pounds. I didn’t need to lose any weight, of course, but I
did notice increased definition in my midsection, arms
I was almost sad to see the experiment end, because it
added a simplicity to my life that I rather enjoyed: Visit
a c-store, open MyFitnessPal and scan the barcodes on
whatever I purchased, and use that data to make informed
decisions throughout the rest of my day.
Eating exclusively at convenience stores, it turned out,
actually made my life more convenient.
Challenges and Opportunities
This doesn’t mean my journey was without its challenges.
Locating vegetables was often difficult, for example. I
found them at large chains like Sheetz and Kwik Trip, but
rarely inside smaller stores. This is concerning because
consumer surveys show that folks are increasingly turning
to c-stores not just for snacks, but for actual meals. It
doesn’t make sense to exclude an entire food group.
I know there’s concerns with spoilage, of course, but why
not consider frozen, steamable veggies? I recently purchased
a 12-ounce bag of broccoli from the frozen food section at
HyVee, emptied half of it into a Ziploc “Zip n’ Steam” bag, and
fired up the microwave at the HyVee Gas across the parking lot.
It took two minutes—roughly the same time as those ubiquitous, half-pound burritos. Develop some single-serving packs,
offer four or five seasoning choices at the existing condiments
station—or better yet, work with local spice companies to offer
their products—and voilà: a simple, low-spoilage method for
Whether you do that or something else, you have to spread
the word. I frequently chose stores based upon split-second
decisions at intersections, and I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of
great choices since there’s often no way of knowing what’s
inside. Or rather, I know there’s 79-cent big gulps for sale
because it says so on the front of the building, but fruit,
veggies or high-quality food? Not so much.
That’s why you have to shout it loud and proud. Take
Pilot’s PJ Fresh locations, for example: modern logo, use
of the word “fresh,” large pictures of healthful food on the
sides of the buildings—there’s no question what you’ll find
inside. Or just keep it simple. Stick a sign in the grass near
the road, attach a few to the gas pumps or hang a banner
from the front of the store—tell people what you sell.
After all, there’s real innovation taking place in the
c-store industry, and it’s a shame that more folks aren’t
aware. Here’re some examples of what I encountered:
• Sheetz sells numerous, high-quality options of whatever
you’re looking for. If you want a snack bar, they have the
delicious, low-sugar brands I often see at high-end grocery
stores. If you’re struggling to kick the sugary-soda habit,
they have nearly every flavor of Perrier. Want an actual
meal? Their made-to-order menu is fully customizable and
goes far beyond the typical pizza and sandwich options.
If you reach the register and decide you want something
Has anyone else had these Pressed by Kind bars? I think they taste really good! #healthyliving
Here’s a photo from Harbor Wholesale’s 2016 Summit. I spoke to independent c-store owners about
my “ 30 days” journey and I shared examples of innovation that I encountered along the way. It was
encouraging to hear about the different ways they are making healthy food available to their customers.
“Rather than the c-store
industry being the antagonist
to my story, I found fruit,
vegetables, healthy made-to-