Whether HBO’s Mare of Easttown, a show that depicts the people of the Philadelphia suburbs as quasi-incestuous cranks incapable of correctly pronouncing the letter “o,” has been good for them is a subject of some debate. (See: the comments on any Facebook post about “Murdur Durdur.”) But it has undoubtedly been good for their sandwiches. The show’s many references to Wawa, a quick-service chain beloved both for its hoagies and its status as a regional signifier, have put the humble store in the national spotlight. Star Kate Winslet has spent so much of her promo tour extolling its virtues that it’s tempting to wonder whether Wawa has been paying her under the table, either in cash or in Tastykakes.
But there could be so much more Wawa in Mare of Easttown. As of yet, there have been zero scenes set inside a Wawa, and zero scenes where characters debate the pressing issue of whether Wawa hoagies have indeed fallen off since their glory days. And unfortunately, the writers have also deprived us of one important piece of world-building: What’s everyone’s go-to sandwich order? A Wawa order can tell you a lot about a person, and without peering inside the bag, we might be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the actual creeps and weirdos, and people who are just … Pennsylvanians.
In the interest of filling this crucial backstory, Vulture has put together this sandwich dossier. By the power vested in my by the approximately 1,000 gallons of Wawa-brand lemonade-iced tea I’ve ingested in my lifetime, here is every character on Mare of Easttown’s Wawa order.
Detective Mare Sheehan: Ham-and-cheese hoagie
From what we’ve seen so far, Miss Ladyhawk appears to be something of a hoagie agnostic. Mostly she eats what’s in front of her, with no discernible preference for cold cuts or hot meat. (Unless it’s Guy Pearce’s — nice.) When she’s ordering for herself, I suspect she prizes simplicity. Something like a basic ham-and-cheese, probably? One thing I’m 100 percent certain of: She rolls her eyes at people who overcomplicate their hoagie orders.
Detective Colin Zabel: Cheesesteak
He’s trying so hard to fit the mold of the kind of person he’s expected to be. When he leaves the bar after a few too many boilermakers and stumbles into Wawa, he gets the same thing every time: cheesesteak, please. That’s what fun-loving Philly guys like him are supposed to get, right? Go Iggles! But every bite brings a tiny pang of sadness. Deep down, he knows that it’s all supposed to taste much better than this.
Siobhan Sheehan: Jalapeño cheese pretzel
Siobhan doesn’t follow your rules, okay? She’s not going to be complicit in your automated touchscreen lifestyle. She’s not gonna stand in line like a sheep. She’ll just nab a cheesy pretzel from the grab-and-go stand — jalapeño cheese, the only thing that can spice up this boring-ass town.
Richard Ryan: Italian hoagie
Richard Ryan strolls into a Wawa. Time to check out the local delicatessen, he thinks. But carefully. He must convince the locals he is one of them, and not what he actually is, which is, of course, an award-winning author from out of town. What kind of sandwich would mark him as an inhabitant of the Delaware Valley? He’s noticed these working-class white ethnics have a taste for cured meats that bear the hallmarks of Repubblica Italiana. Yes. That would do nicely. He strides confidently up to the counter: “The, uh … Italian combo please?”
Carrie Layden: Chicken cheesesteak
She’s getting better. Not like before, when she made all those terrible decisions. All that’s in the past. Now she’s happier. Healthier. She knows how to maintain control, and set boundaries. Sure, life might not be as exciting as it once was, but she doesn’t miss that terrible feeling of regret afterward.
Lori Ross: Turkey hoagie
Lori doesn’t have time for your bullshit. Why do people make life so much more difficult than it already is? There are enough troubles in the world. A simple turkey sandwich is fine by her.
Frank Sheehan: The Gobbler
Have you had the Gobbler? It’s an entire Thanksgiving meal, in a single sandwich. Subway, Panera, even Cosi have their own versions, but for Frank, nothing comes close to the Gobbler. It’s almost as good as the ones he fixes up the Saturday after Thanksgiving. You put the gravy on one piece of bread, cranberry sauce on the other; load it up with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and brussels sprouts; then put it in a panini press. Another classic from Chef Frank.
Dylan Hinchey: Chicken strips hoagie
Chicken strips hoagie, American cheese, barbecue sauce — the official Wawa order of dirtbag Pennsylvania teens from Lansdale to Lansdowne. (No offense to my brother, for whom this was the go-to sandwich.)
Faye: Veggie hoagie
Oh, Faye. What can we say about Faye? She’s perfectly nice, I suppose. You can see why, coming after Mare, she would be exactly what Frank needed. And yet, there’s also something a little too self-consciously good-for-you about her, right? She is the skim milk of people.
Brianna Delrassio: Meatball hoagie
Is it tasteful? No. Is it refined? Hell no. But nothing at Wawa packs a bigger wallop than the meatball sub. These meatballs are not actually better than the ones Brianna’s parents serve at their restaurant, but that doesn’t stop Brianna from saying that they are.
Helen: Egg salad hoagie
It’s upsetting, I know. Everything else she does is so delightful, and then she goes and orders this. The only explanation I can give you is that she comes from a different time, a time when Americans loved to slather absolutely everything they ate in mayonnaise. At least it goes with the juice boxes?
Kenny McMenamin: Roast beef hoagie
Don’t you dare get him a panini. It’s way too hot!
Deacon Mark Burton: Cheese hoagie
What kind of monster orders a cheese hoagie? I expect we’ll find out in the next couple of episodes!