Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. The original capital of the country (Philadelphia) can be found in Pennsylvania, which was situated right in the middle of the new nation – six states below and six states above – earning it the nickname, the Keystone State. Let’s check out this important cog in America:
Motto: “Virtue, liberty, and independence” – That pretty much covers it all.
Food: Philly Cheesesteaks are known the world over. Created by Pat and Henry Olivieri at their hotdog stand, the original recipe called for a sandwich of beef, covered with cheese and onions. The meal proved so popular, the brothers opened Pat’s King of Steaks, which is still in business today. Visitors to Pennsylvania can’t leave the state without trying a cheesesteak.
Drink: Yuengling Brewing, founded in 1829, in Pottsville, is America’s oldest operating brewing company. Based on sales, it is one of the most successful breweries in the world today. It should also be noted that soda originated in Pennsylvania, in 1807, when druggist Townsend Speakman added fruit flavours to carbonated water, making it more drinkable.
Site to See: The Liberty Bell, located in Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park, is one of America’s most iconic symbols. It was originally used to gather legislators and make announcements to the public. Interestingly, the word Pennsylvania is misspelled ‘Pensylvania’ on the bell, as a decision on the official spelling of the state hadn’t been made yet.
Street: Chocolate and Cocoa Avenues intersect to make up the town square of Hershey. It is here, where The Hershey Company is headquartered, as well as the location of the Hersheypark amusement resort. Streetlamps along the routes are shaped like Hershey’s Kisses. Chocolate production in Pennsylvania has earned the state the nickname ‘Sweetest Place on Earth’.
TV Show: A few of my favourite shows take place in Pennsylvania, including The Goldbergs, The Office and Boy Meets World. Each contains numerous references to life in the state. I’ve also had It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia on my ‘to watch’ list for some time, so hopefully it appears on a streaming service accessible in Canada one day.
Movie: Many of director M. Night Shyamalan’s films are set in Pennsylvania, including The Sixth Sense, Signs and The Eastrail 177 Trilogy (Unbreakable/Split/Glass). A majority of filming for each movie was done around the state, featuring notable landmarks. Shyamalan, the plot twist king, was born in India, but now resides in Penn Valley.
Book/Author: Husband and wife writer-illustrators Stan and Jan Berenstain were born in Philadelphia. Their Berenstain Bears series of children’s books is comprised of more than 300 releases, which have sold over 260 millions copies around the world, since debuting in 1962. Since their passings, the franchise has been continued by Stan and Jan’s son, Mike (also from Philly).
Fictional Character: Scrappy boxer Rocky Balboa (aka the Italian Stallion), is born and bred in Philadelphia. When the relatively unknown fighter is given a title shot against the World Heavyweight Champion, Apollo Creed, he is unable to win, but survives the 15-round battle at the Philadelphia Spectrum, making Balboa a true hometown hero.
Fictional City: One of my all-time favourite films is Slap Shot, about the fictional Charlestown Chiefs hockey team and their move to violence over skill, in order for the struggling franchise to win more games and draw more fans. Charlestown was based off real-life Johnstown, where the movie was filmed, and inspired by the Johnstown Jets hockey team.
Actor/Actress: A-listers of today, such as Will Smith and Bradley Cooper were born in Philadelphia. However, the nod for this category goes to James Stewart, star of such classics as It’s a Wonderful Life, Rear Window and Vertigo, who was born in Indiana. There, each Christmas, the suburb hosts an It’s a Wonderful Life celebration and film festival, in Stewart’s honour.
Song: I’m going to go ahead and pick Amish Paradise by Weird Al Yankovic, given Pennsylvania’s massive Amish population (largest in the country). In the mid 1700’s, Amish immigrants settled in their new paradise and have remained since. I mean, there has to be a reason why they came to the state in droves… it’s not like they’re stubborn or anything like that!
Band/Musician: America’s Sweetheart, Taylor Swift, was born in West Reading. Starting her career as a country musician, Swift has transitioned successfully into the pop world and is one of the most popular artists in the world today. Some of her most recognized songs include Shake It Off, Blank Space, Bad Blood and Look What You Made Me Do.
People: For 33 years, Fred Rogers welcomed viewers into his home and the Neighborhood of Make-Believe with Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. There, the man born in Latrobe, taught children lessons of morality. Rogers was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Lifetime Achievement Emmy, as well as being inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.
