Simply put, Philadelphia is a city that loves to get trolled. We’re never more invigorated than when defending our home turf from naysayers. Even if we think a certain Philly trope or tradition is misguided or foolish, far be it from anyone else to say so - an outsider attack just brings our city-state patriotism to the fore.
Lucky for us, people love to troll Philadelphia. Truth be told, most of the time it’s because they know the response it will provoke (Hi, BuzzFeed!). It’s a two-way street: they bad-mouth us, we get indignant, people on both sides talk about how silly the argument is, and Philly’s reputation as an underdog city flourishes unabated.
That dynamic was recently on display when Jon Stewart decided to trash talk Philadelphia as part of his opening monologue on The Daily Show. It was payback for Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg’s claim that he got food poisoning while eating at Shake Shack at the Mets CitiField. It was a relatively good-natured rant - you could tell there was no wrath behind it - and while he was talking about how gross cheesesteaks are, Stewart even admitted (in a whispered aside) that he loved them.
Fact is, as much as we’ll come to the defense of the cheesesteak, there are other foods that show off the Philadelphia region better.
Without further ado, here are five Philly foods that Jon Stewart needs to try.
Roast Pork Sandwich
It has never gotten quite as much press as its beef-and-cheese cousin, but locals know this is the real meat sandwich of Philadelphia. An Italian roll filled with juicy, dripping roast pork slices next to garlicky broccoli rabe with thick sticks of sharp provolone is the bomb. Stewart can even try it at a similarly named establishment - John’s Roast Pork - or head to DiNic’s in Reading Terminal Market - we’re sure they’ll let him jump the huge line.
Cinnabon? Not so fast. The dessert-for-breakfast favorite was born in Philadelphia, brought over by German immigrants who had long baked “schnecken” (snail pastry) in their home countries. Pennsylvania Dutch kitchens were producing these morning palate pleasers in great numbers as early as the 17th century. We put together a list of 30 different places to find these treats, together with a handy map that Stewart can provide to his driver for a sticky bun tour.
Ohhhhhhh, now we get it. When Stewart referred to cheesesteaks as being made from “waste beef scraps” and “the parts of the cow other people throw away” he was mixing up that sandwich with our other famous meat dish. Scrapple *is* made from scraps, but they’re pork scraps, braised and boiled and mixed with cornmeal into a terrine that’s sliced and fried up crisp for one of the most unique breakfast foods ever. Don’t ask how the scrapple is made, just enjoy the scrapple. (He can easily try it at Dutch Eating Place or Down Home Diner when he’s in RTM.)
These seasonal candies aren’t Irish, and they aren’t potato and you don’t even have to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day to enjoy them, although that’s when they come around. Christopher’s Chocolates in Newtown Square is the world’s most prolific producer of the cinnamon-coated coconut cream balls, selling them as OH Ryan’s Irish Potatoes. Anthony’s Chocolate House in the Italian Market is also a good place for Stewart to look when he comes for a visit next March.
Here's another baked snack we can thank the Pennsylvania Dutch for. The versions in Philadelphia are better than the ginormous originals in Bavaria (and certainly better than the jaw-breaking knockoffs in NYC carts) - they’re softer, chewier and easier to handle, thanks to their slightly squished shape. A midnight trip to the Center City Pretzel Co. on Washington Avenue will let Stewart cop a handful hot and fresh out of the oven, or he can stop into Wawa or Philly Pretzel Factory on the drive in or out of town.