.

"We'll take it seriously, but it will always be in good fun," Fridg said.

He is developing the idea and looking for project financing. The final product could be released next year.

In the meantime, fans can weigh in on the project's poll and sign up for a newsletter.

For Western Pennsylvanians who think Fridg's roots here will mean an automatic win for Sheetz, think again.

"I think for the purpose of the documentary, I'm really going to have to set aside the history of where I grew up," said Fridg, who has been to both stores. "The best thing I can do is kind of take a step back."

He suspects that won't appease Wawa loyalists.

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374, or via Twitter @byrenatta.

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