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There are approximately 10,000 truck stops in the United States, and each of them possesses a unique quality that has allowed them to thrive since the 1940s. Truck stops sprouted up as America began to build out its interstate highway system as a way of providing fuel and refreshments for truck drivers carrying goods across the country without them having to go out of their way to small towns to find filling stations.
The most important resource truck stops offer is still – and probably always will be – fuel. After all, the industry uses around 55 billion gallons of gas each year, which is equal to 4 trillion bottles of water. However, nowadays, truck stops have ballooned into giant plazas that offer much more, oftentimes including restaurants, gaming centers, showers, lounges and souvenir shops.
And they do big business. Consider the simple fact that a long-haul driver will travel up to 150,000 miles each year. That’s equal to traveling around the Earth six times, and out on the road, truck stops let drivers get what they need and still make time with their load. So the exchange of goods and services at each highway oasis can reach fairly epic proportions.
Take, for example, the Iowa 80 truck stop in Walcott, Iowa. It’s the self-proclaimed world’s largest truck stop and serves an average of 5,000 customers a day. These visitors consume:
· 775 rolls of toilet paper per month – that’s equal to 55 miles
· 2 million cups of coffee, which is about the same as 17.85 tanker trucks
· 17 million eggs – laid end-to-end, they would stretch from D.C. to Atlanta
And that’s just at one stop. Multiply that by thousands, and you’ve got one hell of an industry.