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Here Are 13 Stereotypes About Pennsylvania That Need To Be Set Straight

Any culture inevitably leads to a bunch of generalized beliefs held by people who just don’t get it. Here in the U.S., we are lucky to have fifty different states to jump to conclusions about, so that it’s almost impossible to wipe ignorant notions from your mind about every region in the country. Today I’m here to talk about Pennsylvanian stereotypes and to set the record straight.

1. Everyone in Pennsylvania is Amish. 

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It’s true that Pennsylvania has the biggest Amish population in the world, which a pretty cool claim to fame. Pennsylvania Dutch culture has lent us some wonderful things, like our rich agricultural industry and the most amazing baked goods you’ll ever consume. Most of the state, however, does use electricity, running water, and transportation that doesn’t consist of a horse and buggy.

2. Everyone in Philadelphia is a huge asshole. 

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As much as I love the show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, it definitely plays off of the stereotype that Philadelphians are rude. Pedestrians might be impatient and people you encounter on the street might speak in a curt, blunt manner– but that’s only because we have places to be and things to do. Why beat around the bush or put up a superficially sweet facade? Let’s face it, Philadelphians are no more or less angry than everyone else in the country. If you continue to insist that we are, you might get hit.

3. Everyone hits deer, all the time. 
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Okay, honestly there are deer everywhere… And they do have a habit of running straight into cars. This stereotype is exaggerated, though, as hitting a deer with your pickup truck is not an everyday occurrence. Deer driving pickup trucks, on the other hand…

4. Everything stops for hunting season.

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Pennsylvania has the highest number of registered hunters in the country, and most people at least have friends or family who enjoy hunting. However, there are tons of PA residents who have never worn cammo, held a gun, or even stepped foot into the woods. Our kindergarteners don’t take field trips to target practice. In fact, plenty of vegetarian people even live here.

5. Everyone subsists off of Philly cheesesteaks and Shoofly Pie.

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I’ve been living in Pennsylvania my entire life and I’m not even completely sure what shoofly pie is. I think it’s called that because it’s made out of molasses and you have to shoo the flies away when you eat it. Or something. Undoubtedly, many delicious food traditions originated in Pennsylvania, like the shoofly pie and Philly cheesesteak, but like anywhere else, these foods aren’t definitive of the Pennsylvania palette.

6. Everyone is a certifiably insane sports fan.6

Okay, like anywhere, Pennsylvania has its rabid fans. Flyers fans are notoriously ornery when their team loses and Steelers fans are known for setting up camp all over the country. That doesn’t mean we’re crazy, though! Just dedicated. And you won’t have to look too far to find people in Pennsylvania who don’t really care about sports… (slowly raises hand.)

7. How nice. Pennsylvania gets all four seasons. That sounds so pleasant and enjoyable. 

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Yes, in theory, all four seasons are wonderful. Even in practice, having an array of varied weather is refreshing. Yet, you will find few people in Pennsylvania who seem to appreciate the aspects of each season… Instead, we complain endlessly. Winter is too cold, Spring induces allergies, Summer is too hot, and Fall… Well, fall might garner the least amount of complaints, but you’ll still find naysayers condemning its chilly wind and messy leaves. Here in PA, our attitude toward weather embodies the saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side.” (Though we would find something to complain about if we found that mythical green grass.)

8. Everyone’s father or grandfather worked in a coal mine or steel mill. 
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You will find that many PA residents do have a family history with the coal or steel industry, though we don’t all have the black lung or anything. (cough, cough.)

9. Pennsylvanians, Pittsburghers in particular, put ketchup on everything. 9

Yeah, Heinz is located in Pittsburgh which is something for us Pennsylvanians to be proud of. We do, however, know what tomato sauce is. I won’t lie to you, though, if you haven’t tried ketchup on meatloaf, mac and cheese, or scrambled eggs you don’t know what you’re missing. Maybe I’m betraying myself on this one…

10. The majority of Pennsylvania comprises a gun-wieldin’, truck-drivin’, trailer park-dwellin’, xenophobic region called Pennsyltucky.

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Pennsylvania’s geography can, within reason, be dumbed down to this: you have Philadelphia straddling the eastern border, Pittsburgh straddling the western border, and plenty of rural country in the middle. Pennsylvania, in reality, is so much more than this. While we do have a substantial conservative population, let me remind you that in elections, Pennsylvania is a swing state. In fact, in the 2012 election, Pennsylvania went democrat. Our population is diverse and our culture varied from region to region– offering a rich experience for the resident and visitor alike.

11. Pennsylvania is one of the most haunted places in the country. 
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I’m not sure how this stereotype began. Maybe because “Pennsylvania” sounds a lot like “Transylvania,” Dracula’s legendary home. As you probably know, though, Transylvania is a historical region in Romania that has nothing to do with our state. However it began, let me assure you that Pennsylvania is no more haunted than anywhere else in the country. I definitely did not wake up this morning to see an apparition of Ben Franklin standing at the foot of my bed…

12. Everyone in Pennsylvania is a terrible driver. 

Every single state is stereotyped as having awful drivers, Pennsylvania being no exception. I’m ready to sit back and accept the fact that people in general are not good at driving. Can we just accept this and stop stigmatizing individual states and regions? I’m just one girl working towards world peace here…

13. Pennsylvanians all go to Penn State University.

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Penn State main campus has a crazy amount of students– about 40,000 undergraduates, and they have 19 satellite campuses throughout the state. As you can imagine, a fair amount of Pennsylvanians receive their education here, but far from all. Plenty go out of state or to one of many fine institutions in Pennsylvania that aren’t PSU.

Well, there you have it. Hopefully your preconceived notions of Pennsylvania have been shattered and you’re left with my preconceived notions. Have I missed any stereotypes, or have I gotten anything wrong? Feel free to battle it out in the comments. I’ll be over here eating my ketchup-covered Hershey’s bar while chatting with Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Christi
Christi is from Allentown and currently lives and goes to school in Pittsburgh.