Philadelphians take their food seriously, and the holiday season intensifies our passion. Whether it’s a feast offered once a year or a familiar sight on store shelves, there are tastes and smells that have for generations defined the holidays in the city. Some are so loaded with nostalgia that the sight alone of these seasonal treats signal the kick-off of Philly festivities.
These are the seven Philly foods and drinks that no holiday season is complete without.
1. Bring in the cannoli
When your city cranks out the most mouth-watering cannolis this side of Italy, you make that the centerpiece of your holiday spreads. Lines span blocks at favorite spots like Termini Bros. and Isgro, and we’ll gladly wait to ensure that we have this decadent dessert on our table.
2. Actually good fruitcake
We all know the fruitcakes that are closer to blocks of cement than edible pastries. In Philly, we don’t eat those. Instead, we enjoy the moist and delicious fruitcakes made by the likes of Bredenbeck’s. Bringing these fruitcakes around to holiday meals in Philly assures an invite back.
3. Sweet treats from Pennsylvania Dutch
Pennsylvania Dutch eggnog is a classic. It can help knock out colds, be a delicious after-dinner treat, or serve as a welcome distraction for the family members you aren’t so happy to see. The appearance of this familiar bottle on shelves helps warm our hearts even before the boozy contents enter our system.
4. We gotta have a Wawa Gobbler
During the holidays, Wawa delivers (literally). With turkey, gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce held together on a hoagie roll, a traditional meal can be had with the push of a touchscreen. The Gobbler features all of the taste and none of the fuss of cooking an all-day feast.
5. Elaborate seafood spreads on Christmas Eve
Everyone knows at least one family who dines on the traditional Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes. The meal is so entrenched in Philadelphia history that it’s offered in restaurants in every corner of the city. It’s a brilliant way to ensure that everyone sleeps soundly during Santa’s visit later in the evening.
6. Tastykake for sharing and for not sharing
We love the good stuff from the best bakeries in the City of Brotherly Love. But sometimes, you have to go with the basics, like cookies in a bucket from Tastykake. They’re easy to find, easy to eat, easy to gift, and they add a familiar hint of holiday decor to store shelves.
7. Elves, but not for kids
You can’t really say it’s the holidays until you’ve had your first Mad Elf of the season. The flavorful Tröegs holiday classic is the perfect match for a cannoli treat. Some find seasonal comfort in eggnog, some find it in Mad Elf — whatever the choice, you come out a winner.