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November 02, 2016


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Piggly-Wiggly anyone?

Cecily: It crossed my mind to include Piggly Wiggly in this post, but I decided to stick with the name in current headlines. But since you brought it up, Piggy Wiggly, founded in 1916 in Memphis by Clarence Saunders, calls itself "America's first true self-service grocery store." The company headquarters today are in Keene, New Hampshire; there are more than 530 stores in 17 states. According the company's website:

"Saunders' reason for choosing the intriguing name 'Piggly Wiggly®' remains a mystery; he was curiously reluctant to explain its origin. One story says that, while riding a train, he looked out his window and saw several little pigs struggling to get under a fence, which prompted him to think of the rhyme. Someone once asked him why he had chosen such an unusual name for his organization, to which he replied, 'So people will ask that very question.'"

As a native King of Prussian, "Wawa" not only doesn't sound weird - it's beloved, and fairly ubiquitous. It's a popular spot to grab a hoagie, speaking of odd-sounding regionalisms.

I do object to you implying Sheetz is in the greater Philadelphia area. There's a great regional divide between Wawa country (Eastern PA) and Sheetz country (Western PA), and Philadelphians and Pittsburghians will argue over which is the better one. There's very little overlap in their markets.

SamC: Apologies for my faulty geography! I've amended the sentence.

"Wawa" would almost certainly be mocked if it were, say, the name of a new tech company. (Google was initially derided as a baby-talk name.) Success and familiarity can work wonders in burnishing a name's image.

It's apparently an easy mistake to make - I was reminded after posting that Sheetz is actually "everywhere but Southeast PA" not just Western PA. Apologies to any Scranton brethren reading these comments!

Here's the map of the Sheetz/Wawa divide from the NYT itself:

Shouldn't those wings be "Chickensheetz"?

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