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Chloe Effron

25 Key Facts About Pennsylvania

Original image
Chloe Effron

There’s so much more to Pennsylvania than cheesesteaks and the Declaration of Independence. Get to know the Keystone State with these 25 useful facts. (Technically, only some of them are useful, but they’re all interesting.)

Image Credit: Aaron Silvers via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

1. Legendary groundhog/oracle Punxsutawney Phil has been at it for at least 150 years, leaving his mark on history. Never hesitant to throw his weight around, a Prohibition-era Phil reportedly threatened officials with 60 weeks of winter unless he could have a drink.

Image Credit: Evan-Amos via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

2. Pennsylvania is the birthplace of a lot of America’s favorite junk food. A short list of Pennsylvania-founded companies includes Rita’s Water Ice, Hershey’s, Tastykake, Just Born (makers of Peeps), Auntie Anne’s, Herr’s, Planters, Utz, Wise, and Snyder’s of Hanover. Many of these are located in a part of central Pennsylvania that’s commonly called the Snack Belt. “You don’t come to central Pennsylvania on a low-carb diet, that’s for sure,” a Visitors Bureau representative told Gourmet magazine.

3. Planning a visit to Pennsylvania’s Amish country? Leave your camera at home, or at least don’t point it at the residents without their express permission. This is common courtesy anywhere in the world, but it’s especially important for the Amish, who believe that photographs violate the Biblical commandment that bans the creation of graven images.

4. Billy Joel’s steel-town anthem “Allentown” is a great pop song, as long as you’re not a stickler for details. The town described in his song (and steamy video) wasn’t Allentown, Pennsylvania, at all, but neighboring Bethlehem; Joel figured “Allentown” just sounded better.

Image Credit: Painting by Frederick Lamb via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

5. William Penn didn’t become a U.S. citizen until 1984. The founder of the Pennsylvania Colony died in 1718, nearly a half-century before the United States became a thing. In honor of their contributions to American history, Penn and his wife Hannah (who managed the colony after her husband’s death) were granted honorary citizenship in the 1980s.

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6. The official state dog of Pennsylvania is the Great Dane. When the subject was raised for a vote in the state government, legislators reportedly stood up and “yipped, growled, and barked” their votes in favor. “The arfs have it,” said the Speaker of the House. 

7. For one uncomfortable season during World War II, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers came together to become the Steagles. The move was intended to keep the NFL alive at a time when nearly all able-bodied men had been sent off to war. To ensure they could field at least one team from Pennsylvania, the rival teams’ managers decided to work together. This was not a popular move.

Image Credit: Doug Kerr via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

8. The borough of Centralia, Pennsylvania, has been on fire for more than 50 years. The town’s coal mine caught fire underground in 1962, and with a constant supply of fuel, the fire has been able to keep on burning. Most citizens left years ago, but some stayed behind. As of 2013, the town of Centralia had seven residents.

Image Credit: Reproduction of historical painting "The Bell's First Note" by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris // Public Domain

9. The word “Pennsylvania” is misspelled on the Liberty Bell. The bell was made in the days of creative spelling, before the founders had agreed on the official version.

Image Credit: Stu Spivack via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

10. Most cultures have some version of composite meat, and Pennsylvania is no different. The loaf of ground pig parts (historically including pig tongue, skin, hearts, and livers, in addition to regular old meat) known as scrapple is a source of both local pride and tourist curiosity.

11. A keystone is the central piece of a stone arch that helps keep all the other stones in place. Pennsylvania was nicknamed the Keystone State because of its central role in colonial history.

Image Credit: Ron Shawley via WikimediaCommons // CC BY-SA 3.0

12. Pennsylvania is one of a handful of states to have an official state locomotive. It’s actually got two: the official state steam locomotive, the K4s (pictured), and the state electric locomotive, the GGI 4859. 

Image Credit: Anthony via Wikimedia Commons // CC SA 1.0

13. Wawa convenience stores have something of a cult following. A 2015 survey of 7000 consumers found the Pennsylvania-based convenience store chain ranking first in both customer loyalty and fresh food. 

Image Credit: Michael Witzel via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

14. Pennsylvania’s state animal, the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is commonly seen as a parasite-riddled pest animal to East Coasters today, but the species played an important role in early American history. Both Native Americans and settlers depended on the deer as sources of food, clothing, and shelter.

