Gas Station Cuisine: Great Bargains and Hidden Gems
Just imagine: You’re driving down the road, and that little yellow light comes on signaling you’re out of gas. Finding the cheapest place to fill up may be your number one priority, but knowing the best gas station to get a quick, cheap and delicious snack should influence your decision as well. The Hess station in South Amherst, Mass., the 7-Eleven in Sunderland, Mass., and the Cumberland Farms on College Street are great places where you can fill up your tank while tackling your hunger.
The Hess station in South Amherst, Mass., is open 24/7, and has a Subway sandwich shop inside. This particular Subway offers monthly deals to college students with a student ID. In the past, they have offered six-inch veggie delights and meatball subs for just $2 a piece; this month, they are offering BLTs and Italian sandwiches for the same deal.
However, the hot dogs are probably the least appetizing here compared to the other three destinations. Whether you go at 9 a.m. or 10 p.m., their hot dogs are rolling away on the cooker, shriveled to the point where they look like a dead man’s finger. The condiment selection is limited to the standard ketchup, mustard and relish. Their frozen food selection is also lacking, mainly confined to Stouffer’s TV dinners and Hot Pockets. The strengths of the Hess station are definitely the Subway station, free air for your tires and the 32 oz. Powerade bottles which sell for a buck a piece, perfect to inexpensively restore those electrolytes after a long night.
The 7-11 by Seven O’s in Sunderland, Mass., is also open 24/7 and an excellent destination to get a gas station hot dog. For 99 cents, you can purchase a hot dog with all the fixings, including free chili and cheese, questionably fresh vegetables such as onions, sauerkraut, jalapenos and tomatoes, as well as all the favorites – ketchup, mustard and relish. They even stock spicy mustard packets for the bolder bunch.
Station-goers can also choose from a variety of freshly made sandwiches, 10 oz. chicken parmesan subs or a breakfast sandwich. All contain generous amounts of meat, condiments and surprisingly fresh vegetables. A personal favorite is the microwaveable 14 oz. “bomb” burritos that satisfy even Suge Knight’s hunger. Go-go taquitos are another staple of the 7-11 diet, and can’t be missed when stopping by one of these highway oases. Flavors range from jalapeno cheddar to steak and cheese.
In addition to the fresh sandwiches and burritos – which are thawed, not frozen – the rest stop has the widest selection of bottled beverages that simply can’t be found elsewhere. Calypso lemonade and Celsius green tea calorie burners are just a couple of the rare and delicious beverages sold here. If the delicious food and bottled beverages weren’t enough to sell you, this 7-11 also has a selection of slushies to keep you cooled down in the summertime.
The weak points of 7-11, however, are the frozen food and slushie selection. The Hess station mentioned above lacks in slushie variety as well, showing that the superior destination for a slushie will always be Cumberland Farms.
For only 79 cents for any sized drink, a driver can swing into a Cumberland Farms and purchase a slushie to go. The reason why Cumby’s slushies are vastly superior to 7-11 slushies lies in what is known as the “NRG Kick.” This heaven-sent slushie is not only the best tasting frozen sugar and water blend in the world, but it also contains caffeine. This wake-up blast is one of the best mixers around to mask vodka, so cheap it can double as paint thinner.
The Cumby’s on College Street near Michael’s Billiards offers a glimpse into what all Cumby’s stations will be in the coming years. This station is open all day and night, and features hot food all the time. The hot dog selection is the best you’ll find around town, including traditional tube steaks as well as the cheddar-stuffed Hillshire Farms kind. Cumby’s also offers a Dunkin Donuts-style menu that includes breakfast sandwiches and hash browns anytime. If you opt for one of the fresh Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches, an 8 oz. El Monterey burrito, or an Italian sausage, the attendants will even heat them up. Other great deals include $2 quarts of sherbet, and two-liter colas for only a buck. Their brand-new coffee machine offers all sizes of coffee, lattes or cappuccinos for only a dollar per cup, as well.
If what you crave is a hot dog, your best bets are at a Cumby’s or 7-11. But if it’s a Subway sandwich you’re seeking, swing down to the Hess station in South Amherst, Mass. The best variety of late-night food goes in favor of Cumby’s. No matter what you’re craving any time of the day or night, it’s a relief to know that late-night munchies are just a gas stop away.
Brendan Murphy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.