If there’s one factor that Pennsylvania appears to have discovered, it’s potato chips. The state just isn’t solely the home base for a lot of mass-distributed snack manufacturers, together with Utz, Smart, Herr’s, and a number of Snyder’s (of Berlin and of Hanover), it’s additionally the place that many beloved regional chip firms, from Martin’s to Middleswarth, name dwelling.
If there’s one factor that Pennsylvania doesn’t appear to have discovered, it’s easy methods to hold an honest meals possibility open on the Breezewood interchange. This considerably miserable strip of gasoline stations and fast-food eating places that connects I-70 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike is acquainted to anybody who has ever traveled via the underside half of Pennsylvania towards factors additional east or west. As a Cleveland native with shut household in Pittsburgh, I’ve handed via Breezewood a couple of dozen instances every year since transferring to the D.C. space in 2004, so for higher or worse, I’ve grow to be intimately accustomed to the interchange’s (lack of) choices and the way they’ve advanced (learn: devolved) through the years. There was once a Wendy’s! And at the very least a Taco Bell! Sit-down choices reminiscent of Perkins and a traditional diner have additionally shuttered, although their skeletons nonetheless stay. Now Breezewood’s most noteworthy function is its Subplicity sandwich store’s use of Boar’s Head deli meat. In different phrases, these on the lookout for a full meal ought to in all probability head elsewhere. (May I like to recommend the Jean Bonnet Tavern, a historic bar in nearby-ish Bedford: it’s obtained a crackling hearth, a superb French dip, a historical past of ghosts, and two pet goats hanging out subsequent to its car parking zone.)
Criticism apart, Breezewood is clearly probably the most intuitive place round to cease for gasoline, a rest room break, and a few form of snack. “Snack” is the important thing phrase right here: due to its geographic location smack in the course of decrease Pennsylvania, about two hours west from the chip epicenter of Hanover, Breezewood is the proper intersection for a wide selection of the most effective potato chips the state has to supply, particularly for those who’re a barbecue chip connoisseur like I’m. Vacationers who cease at Breezewood can select between a Sunoco, Mobil, Shell, Marathon, or Sheetz for gasoline, however the actual transfer is to replenish on the station with the most effective potato chip choice.
I went into my analysis for this story with the idea that the Mobil gasoline station’s Vacationers’ Oasis Snack Shack deserved that specific designation. That also rings largely true, however on a latest go to, it grew to become clear that its stock has been barely streamlined, presumably because of the pandemic. On the brilliant facet, there’s more room between the aisles, and the place feels cleaner and far much less crowded. Despite the fact that I didn’t spot the Middleswarth or Snyder’s of Berlin manufacturers I used to be used to seeing there, I nonetheless was capable of finding Herr’s, Lay’s, Smart, Distinctive, Martin’s, Angie’s, Deep River, Bon Ton, and Wege of Hanover pretzels.
When you’re actually dedicated to regional chips, you’ll be able to increase your choices even additional at Breezewood’s different gasoline stations. On the Recent Mart connected to the Sunoco station (conveniently positioned subsequent door to the Mobil), there are at the very least 9 manufacturers — and oh, so many flavors — of chips, together with regional choices like Utz and Gibbles, the latter of which I hadn’t tried earlier than. I found it has a brilliant, if artificial-tasting, barbecue taste, greasy with lard.
If I wasn’t such a loyal fan of Martin’s — which, due to its texture and balanced taste, is the winner of my unofficial style take a look at of the Breezewood barbecue chip manufacturers — I might purchase the argument that this location has as a lot to suggest it because the Vacationers’ Oasis. However provided that the Sunoco is now the one Breezewood gasoline station to boast Snyder’s of Berlin (a thin-textured, significantly salty childhood favourite that my dad and mom would usually cowl with melted American cheese for a late-night snack), perhaps I’ve already satisfied myself.
Throughout the road from Sunoco, I discovered that Shell’s SAC snack store had not solely the elusive Middleswarth, a cult-favorite model whose chips are made crisp with the usage of shortening, but in addition two beautiful, enthusiastic cashiers who handily satisfied us to purchase some sweet to assist them place in a nationwide gross sales contest that their supervisor actually, actually, actually needed to win. Sheetz and Marathon didn’t carry something in the best way of extra regional chip manufacturers to the desk, although I’m certain Sheetz loyalists will discover a strategy to insert a “How dare you!” into this specific argument.
So, for those who’re touring via Pennsylvania and end up ravenous, but in addition elevating an eyebrow at Breezewood’s lack of eating choices, don’t fret; you’ve simply been given an ideal alternative to show precisely why chips for lunch — or dinner — is a very acceptable highway journey meal. A minimum of, once you’re within the chip capital of the nation.