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Apr 22, 2013 04:36 PM

Pennsylvania products you can't get on the west coast

I've lived most of my 24-year-old life in Central Pennsylvania, but I'm moving to San Francisco in a few weeks. I'm excited about the new food and drink prospects out there, but I'm wondering what sorts things one might miss when leaving Pennsylvania, especially for the west coast.

I know a lot of people who move away buy cases of Yuengling when they come back to visit, although I'm more of a craft beer guy. There are definitely some PA beers I need to stock up on before I go. I know people used to stock up on Tastykakes too, but I'm not sure if their more widely available now?

I know I'm never going to get a decent cheesesteak in CA, but then again that's been hard to get in central PA too. Scrapple is probably hard to come by, but I've never been big on it anyway. I've never been too crazy about most Pennsylvania Dutch food really...except for pumpkin whoopie pies and oatmeal pie (which I think is a southern import).

The abundance of cheap snack foods will be missed. So many brands of chips and pretzels. I'm going to have to eat a lot of lard chips before I go.

what else?

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  1. Grandma Utz can be ordered from California...
    Martin's pretzels can also be ordered, but won't be in any store.

    Lebanon Bologna
    Philadelphia style ice cream.

    Root Tea.

    Anyone know if you can find Troegenator on the west coast?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Chowrin

      Boars Head makes a lebanon bologna. Now, mind you, it's not as good as Kunzlers or other local brands. But Kunzlers can be ordered online on their website.

      -Middleswarth Chips
      -Hard pretzels in a bag w/ a twist tie ;)
      -Ham spread
      -Shoo fly pies (do peeps eat these?)
      -Ring bologna (plain & garlic)
      -Hoagies & cosmos
      -potato bread (not sure about this one)
      -Hellman's, I think they call it Best Foods Mayo but it's the same from what I understand
      -Peanutbutter meltaways
      -Birch beer

      SF is one of my most favorite food cities. You're a very lucky man. Happy Trails!

      1. re: lynnlato

        Penn Dutch brand Lebanon Bologna is made by Seltzer's of Lebanon. Check grocery stores to see if they carry it, and ask them to if they don't. It's marketed nation-wide.
        Also look for Mennonite communities in your area. They usually have a store that carries real lebanon and sweet bologna, scrapple, etc. The one near me even carries Kutztown Root Beer.
        Some CVS and Walgreen's are supposedly selling Wolfgang candy, but I have yet to find one that does.

        1. re: JEBeck

          Lebanon Bologna lunchmeat goes bad if you leave it too long.
          Buying it from Giant Eagle seems a waste of time --
          not enough turnover.

          1. re: Chowrin

            I've bought it from grocery stores in the south for years and have never gotten a bad batch. The salt content alone makes it last longer, and the grocery stores' deli coolers are made to preserve meats longer. If it didn't sell they wouldn't carry it.

    2. I moved from Pittsburgh to San Diego I realize SoCal is different than North, but I haven't missed many products.

      There seem to be a lot more offerings out this way. I do miss Sheetz at times though.

      Pretty sure I've seen tastykakes, but I'm guessing you'll find some asian bakery/import store with stuff you'll like even better.

      Beer might be something, but you'll find a bunch of new ones.

      I guess my point is..I really don't miss much, I think there's a lot more selection out this way.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Rodzilla

        I have moved to Texas and I'm at Sheetz everyday when I come home to visit :(

      2. Baumann's apple butter
        Cope's dried corn
        Stoudt beer

        1 Reply
        1. Living in San Francisco I noticed the Pennsylvania foods that I missed most were specific brands of items. As you noted Tastykakes and various brands of chips (non-lard) are/were not available. Philadelphia style ice cream is easily obtained as it is any ice cream meeting these standards: "in the United States, ice cream made with just cream, sugar, and a flavouring (usually fruit) is sometimes referred to as "Philadelphia style" ice cream". You may not be able to find your specific brand of pretzel for sure. Scrapple, doubt it. I would suggest to you will be most please with food offering in SF. One of my favorite sweet treats was "Its It" a long time SF favorite. As a craft beer guy you will be pleased as one of the first small craft beers is from the city, Anchor! San Francisco (NEVER FRISCO)has been frequently call" the city that knows how to eat".

          10 Replies
          1. re: Bacchus101

            Name some brands/places I could find some Philly style ice cream in SF?
            Next time I'll visit I will swing by.

            Right. You'll miss the MILK, which is why the Creamery ice cream is so good.

            Midstate milk is far better than any you'll find nearly anyplace else. Out here in pittsburgh, I miss it.

