When I go back home from Oklahoma City, I look for a marker along I-44 that tells me I’m back in my home country.
This sign defines the border between Green Country and the rest of Oklahoma. There are actually several of these markers in Tulsa, and friends insist having at least one meal from one of the locations when they return from out-of-state, and my dad has a mental map pinpointing where each sign in town is.
These places are so beloved, I have declared them Embassies of Tulsa.
The marker on I-44 belongs to the first QuikTrip store I can see from the highway, and it’s on 61st St.
I’m not sure how a gas station became a city icon. The first QT did open in Tulsa, but it’s become a chain, spreading from Arizona to Illinois to Georgia (Atlanta currently has the most locations of any metro area).
Perhaps it’s their summer drink specials (32 oz. pop for 49 cents) or their amazing hot dogs (2 for $1), or their coffee and doughnut combo deals (which I can’t tell you the price of right now).
Maybe it’s because the bathrooms are usually spacious, and always clean, or there are so many gas pumps you’re almost guaranteed one as soon as you drive into the parking lot.
Or maybe Tulsans prefer QuikTrip just because no matter where you go in town, it’s RIGHT THERE.
I started suffering QuikTrip withdrawals quickly when I first moved to Oklahoma City.
The 7-11s and Shells just don’t cut it. Fortunately there are a few OnCue’s around here, which have similar interiors to QT, clean bathrooms, and a bajillion gas pumps. OnCue even has self-serve frozen yogurt, which I haven’t seen in any other gas station.
But even OnCue can’t be on par with QuikTrip in my heart.
Another question: Why do so many gas stations in OKC have such tiny parking lots?
Three-quarters of the gas stations I’m familiar with have 2 to 4 pumps, and to fill up you have to park parallel to the road. It’s hard to drive past the pumps while people are filling up, and if someone wants to wait behind another car for a pump, they end up blocking the entrance.
It’s a horrible design, and I think it’s stupid.
So is adoration of QuikTrip a local phenomena? A quick survey around the office suggests that non-Tulsans are pretty ‘meh’ about it — it’s just another gas station.
But I did get one response that suggests iconism of a gas station isn’t limited to Green country. [Senior Writer] Sarah Hussain mentioned QT reminds her of Wawa’s, a convenience store chain on the east coast that she really likes.
I don’t know if my question will ever be resolved.
But now I really want a hot dog.
Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed in this blog are the opinions of Mary McAtee and do not reflect the opinions or views of any other Pioneer employees.
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