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How to Become a Pennsylvanian in 17 Easy Steps

by Kayla Washko Jun 17, 2015

1. Start dropping your infinitives.

The infinitive “to be” is not in our vocabulary, at least in the western part of the state. The dishes need washed, the car needs fixed, and the lawn needs mowed.

2. Hold your wedding reception at a fire hall.

And don’t forget about the real reason your guests are coming: the cookie table!

3. Say you’re from Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, even if you’re not.

Spare yourself the grief when talking to out-of-staters. Their eyes will glaze over if you try to talk about Allentown or Altoona, Williamsport or West Chester. And even if they are listening, they’ll still ask you how far you are from the nearest city.

4. Live and breathe sports—especially football.

Stock up on the Eagles or Steelers fan garb and replace your current events reading with a good sports column or blog.

5. Form a position on Penn State.

There is no such thing as indifference on this subject. You’re either: 1) An alumnus or your parent was or one of your distant relatives was, giving you a die-hard, lifelong devotion to the school and its sports teams OR 2) You went to college in a “real city” and despise Penn State culture.

6. Brag about PA’s historical landmarks and treasures.

Where else can you find the first hospital and medical school in America, the site of the “High Water Mark of the Rebellion,” the steepest incline plane in the world, a horseshoe-shaped railroad track, and a house built over a freakin’ waterfall? Yeah, that’s right. Nowhere else.

7. Learn the regional dialect.

Some consider our regional dialects to be ugly, but we’re proud of them. In fact, the unique way we speak has become the subject of many scholarly papers and news articles. To be fair, there’s plenty of self-ridicule when it comes to the subject, too. We’ll be glad school you in everything from the meaning of “jawn” and “jeet” on the eastern side of the state to “nebby” and “slippy” on the western side.

8. Get used to grabbing lunch at a convenience store…

Wawa and Sheetz sell anything you could possibly want. In fact, they probably have a better selection than most local restaurants.

9. …And stocking up on alcohol.

You can only buy alcohol at your local state store or beer distributor. That means no more late-night emergency convenience store runs. We know it sucks and apologize in advance.

10. Forget all other ketchup brands but “Heinz.”

Hunt’s who?

11. Observe all the major holidays…

We celebrate all the typical ones, plus special bonus holidays like Groundhog Day and the first day of rifle deer season.

12. …And eat pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day.

Like so many of our culinary traditions, this one comes from the Pennsylvania Dutch. You’re welcome.

13. Learn to refer to “Intercourse,” “Climax,” “Big Beaver,” and “Virginville” without giggling.

They’re town names, you sicko!

14. Find comfort in “the snack belt.”

Herr’s, Martin’s, Revonah Pretzels, Snyder’s and Utz—they’re all headquartered in PA. And oh yeah, did we mention Hershey Park is here?

15. Accept that it’s not always sunny in Philadelphia—or anywhere else in PA for that matter.

The dreariness and the cold build character.

16. Develop a superiority complex over other Rust Belt states.

Yeah yeah, we suffered massive population and job loss after the collapse of the steel industry just like the rest of them. But that’s in the past. We’ve bounced back. We’ve diversified our economy. It’s your job to defend PA against insults and attacks, especially any sentiment that Pennsylvania is “basically the same as Ohio.” We are definitely not like Ohio.

17. But stay proud of your roots.

Our grandparents were farmers, steel workers and coal miners. And we’re damn proud of the blood, sweat and tears they sacrificed to get us here.

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