UPDATE: After an intense reaction on social media, Sheetz has decided to continue sourcing its pepperoni rolls from a West Virginia supplier.
"We want our customers to know that we listen to their feedback and truly take their opinions into consideration. Our goal is to ensure that pepperoni rolls made in West Virginia are in every Sheetz location in West Virginia. We are currently evaluating many potential West Virginia-based partners to fulfill this need. These new partnerships will allow for a more consistent offer and ultimately a better customer experience. We thank our West Virginia customers for their honest feedback and their support during this evaluation process," a Sheetz spokesperson told CSP Daily News.
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. -- Sheetz Inc. is receiving some backlash after a Clarksburg, W.Va., bakery said the convenience-store chain said it would no longer sell locally made pepperoni rolls--a Mountain State favorite and unofficial state food.
Michael Mazza, co-owner of Rogers & Mazza’s Bakery, which sells pepperoni rolls to 117 Sheetz c-stores, told WCHS that Sheetz is shifting to a “warehouse” program, and would get its pepperoni rolls from one source, from outside the state of West Virginia.
Mazza posted the following comment on its Facebook
"Rogers and Mazza's just lost all Sheetz stores because they decided to go with an out of state pepperoni roll company... Pepperoni rolls were invented in WV and WV pepperoni rolls should remain in their stores! ... I would suggest and appreciate everyone writing this company with their displeasure on their decision ...this will cost jobs for people at our bakery along with other bakeries in the area who will also lose these accounts! we are extremely disappointed beyond belief...... PLEASE SHARE THIS POST WITH FELLOW WEST
VIRGINIANS in hopes of keeping our product and our friends at other bakeries in the Sheetz Stores...Thank you."
He also started a Change.org petition to change the retailer's mind.
"WV pepperoni rolls are a staple of local industry. Please reconsider, and support a WV business," one consumer posted on the Sheetz Facebook page
in response to the news, representative of many such comments.
Others vowed to stop patronizing the c-store chain.
After the backlash on social media, Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz issued the following statement:
"Sheetz is a consumer-driven company, and we strive to deliver the highest-quality products in the most convenient and consistent ways to our customers. In effort of that, we are continually assessing all of our vendor partnerships to ensure that the products we offer are the best solutions for our customers and our business.
"Currently, we have four vendor partners providing pepperoni rolls to our stores. Three of those vendor partners are West Virginia-based companies. To ensure consistency throughout the company, we have identified the need for one vendor to supply this product, and that evaluation is ongoing. We appreciate our customers’ passion around our offerings and thank them for their feedback during this evaluation process.
"Sheetz is committed to the communities we serve in West Virginia, and we absolutely acknowledge the significant role the state of West Virginia has in the growth of our company. Currently, we employ over 1,400 West Virginians through our 52 store locations with more locations scheduled to open in 2015. Our passion for the state of West Virginia has led us to select Morgantown as the flagship market for our new Sheetz store concept that was opened last spring. Additionally, our passion enables us to provide donations to local food banks, and in 2014, we donated more than $100,000 in financial and in-kind product donation support to our West Virginia communities.
"Our customers are of the utmost importance to us and we thank them for their on-going support."
The Country Club bakery in Fairmont is credited with inventing pepperoni rolls around 1937, according to a report by West Virginia Public Broadcasting. But many North Central West Virginians know the stories that their grandparents told them--that for years pepperoni rolls had been made by Italian coal miners' wives, who sent pepperoni rolls with their husbands as they went to work for long hours, down into the mines.