Cultural Differences Between Pretzels And Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Is Odd and So Is Wherever You Live

Pretzels and Pennsylvania

Pennsylvanians eat 12 times more pretzels than the rest of the country. This fun fact comes to you from an interview with Andrea Slonecker, author of Pretzel Making at Home, on the podcast The Splendid Table.

Although travel and technology make it easier to learn about fascinating cultural differences around the world, there are still plenty of differences big and small to explore with your kids right from home.

I live in Pennsylvania and pretzels are a major part of the snack food aisle.  I’ve rolled my own pretzels with my daughter at a pretzel factory Lancaster County, PA.  Snack food aisles in other areas, just don’t have enough pretzels.

Although we’re increasingly connected to people far and wide because of travel and technology, cultural differences remain and they’re probably just as odd. And by odd, I don’t mean weird or bad, I mean different and fascinating.


Whoopie Pies

Do you have whoopie pies where you live? Both Pennsylvania and Maine claim these hamburger-shaped cake and frosting delights as their own, but I see no need to fight it out for exclusive rights. They’re delicious and you can make them yourself!


Clear Toy Candy

Clear toy candy is a simple hard candy made into shapes kids love. Its history in Pennsylvania dates back to German immigrants. In Central PA I can find them in shops and there’s still one shop that sells mail order called Regennas Candy Shop.


Fastnacht Day and Groundhog Day

The day before Lent is Fastnacht Day in Central PA. It’s celebrated by eating doughnuts called fastnachts. Simple and glorious. Grocery stores make bags and bags of them and they are snapped up for a last indulgence on the night (nacht) before the fast.

Groundhog day in February is an odd event that makes the news across the country for at least a few seconds, but in Pennsylvania, where Punxsutawney Phil makes his prediction, the story gets at least a few minutes of airtime. In my neighborhood, there’s even a house with Groundhog Day decorations!


So Much to Explore From Home!

Many regional differences stem from immigrant heritage. In my area, it’s mostly German and Italian. Where I grew up in Iowa, there’s a lot of Scandinavian. It took years after I moved away to realize that I no one I knew had heard of kringla (which incidentally is sometimes described as a sweet pretzel).

Recognizing those differences can be hard if you’ve lived in the same place for awhile. You may have to ask someone who’s new to your area what they’ve noticed. That opens up the discussion to what cultures that person has experienced.

You don’t have to make an expensive trip overseas for your children to see that people are different and that those differences are fascinating.

To explore this idea further, here’s a guide from the Peace Corps.

What are the cultural differences where you live?

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