In September 1974, PAW reported on a few summer changes around the campus — renovations at Frick Laboratory, an expansion of the Third World Center, a reorganization of Witherspoon Hall, and the opening of a new Wawa Food Store in a former warehouse on University Place. The Wawa’s home was described in the story as “dilapidated” (before the new tenant’s arrival) and “Alamoesque” (after). Operating until midnight seven days a week, the store was an immediate hit among residents of Spelman and Princeton Inn College (later Forbes). In the years to come, it would pick up a nickname, “The Wa,” and a broad group of fans, including future TV star Ellie Kemper ’02, who penned an “Ode to Wawa” for PAW’s Humor Issue in January 2011. “Thank you for your ice cream, and your mostly turkey sandwiches, and your hilarious name,” Kemper wrote. “And for not hating me when I tell you that your pickle barrel is seriously alarming. But luckily for both of us, I am in the market for ice cream, not pickles. Until I am pregnant. And even then, I will love you just the same.”
Even when Wawa opened in 1974, the University had plans “to transform the area by the railroad station and McCarter Theatre into another hub of campus and town life,” PAW wrote. The latest incarnation of that idea, the Arts and Transit project, has spelled the end of the Wawa’s initial location, which will close tomorrow — and the construction of a new store, slated to open on the same day. Forty years later, Princeton students will once again be checking out the new Wawa.