top of page

Serving Up a Slow Living Lifestyle Through Pennsylvania's Tasty Foods

If you have never been to the Keystone State I'd love to take you on a virtual travel tour that covers some of the iconic foods we are known for. This isn't a full list, but highlights that we covered in our February box that I feel most people will be familiar with.

cheesesteak sandwich


I don't think too many people have never heard of the Philly Cheesesteak. This tasty sandwich goes back to the 1930s and was invented by Pat Olivieri. He was a hot dog vendor who threw some beef on the griddle to make a sandwich. This grew into the original Philly Cheesesteak co Pat's King of Steaks in South Philly.

An authentic Philly cheesesteak is made with ribeye sliced very thin, fried onions and a toasted hoagie roll. The sandwich first started with melted provolone. In the 1950s cheese wiz came on the scene and the rest is history. There is a famous battle in Philly between Pat's and Geno's steaks but we will let you decided if you ever visit which one you prefer.

Soft Pretzels

Another Philadelphia favorite is the soft pretzel. This region eats 12 times as many pretzels as any other area in America and we also supply 80% of the nation's pretzels. (This includes hard pretzels as well). In this neck of the woods, people love their pretzels for breakfast, lunch, and also late-night snacks. Pretzels go way back to 610AD and the history is interesting. Because of the strong trading ties between Philadelphia and the Pa Dutch Country, pretzels soon became a staple in Philly, and easily found for sale by the cart vendors. These tasty treats are good plain, with mustard, cheese, cinnamon sugar, and butter.

fried perogies


If you have ever visited Pittsburgh you have had a pierogi I'm sure. These tasty treats were brought to the US by Central and Eastern Europeans. Pierogis are made with a dough that is similar to pasta dough and stuffed usually with a mashed potato filling. They were originally invented as a way to stretch ingredients during difficult times. Pittsburgh is known as the Pierogi Capital of America because of the influx of European immigrants.

There are many ways to make pierogies but my favorite way to to pan-fry them in some butter and onions until they get nice and crispy. They are not hard to make from scratch and you will get plenty to eat right away and put in your freezer to enjoy later. Give it a try if you have never made them!

shoo-fly pie

Amish Country

You will find Amish and Mennonite communities throughout Pennsylvania, but the biggest area is in Lancaster. There are many recipes they are known for, but we settled on the shoo-fly pie to highlight. If you have never had it, it is a rich molasses-based pie with a bottom crust, molasses filling, and crumb topping. If you look back in history, according to William Woys Weaver director of the Keystone Center for the Study of Regional Foods and Food Tourism, this pie originally started as a coffee cake in 1876 at the US Centennial in Philadelphia. He goes on to state that the cake migrated to a pie shell between 1876 and the early 1880s.

This pie does have a funny name and there are two theories as to how it became known as shoo-fly pie. It is said that because of the sticky sweet molasses flies used to get stuck on it so the bakers were always shoo-ing them away. The other explanation is that it was named after the brand of molasses called Shoofly.

chocolate bar

Reading-Berks County

When most people think of chocolate and Pennsylvania the name they think of the most is Hershey's. There is another chocolate company you may not have realized is made in Pennsylvania and that is Godiva. Godiva got its start in a family kitchen in Brussels. Here in Berks County, we have a Godiva factory making chocolates every day.

The chocolates are delicious and besides the chocolate bars, you can get pralines, truffles, and bon bons. They have grown into a worldwide company and to have a factory here in Berks County is pretty great! I am partial to the truffles and right now with Valentine's Day on our heels, you will see Godiva treats everywhere!

ground coffee

The Poconos

We couldn't leave our tour without a mention of the Poconos. They are famous for their skiing of course but no particular food stood out to us. Instead, we decided to feature one of the coffee roasters in that area. Most times you will get great coffee from an artisan roaster. If you read their mission statement below, they take coffee very seriously and also have great reviews! You can order their coffee online as well!

Taken from their website-At Watergap Coffee Co, our mission is to awaken the world to the extraordinary possibilities of coffee. We believe that every cup of coffee should be a moment of discovery and delight, an experience that connects people, cultures, and flavors.

We are committed to sourcing the finest coffee beans from around the globe, carefully selecting each origin for its unique character and quality. Through meticulous roasting, we unlock the hidden depths of flavor and aroma in every bean, crafting coffees that inspire and captivate.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of what Pennsylvania has to offer in tasty delights. We are excited to start this series that started with our home state to do some virtual traveling so that everyone can experience what each state has to offer! We are hopeful that our subscribers enjoyed their hands-on tour as well.

Simple Joy Box is a curated subscription box designed to help you embrace the art of a slow-living lifestyle one month at a time. We take the guesswork out of finding your new hobby by introducing new creative habits that allow for more self-expression and create more simple pleasures in your day-to-day life. If you are ready to start your slow-living lifestyle, visit our website to learn more about us, and join our email list to stay up to date on our blogs.


bottom of page