Every long-distance road trip always seems to include these three things: a frightening "oh shit" example of Murphy's Law; an impromptu sing-along; and a spontaneous purchase at a truck stop or travel center in the middle of nowhere. Last week Matthew Flow and I spent quite a bit of time exploring these highway sanctuaries as we cruised south from Chicago to New Orleans in a brand new, jet-black Chrysler 200. Like true road dogs, we were on high alert for backroom, "Over the Top"–esque arm wrestling matches, mostly to no avail. We did manage to round up 13 unconventional items every Bro should pick up at a truck stop on a road trip — besides a full tank of gas, truck stop trixies, and a gross case of the clap.
New Flavors of Smokeless
Every Bro knows spitting sunflower seeds and chewing tobacco are two timeless ways to pass the time on a long-haul. An overland journey is one of the few good excuses to try new flavors and mix up your dipping habits. Consider yourself a regular Skoal Long Cut guy? Pick up a tin of Copenhagen Extra Long Cut for the next 100 miles. Only pack Grizzly Wintergreen bombs while playing FIFA? Pack a Timberwolf Peach for a change. For the redneck stuck in an urban jungle, good luck finding a cheap tin of Copenhagen Extra Long Cut Natural, Grizzly 1900, or Rooster Icy Mint behind the counter of a Manhattan bodega before hitting the road. Some of these glorious treasure tins can only be found by the cigarette and lotto racks of small-town truck stops.
New Flavors of Beef Jerky
There isn’t a truck stop in America without a colorful, front-and-center display of dehydrated meats. Just like trying new flavors of smokeless, the open road is grounds for discovering exotic flavors, brands, and varieties of jerky. You’ve struck a bona fide jerky goldmine if you stop for gas at a truck stop with alligator, buffalo, or wild boar jerky. If you’re penny-pinching, consider it an alternative to lunch. Sure, the aftermath of pounding a half pound of Jack Links Carne Seca or a Bridgeford Party Pack isn’t pretty, but at least you’ll be shaving costs from your overall food budget.
Truck stops and highway general stores are the perfect place to diversify your Koozie portfolio.
Random Beverages You’d Never Drink at Home
The last time I crushed a bottle of Lemon Lime All Sport Body Quencher, I was a catcher on a Little League team. I had no idea that Pepsi’s Powerade alternative was still in production until I came upon it for 79 cents in a rural Illinois gas station. Finding a bottle of All Sport — the official sports drink of John Daly, natch — was like being tossed into a mid-'90s time warp. It was a mandatory pick-up, as was the can of Ol’ Glory Energy Drink right next to it. Though the Ol’ Glory was delicious and made me want to throat-punch terrorists, the All Sport was a like drinking a garbage pail of high fructose corn syrup. Some things are best left to childhood nostalgia. Anyway, what’s the point of all this? These are beverages you just can’t find or consume while going about your day-to-day business at home, so try them out on the road.
Unnecessarily Large Big Gulp Cups
This is America, damn it, where it’s patriotic to like things super-sized, including our Wal-Marts, SUVs, and Big Gulps. No road trip is complete without picking up a refill-able mug the size of a shark tank.
Tacky Yet Kick-Ass T-Shirts
As a Bro, you probably prefer Brooks Brothers over looking like a greasy, one-toothed porta-potty repairman whose wardrobe consists of Lee jeans and a big buck T-shirt from a Flying J. However, there’s nothing wrong with picking up the occasional $10 bald eagle tee to show the world how much red, white, and blue you bleed. I can't even fathom how much p*ssy you'll plow if you can actually pull-off a "Born to Roam" shirt in a normal social situation.
These days, most college campuses have more flannel than the Stihl USA Timbersport Championship. Keep an eye out for Travel Center’s $8.99 flannel threads. They're surprisingly comfortable, don’t look that bad, and are much cheaper than buying designer.