Image Credit:Bobak Ha'Eri via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

15. The larger-than-life Rocky Balboa statue at the Philadelphia Museum of Art was a gift from Sylvester Stallone to the city of Philadelphia—a gift the museum didn’t necessarily want. Controversy over whether to keep the statue, and where to put it, has continued since Stallone’s 1982 donation.  

Image Credit: Derek Ramsey via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.5

16. Driving through Pennsylvania offers some lovely scenery and some pretty amusing sign-spotting, with town names that include Cheesetown, Eighty-Four, and Jugtown, not to mention Virginville, Blue Ball, Big Beaver, Intercourse, and Climax.

17. New Year’s Eve is a good time to visit the Keystone State. The following items are dropped to ring in the new year: a giant Peep (Bethlehem), a wrench (Mechanicsburg), 200 pounds of bologna (Lebanon), glowing coal (Shamokin), an enormous pair of yellow pants (Lower Allen Township), and a giant Hershey’s Kiss (Hershey, naturally).

Image Credit: Antarctic96via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

18. Speaking of Hershey: Pennsylvania chocolate magnate Milton S. Hershey and his wife Kitty were scheduled to depart on the RMS Titanic. They had to change their plans at the last minute and boarded another ship instead. 

19. A hill in Bedford County, Pennsylvania became a tourist attraction when it was discovered that objects appeared to roll up the hill instead of down. Scientists say the effects of Gravity Hill—one of many such hills around the world—are simply a very convincing optical illusion.

Image Credit: Matthew Brady via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

20. Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address in Pennsylvania four months after the bloody Battle of Gettysburg. Lincoln’s “little speech,” as he called it, lasted only two or three minutes, but left an indelible mark on all who heard it, and those who would read it for centuries to come.

21. A mysterious field spanning 7 acres in Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania, draws visitors hoping to hear literal rock music: The stones covering the ground there produce "clear, bell-like tones" when struck. To this day, no one knows exactly what causes this phenomenon.

Image Credit: Nicholas via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

22. France was a tough place to be during the revolution, especially if you had money. Pennsylvania was easier. So for a decade during the 18th century, the state was home to a colony of some 200 French aristocrats on the lam. 

Image Credit: Jgera5 via Wikimedia Commons // CC

23. If you enjoy a little history with your hamburger, you might want to check out the Big Mac Museum in North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, located near where the classic sandwich was first developed. Opened in 2007 inside a fully functioning McDonald’s, the museum is exactly what it sounds like: a paraphernalia-fueled homage to the fast food chain’s most famous sandwich.

24. Pennsylvanian Betsy Ross had a lot more grit than most people realize. As a young woman, Elizabeth “Betsy” Griscolm had eloped with the Episcopalian John Ross, much to the horror of her Quaker family. The decision earned Betsy an excommunication, but she never turned back. Two years after their marriage, Betsy and John started a sewing business—a gutsy move, considering that Betsy had just been cut off from anyone who might patronize her shop. But the Rosses persisted, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Image Credit: Somach via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

25. Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural masterpiece Fallingwater is perched over a waterfall in Stewart Township, Pennsylvania. The house is widely considered his best work, and appears on the Smithsonian’s list of “places to visit before you die." 

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Eggo Came Up With 9 Perfect Recipes for Your Stranger Things Viewing Party
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As the return of Stranger Things draws near, you can expect to see fans break out their blonde wigs, hang up their Christmas lights, and play the Netflix show’s theme song on repeat. But Eggo knows the best way to celebrate the season two premiere on October 27 is with a menu featuring Eleven’s favorite snack. As Mashable reports, the brand has joined forces with Netflix to release a menu of gourmet waffle recipes to serve at your Stranger Things viewing party.

The lineup includes nine creative takes on Eggo waffles, each one named after an episode from the new season. The menu kicks off with “MADMAX,” a spin on chicken and waffles served with maple syrup and Sriracha. As the season progresses, pairings alternate between sweet (like “Will the Wise,” featuring ice cream and hot fudge) and savory (like “Trick or Treat, Freak,” a waffle version of a BLT). Check out the full menu below with directions from the experts at Eggo.


Eggo recipe.

1 Kellogg’s Eggo Homestyle Waffle
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon Sriracha
1 deli hot chicken tender

1. Toast Kellogg’s Eggo Homestyle Waffle according to package directions.

2. In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine syrup and Sriracha. Microwave on high for 15 to 20 seconds or until just warm.

