Two boys eat Sheetz and live to tell the tale

James Germano

     Sheetz, ever since its grand opening in 1952, can’t seem to make up its mind on what it wants to be. It all started when Bob Sheetz and his brother bought one of their father’s dairy farms in Altoona, Penn. I can see the billboards now: “Welcome to beautiful Altoona, birthplace of Sheetz!” Then, 11 years later, they opened a store called Sheetz Kwik Shopper, and everyone laughed at their spelling difficulties. However, the Sheetz brothers would be laughing all the way to the bank. Eventually. 


     Then, in the ‘90s, Sheetz decided it would be a good idea to make its own soda brand, creatively named It! soda. Around five years later, It! was discontinued for “unknown reasons.” But let it not be said that the Sheetz family let this failure consume them. Instead, they created gas station fast-food. What else?

     So, is Sheetz a restaurant, a convenience store, a gas station, or a failed soda company that just lost its way? Well, it’s all of them — that was a stupid question. Perhaps a more effective inquiry would be: Is the food good? Yeah, that’s a lot better. 

     On the fateful night of Friday the 13th, the motley crew of Tom Collins, Thomas Margevich, Jen Frantz and I trekked to Sheetz to sample their offerings. Well, Tom and I were the only ones who ate any food, so I guess Jen and Thomas were there for moral support. Tom and I were admittedly nervous, as we had no idea what horrors the food at Sheetz would hold. Many questions ran through my head during that long drive, including, “What am I doing with my life?” and “Will this give me a bad case of the Sheetz?” Both of these questions will be answered in due time. 

     Upon arriving to the designated location, Tom and I made a bee-line to the cute little touch screens used to order the food. The pure novelty of these devices alone was worth the price of admission, which ended up being something ludicrous. Even though Sheetz is known for its modestly priced food, I managed to rack up a gnarly $15 check. Let it be known that James Germano is willing to abuse stacks of fat cash in order to eat convenience store foods. Someone remember to write that on my tombstone.

     Tom and I collectively acquired an impressive spread. Fries, popcorn chicken, more fries, deep fried Wisconsin cheese curds and hotdogs. Upon taking his first bite of a fry, Tom excitedly exclaimed, “WOW REAL POTATO,” in all caps. He wasn’t wrong. 

     One would be surprised to know that Sheetz actually makes their food to order. It’s true! I swear! The “freshness” of the ingredients can’t be vouched for, but you can actually see the chefs in the kitchen, slaving over your food. And if that wasn’t enough to impress me, the popcorn chicken was.

     Upon eating one of the delicious morsels, I looked to Tom and distinctly remember saying “Dude, this stuff’s great,” to which he responded, “WOW REAL CHICKEN,” in all caps. I then dunked one of the morsels into Sheetz’s signature Dr. Pepper™ barbecue sauce. This stuff is apparently all the rage, so I had to try it.

     After trying it, I threw up in my mouth. That stuff is revolting. But you know what wasn’t revolting? The fried cheese curds. Despite having enough grease to lube up the horizontal stabilizer of a Boeing 737, these tiny treats were packed with (heart-clogging) flavor. I gave one to Tom, who upon eating it proclaimed, “Wow, real cheese,” but not in all caps this time. 

     Tom then mustered up enough courage to delve into his hotdogs. Upon taking his first bite, the frown on his face was impossible to miss. A single tear fell from his eye; so much potential, so little satisfaction. Tom later told me that those hotdogs were probably the worst he’s ever had. You get what you pay for, I suppose – a $1 hotdog has no room for adequate flavor. 

     On retrospection, I would give my Sheetz experience a solid seven out of 10. Tom, on the other hand, would probably give his a six. The hotdogs crushed his heart and soul, but the fries and the cheese curds were well worth the pain. 

     Saying that I’m shocked is an understatement. When we went to get food from Sheetz, it was, at the time, a joke to us. But after eating the surprisingly decent food, I now see Sheetz for what it truly is: a convenience store that sells decent food. This will in no way replace the likes of Chick-Fil-A or Panera, but if you’re low on cash and need food fast (that was a near-rhyme), Sheetz seems like a satisfactory option.


2015-05-19 08:31:19