Traveltino + [whereivebeen]

Gas station greatness

It's part of the cement fabric that binds the country together. It's an oasis of ceramic, grease and Little Debbie snacks. But the gas station store is often overlooked for its most wonderful offering: Inexplicable, unmarketable and just plain bizarre merchandise. For many of us, the "gifts" section feels more like a museum of "Who the heck would actually buy this?" And everything is touted on the box as a "collectible." Trash is also collectible.

No matter where you go in the Midwest, your gas station stop will have some sort of merchandise from its state of residence. It's a fair gamble someone might want an "Arkansas is for Lovers" shirt or shot glass, unironically or ironically. But some of the name-branding goes overboard:

1. Does anyone on this planet collect miniature spoons with state symbols?
2. Even for its practical purpose, the spoon can probably feed a baby a pea and a couple fingernails, tops. Trying to use this spoon could probably be considered child abuse.

The men of St. Louis-based spazz-rock band So Many Dynamos cut their teeth playing Midwestern venues, a region that prides itself in useless convenience store gear. Here's a gem from their road journal (click there for some more):


"What's that, you say? You want your morning breakfast to be shaped like a weapon?"
"Yes. Preferably sunny-side up."Then there's the stuff they don't keep in the storefront windows. They're nestled on the tile walls of the restrooms, only asking for a quarter or two for a product that will change your world. Kris Heding, an artist based in Minneapolis, MN, might be the only person on the planet who keeps a watchful eye on the bathroom vending machine market, but we're all enriched for her findings. We'll show you a couple and let you click over to her for the rest (they're much more racy/fun):

This post will only end when bad gas station merchandise does, so feel free to contribute your own on @whereivebeen or in our Facebook fan page.

Cheers!