3. Place warm chicken tender on top of waffle. Drizzle with syrup mixture. Serve with knife and fork.


Bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiched between two waffles

4 Kellogg’s Eggo Homestyle waffles
2 lettuce leaves
4 thin tomato slices
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
8 slices turkey bacon, crisp-cooked and drained
3 tablespoons blue cheese salad dressing

1. Toast Kellogg’s Eggo Homestyle Waffles according to package directions.

2. Top two of the waffles with lettuce and tomato slices. Sprinkle with pepper. Top with bacon. Drizzle with salad dressing. Add remaining waffles. Cut each into halves. Serve immediately.


Eggo recipe.

1 1/2 cups vanilla ice cream, divided
3/4 cup strawberry ice cream
3 Kellogg’s Eggo Homestyle waffles or Kellogg’s Eggo Chocolatey Chip waffles
1 Banana, sliced
3 Strawberries, sliced
2 cups frozen reduced-fat, non-dairy whipped dessert topping, thawed
Assorted small candies (optional)
Gold-colored decorator’s sugar or edible glitter (optional)

1. Place vanilla and strawberry ice cream in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes until slightly softened.

2. Meanwhile, on large piece of parchment paper or wax paper, trace 4 1/2-inch circles. Place paper on baking sheet. Working quickly, spoon 3/4 cup of the vanilla ice cream onto one circle. Flatten into a 1/2-inch-thick, 4 1/2-inch-diameter disk. Repeat with remaining vanilla ice cream and strawberry ice cream, making disks. Lightly cover with wax paper and freeze at least two hours or until firm.

3. Toast Kellogg's Eggo Homestyle Waffles according to package directions. Cool. Leave one waffle whole. Cut remaining waffles into quarters.

4. Remove paper from ice cream disks. Top with one of the vanilla ice cream disks and four waffle quarters, leaving a small space between pieces. Top with vanilla ice cream disk and more waffle pieces (always arrange waffle quarters so they align with waffle quarters on lower layers). Add the remaining vanilla ice cream disk and more waffle pieces. Top with strawberry ice cream disk and the remaining four waffle quarters. Wrap in plastic wrap. Gently press down on the stack. Freeze at least 3 hours or until firm.

5. Remove waffle stack from freezer. Remove plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Mound with whipped topping. Decorate with candies and gold sugar (if desired).

6. To serve, cut into four pieces, cutting between waffle quarters.

TIP: To easily form ice cream disks, place a 4 1/2-inch round cookie cutter on parchment or wax paper on baking sheet. Place ice cream inside of cookie cutter and smooth into solid disk. Remove cookie cutter and repeat for remaining ice cream disks. Freeze as directed above.


Eggo waffle.

1 Kellogg’s Eggo Homestyle Waffle
1 tablespoon hot fudge ice cream topping
1/3 cup vanilla ice cream
1 tablespoon caramel ice cream topping
2 tablespoons aerosol whipped cream
1 tablespoon dry roasted peanuts

1. Toast Kellogg's Eggo Homestyle Waffle according to package directions. Heat fudge ice cream topping according to package directions.

2. Scoop ice cream onto center of waffle.

3. Drizzle with fudge and caramel toppings. Add whipped cream. Sprinkle with peanuts. Serve with knife and fork.


Eggo waffle.

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
6 Kellogg’s Eggo Homestyle waffles
3 tablespoons orange-colored decorator’s sugar
6 oblong chewy fruit-flavored green candies or 2 small green gumdrops, cut into 6 pieces

1. In a medium bowl, stir together cream cheese, pumpkin, powdered sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours or until firm enough to shape.

2. Meanwhile, toast Kellogg’s Eggo Homestyle Waffles according to package directions.

3. Place orange-colored sugar in a small bowl. Using a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon, shape about 2 tablespoons of cream cheese mixture into pumpkin shape. Roll in orange sugar. Place on one waffle. Repeat with remaining cream cheese mixture, sugar and waffles.

4. Press green candy into each cream cheese ball for pumpkin stem. Serve with spreaders or knives to spread cream cheese mixture over waffles.


Eggo waffles.

3 frozen fully-cooked sausage links
2 tablespoons green bell pepper
2 tablespoons water
1 Kellogg’s Eggo Homestyle Waffle
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon Sriracha

1. In a small nonstick skillet, cook sausage links, bell pepper, and water, covered, over medium heat for five minutes. Remove pepper from skillet. Set aside. Continue cooking sausage, uncovered, about two minutes more or until browned, turning frequently.

