(VTAJ) Pennsylvania has some iconic foods, but also some pretty unique ones that you might not know about if you’ve never lived here.
From the classic Philly cheesesteak to the probably unknown to many pies, Pennsylvania has definitely been influenced by both the big city and the small country, especially the Pennsylvania Dutch.
If you live/live in Pennsylvania, you probably know all of this, but let’s start with something well known.
The cheesesteak is probably the most famous Pennsylvania food on this list, but is there a difference between a cheesesteak and a Philly steak?
Some say it’s only a Philly cheesesteak when you use hoagie rolls from Amaroso, the Philly bread company. Others say it must have Cheez-Wiz, not Provolone or American (although all are acceptable). Any way you cut that rib-eye steak, one thing’s for sure… Pennsylvania loves a good steak.
Nowadays, finding a soft pretzel is as easy as blinking. You can put the frozen one in the microwave and have a warm soft pretzel in 30 seconds.
Did you know? The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Factory was the first commercial pretzel bakery in America and was built in Lititz, Pennsylvania. It is still in use today. Pretzels are believed to have reached America after spreading across Europe and arriving with Pennsylvania Dutch immigrants.
Sure, you can dip them or cover them with cheese, but if you’re from Pennsylvania, you know mustard is the best condiment.
Scrapple is made from leftover pork, usually trimmings, and cornmeal. Food Network says it’s often made with spices like sage, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, garlic, and salt.
Often used as a breakfast side dish, scraps were created by the Pennsylvania Dutch who used what they had on hand, leftover pork and corn (cornmeal).
Similar to hot soft pretzels, you can find pierogi in the freezer section of grocery stores. However, pierogis began as a Pennsylvania staple when Eastern Europeans made their way into western PA, specifically the Pittsburgh area. Pierogi literally translates to “dumplings,” according to Brittanica.
If you’ve never had one, you might be missing out. What could be better than a pocket of dough filled with potatoes and cheese? Throw them in a pan with butter and onions and you have a great side dish.
It turns out that a staple for many people in Pennsylvania is something that many outside the commonwealth may not know about.
Lebanon bologna is a cured, fermented lunch meat introduced by the Pennsylvania Dutch to Lebanon County in the 19th century. While regular bologna can be made from pork, chicken, and beef, Lebanese bologna is primarily made from beef. Are you team original or team sweet Lebanese bologna?
Okay, you might have trouble finding anyone outside of Pennsylvania who’s even heard of Shoofli Pie, but it’s definitely a Midstate staple, once again from the Pennsylvania Dutch.
Pie, which can be considered a dessert today, was first made for the centennial of the Declaration of Independence in 1876. It was cheap to make and appealed to many farm bakers and was often a breakfast staple. Some speculate that it was made in winter when the hens were not laying eggs, hence the lack of eggs as an ingredient.
The sweet molasses used would often attract flies, causing people to “swap” them away until the pie cooled.
Pie with grass
A Pennsylvania Dutch-style pot pie may not be the pie most think of. The crust is gone; instead, you have a hearty stew-like filling in a pot with squared noodles, something many might consider akin to chicken and dumplings — which is what many outside of Pennsylvania might think of when they see it.
While chicken and turkey may be popular forms, ham pie is not unheard of. Of course, you can find recipes with all kinds of proteins, and even without meat, if you are a vegetarian.
A sort of cross between applesauce and peanut butter, apple butter is another gift from our PA ancestors.
Historians can trace apple butter to Germany and central Europe during the Middle Ages, and it probably crossed the Appalachians with the Pennsylvania Dutch. Historically, it’s made by heating apples with spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg until they caramelize and reach a spreadable consistency. According to PA Eats, there are more than 250 apple growers across Pennsylvania.
Tasticake has been a Philadelphia staple for over 100 years, making some iconic treats like Krimpets and Peanut Butter Candy Cakes.
Sweet treats and snack cakes often have their own display at the end of the aisle in almost every grocery store in Pennsylvania. However, they tend to be more regional along the east coast.
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Whoopie Pies, also known as Gobs, have become a favorite treat for many in Pennsylvania.
Two pillowy cakes with a creamy frosting sandwiched between them, the flavor possibilities are endless. From traditional chocolate cake to pumpkin or peanut butter. Gobs can easily put a smile on anyone’s face.
Did you know? Maine lays claim to the first Whoopie Pies and even made them their official state treat with legislation, according to Cape Whoopies.
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