Earl Springer MTO - Photo by Gary M Baranec

Who’s Your Daddy, MTO?

How many times have you used the touchscreen at a Sheetz or Wawa to order your favorite shori or MTO? How about at McDonald’s or Wendy’s? Well, if you have then you own Earl Springer a debt of gratitude.

According to an interview with the Altoona Mirror, “Earl Springer was working as manager of the Sheetz store in Williamsport, Md., in 1986. Little did he know he would come up with an idea that would revolutionize the convenience store industry.”MTO t-shirt

Springer wanted to add something to the Sheetz store he managed. Knowing sub shops in the area were successful, he decided to offer sandwiches. In an effort to differentiate Sheetz from the competition, he introduced a paper order form. People could specify exactly what they wanted on their sandwich and it would be made to order.

From the Altoona Mirror:

The made-to-order sandwich, or MTO as it is known today, was born.

Within weeks, made-to-order sales doubled and were outpacing pre-made subs. Sheetz then expanded the concept to additional stores and by the early 1990s, MTO was a major sales leader, increasing sales 15-20 percent companywide.

Today, Sheetz offers a vast MTO menu of subs, sandwiches, chicken, wraps, salads, pizza, hot dogs, Tex-Mex, kids meals, premium coffee, smoothies, milkshakes and more.

The MTO has surpassed hot dogs as Sheetz’s top seller.

“It (MTO) is really synonymous with Sheetz. We sell more hot dogs than all of the major league ballparks in America put together. Sheetz was known for hot dogs before the MTO but people started to think made-to-order,” Springer said.

Springer called the growth of the MTO “explosive.”

This simple addition to the Sheetz lineup in the 90’s has rippled through both the convenience store and restaurant industries. The Sheetz vs Wawa rivalry is strong but where would they be without each other?

Read more about Earl Springer and the invention of the MTO in the Altoona Mirror. Featured image credit by Altoona Mirror’s Gary M. Baranec.

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