Animal: Punxsutawney Phil has been predicting the weather since 1887. When the famous groundhog emerges from his burrow each February 2nd, if he sees his shadow, six more weeks of winter can be expected. If he doesn’t see his shadow, spring is near. Phil’s accuracy is only about 40 per cent. The film Groundhog Day resulted in annual crowds increasing from 2,000 to a record 40,000 people in 2020.
Invention: As we suffer through the COVID-19 pandemic, I think anytime a vaccine for a disease is invented, that’s a fantastic achievement. In 1952, Jonas Salk and others at the University of Pittsburgh created the first successful polio vaccine. By 1955, children were being vaccinated across America, with reported cases of polio dropping drastically.
Crime: On Septmeber 24, 1982, former prison guard George Banks went on a killing spree, murdering seven children (including five of his own), along with their four mothers, a neighbour and the mother of his ex-girlfriend. The event is known as the 1982 Wilkes-Barre Shootings. Banks was sentenced to death for the slayings, but was found mentally incompetent for execution.
Law: In Pennsylvania, a man may not purchase alcohol without the written permission of his wife. Can you imagine how that would go over in the Sip Family household? I mean, I often discuss liquor purchases with the missus, but ain’t no one stopping me from getting my drink on!
Sports Team: Pennsylvania’s Big 4 sports teams are split between Philadelphia – Eagles (NFL), Flyers (NHL), Phillies (MLB) and 76ers (NBA) – and Pittsburgh – Steelers (NFL), Penguins (NHL) and Pirates (MLB). Also, the Little League World Series is played annually in South Williamsport, where the event debuted in 1947, as the National Little League Tournament.
Athlete: Two NBA icons were born in Philadelphia, Kobe Bryant and Wilt Chamberlain. Bryant won five NBA championships and is thought of as one of the best players ever. Sadly, Bryant died in a helicopter crash earlier this year. Chamberlain makes this list solely based on bedding 20,000 women. Oh yeah, he also won two NBA titles (including one with the 76ers) and is the only player to score 100 points in a game.
Famous Home: Fallingwater, designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, can be found in Mill Run. It was built on top of a waterfall for the Kaufmann family of Kaufmann’s Department Store fame. The estate is a National Historic Landmark and is on the Smithsonian’s Life List of 28 Places to See Before You Die. Tours are available of the site.
Urban Legend: The Congelier House, in Pittsburgh, was considered America’s most haunted house. Tragic events at the home, including Mrs. Congelier killing her husband and their maid upon discovering their affair; a doctor who experimented on murdered women and workers disappearing from the boarding house, led to paranormal activity… although the house’s history has been discredited.
Museum: Two Pennsylvania museums stand out to me. The Big Mac Museum, in North Huntington, celebrates the burger first released in Pittsburgh, before becoming one of McDonald’s most popular menu items. There’s also the Houdini Museum, in Scranton, where illusionist Harry Houdini performed a number of his death-defying stunts.
Firsts: Pennsylvania was home to a number of metropolitan firsts that are now commonplace around the country. This included the first automobile service station, zoo (Philadelphia Zoo), hospital, circulating library, multi-lane highway (Pennsylvania Turnpike), baseball stadium, daily newspaper, movie theatre, and department store (Wanamaker’s).
Company: Crayola, makers of items such as crayons, coloured pencils, markers, paints, and more, is headquartered in Forks Township. It was originally founded in 1885, as Binney and Smith, by cousins Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith. Today, Crayola is owned by Hallmark Cards. Crayola Crayons were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1998.
Events: With Philadelphia serving as the nation’s capital on a number of occasions, particularly during the birth of the country, the Declaration of Independence was signed and the U.S. Constitution written there. It’s central location, with regards to the 13 colonies, made it a perfect meeting spot for the revolutionary fighters and minds that shaped the republic.
Miscellaneous: Many notable historic moments have occurred throughout Pennsylvania, including President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (preceded by the Battle of Gettysburg) and the Crossing of the Delaware, by George Washington, during the American Revolutionary War. This event is now re-enacted every year in Pennsylvania on Christmas Day.
Fish House Punch
- 1.5 oz Dark Rum
- 0.75 oz Cognac
- 0.5 oz Peach/Apricot brandy
- Splash of Lemon Juice
- Dash of Simple Syrup
- Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry
The Fish House Punch is quite the concoction, so I found a single serving recipe perfect for my purposes. The drink was invented at Philadelphia’s Fish House fishing club, in 1732. George Washington was a fan of the beverage, once using it to make 13 toasts, one for each of the original states.