2. Meanwhile, toast Kellogg's Eggo Homestyle Waffle according to package directions.

3. In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine syrup and Sriracha. Microwave on high for 15 to 20 seconds or until just warm.

4. Arrange sausage pieces and pepper pieces on waffle. Drizzle with syrup mixture. Serve with knife and fork.


Eggo waffle.

6 cups canned pineapple slices, drained
1 tablespoon flaked coconut, toasted
1 Kellogg’s Eggo Homestyle Waffle
2 tablespoons aerosol whipped cream
1 tablespoon macadamia nuts, chopped

1. Cut pineapple slices into four pieces.

2. Toast Kellogg’s Eggo Homestyle Waffle according to package directions. Place on serving plate. Top with coconut, pineapple slices, whipped cream, and macadamia nuts. Serve with knife and fork.


Eggo waffle.

6 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 Kellogg’s Eggo Homestyle waffles
1 tablespoon butter
3 slices bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled
6 thin slices Monterey Jack cheese or cheddar cheese (3 oz. total)
Ketchup or salsa (optional)

1. In a medium bowl, beat together eggs, milk, salt, and pepper with a fork until well combined. Set aside.

2. Place frozen waffles in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake, uncovered, at 450°F for five minutes.

3. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large nonstick skillet. Pour in egg mixture. Cook, over medium heat, until mixture begins to set on bottom and around edges. With spatula, lift and fold partially cooked eggs, allowing uncooked portions to flow underneath. Continue cooking and folding for two to three minutes or until egg mixture is cooked through.

4. Top waffles with egg mixture, crumbled bacon, and cheese slices. Bake, uncovered, at 450°F about one minute more or until cheese melts. Serve with ketchup or salsa (if desired).


Eggo waffle.

6 Kellogg’s Eggo Homestyle waffles
6 slices mozzarella cheese or provolone cheese (6 oz. total)
24 slices pepperoni (about 2 oz. total)
1/3 cup pizza sauce

1. Place Kellogg's Eggo Homestyle waffles in single layer on baking sheet. Bake at 450°F for three minutes. Turn waffles over. Bake at 450°F for two minutes more.

2. Cut waffles into quarters. Return to baking sheet.

3. Cut cheese slices into pieces to fit on waffle quarters.

4. Top waffle quarters with cheese pieces, pepperoni slices and pizza sauce. Bake, uncovered, at 450°F for three to four minutes or until cheese melts. Serve warm.

Making the full nine-course menu might take a lot of work, but then again, it’s probably healthy to plan some cooking projects to break up your binge-watching session. Once you're done burning through all those waffles (and episodes), Eggo has a few suggestions for what to do with the empty box. Accessories like an Eggo flashlight or a bloody tissue box sound like the perfect way to make your Stranger Things costume stand out at this year’s Halloween party.

Instructions for crafting with leftover Eggo box.

Instructions for crafting with leftover Eggo box.

[h/t Mashable]

All images courtesy of Eggo.

Original image
David Kessler, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
The Little-Known History of Fruit Roll-Ups
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David Kessler, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

The thin sheets of “fruit treats” known as Fruit Roll-Ups have been a staple of supermarkets since 1983, when General Mills introduced the snack to satisfy the sweet tooth of kids everywhere. But as Thrillist writer Gabriella Gershenson recently discovered, the Fruit Roll-Up has an origin that goes much further back—all the way to the turn of the 20th century.

The small community of Syrian immigrants in New York City in the early 1900s didn’t have the packaging or marketing power of General Mills, but they had the novel idea of offering an apricot-sourced “fruit leather” they called amardeen. A grocery proprietor named George Shalhoub would import an apricot paste from Syria that came in massive sheets. At the request of customers, employees would snip off a slice and offer the floppy treat that was named after cowhide because it was so hard to chew.

Although Shalhoub’s business relocated to Brooklyn in the 1940s, the embryonic fruit sheet continued to thrive. George’s grandson, Louis, decided to sell crushed, dried apricots in individually packaged servings. The business later became known as Joray, which sold the first commercial fruit roll-up in 1960. When a trade publication detailed the family’s process in the early 1970s, it opened the floodgates for other companies to begin making the distinctive treat. Sunkist was an early player, but when General Mills put their considerable advertising power behind their Fruit Roll-Ups, they became synonymous with the sticky snack.

Joray is still in business, offering kosher roll-ups that rely more heavily on fruit than the more processed commercial version. But the companies have one important thing in common: They both have the sense not to refer to their product as “fruit leather.”

[h/t Thrillist]


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