            1. re: Bacchus101

              Although you did not specifically indicate YOU were interested in Philadelphia style ice cream it was mention that it was not available. Oh contraire! Breyer's, most of which is Philadelphia style, they do have some custard based, is available at many stores in the bay area including Walgreens. Any Ice Cream made by churning milk,cream, sugar and flavouring is Philadelphia, American or New York ice cream as opposed to custard based sometimes referred to as French. Facts not opinions so also this :According to the University of Minn. the highest quality milk in the world is from Switzerland. Best wishes on the "left coast" My guess is you will love it and the fantastic variety of foods thus perhaps saving the special PA foods for your visits back east.

              1. re: Bacchus101

                I didn't think Breyers was still doing Philadelphia style anything, anymore... (I buy turkey hill, which, if not local to pittsburgh, at least makes "blitzburgh").

                Look up what they mean by highest quality (the U Minn folks)... it's fascinating, but somewhat misleading. They're particularly focused on what a farmer can do to improve their taste/yield.

                All that being said, the quality of grass and water plays a large role in what places have good tasting milk.

                Lancaster area has the third best milk in the Western Hemisphere.

                1. re: Chowrin

                  Turkey Hill is Eastern PA/Chester-Lancaster County

                  1. re: sal_acid

                    Just recently expanded to the Pittsburgh area! (their logo is even aping the steelers now!... I kinda think that might be intentional...) Believe everything's still made in eastern pa.

                    (sides: op was from central pa, where you do see turkey hill all the time)

                  2. re: Chowrin

                    I literally *just* moved from Lancaster County to Pittsburgh on Sunday after living there for three years (I'm actually in this forum looking for Pittsburgh dining ideas for tonight, but I had to drop by this thread when I saw the title).

                    I'm curious about your comment that "Lancaster area has the third best milk in the Western Hemisphere."

                    I lived in Mount Joy and bought Kreider's because it was the closest dairy to my house and so it seemed like a good idea to go with that, but I honestly hadn't noticed that it was super-delicious or anything. I did once get a glass jar of very good raw milk from the Lancaster Central Market, but I then did some reading on raw milk and decided I wasn't quite ready to take my life into my own hands like that.

                    I'll be passing through the Lancaster area periodically and would buy some milk to bring back home here to Pittsburgh if I had a specific recommendation. Maybe some of the creamline milk from the Central Market (still pasteurized, so safer)? Or something in stores I never knew about?

                    FWIW, I've fallen in love with Ronnybrook's up in New York, but it's so darned expensive...

                    1. re: alaskanjackal

                      It's the whole lancaster/hershey area (mostly the soil/grass, not the cows). Though there's also another decent dairy area around Raystown Lake.

                      1. re: Chowrin

                        Any particular dairies or milk styles you would recommend? The normal local stuff you see in Darrenkamp's, Stauffers of Kissell Hill, etc. is pretty plain and honestly not that different than the Swiss or store-brand stuff in Giant or Weis, IME.

                      2. re: alaskanjackal

                        It's the whole lancaster/hershey area (mostly the soil/grass, not the cows). Though there's also another decent dairy area around Raystown Lake.

                  3. re: Bacchus101

                    Right -- brand-specific products are what the OP will miss out West. (Better to ask for recipes of local favorite prepared foods, like whoopie pies/gobs, PA ethnic eats, etc., as they may be harder to find in SF.) Suggest that OP post specifics on the SF board to find out if certain foods and products are commonly available. Of course, it's hard to know what you'll miss until it's gone!

                    Beer: Surprisingly, a quick search shows that a couple of places sell bottles of Yuengling Lager for $5-6/bottle. Many of the great craft beers you can get in PA, however, are not available at all, eg, Weyerbacher, Yard's, et al (most varieties of Dogfish Head and, even, haha, Straub, although the former is not from PA and the latter is not great or even craft). Check beermenus.

                    Snack food: Looks like Tastykakes are found all over the East Coast and the Southeast, but the freshest are always in the Philly area, so you may not be missing much in terms of freshest depending on your location. Name your favorite local snack food; I have had friends and family mail me Middleswarth Bar-B-Q chips which are only available in some parts of central PA. Check the website for pasnacks?

                  4. You will MISS Wise Potato Chips, that's for sure! Also Chinese Won Ton Soup and Eggrolls too....eggrolls out west are spring rolls. Very hard to come by a decent eggroll.

                    Wedding Soup is another big missing item out here. And pizza is very different. You can get good pizza, but not like the kind in Pittsburgh and New York. You won't see much if any of any kind of Polish food and not a lot of earthy Italian food (lots of upscale Italian though). Soft pretzels will more likely have sugar on them instead of salt, the very common fried fish sandwich which every restaurant in Pittsburgh seems to have; you will NEVER see here.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: cimero

                      I was going to say Wise Potato Chips too.