The Land of Penn and Plenty: Bringing History to the Table

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Since its founding in 1681 by William Penn (1644-1718), Pennsylvania has been universally acknowledged for its abundance of rich soil, game, fish, and fowl, a bountiful legacy that spawned culinary traditions over the past three centuries. This legacy has been made more expansive by the diverse peoples Penn welcomed to his colony, all of whom brought distinctive cookery and customs from their native countries that have been incorporated into an unusual mosaic made up of both regional and ethnic tastes and foodways.

Pennsylvania's culinary landscape has evolved over the years and continues to broaden with arriving immigrants. From the earliest Swedish, English, and German pioneers to following waves of Irish, Scots, African, Eastern, Southern and Central European, and Italian settlers, and followed by Asians and Latinos during mid- to late twentieth century, Pennsylvania is truly a "melting pot" of nationalities and their culinary experiences.

As we look back through time to assess the impact of food on our history and heritage, we must also look to today and forward to the future. Food sustains our economy; agriculture is the commonwealth’s largest industry. Pennsylvania has been — and is — home to farms, orchards, farmers markets, hatcheries and fisheries, grain mills, breweries, canneries, vineyards, butchers, processors, factories, and bakeries that produce a number of time-honored staples, but also provide new and unusual foods — made possible by innovative and advanced technologies — that enhance and continue our illustrious culinary heritage. In addition, we respect our longstanding tradition of "farm to table," which provides healthy Pennsylvania-grown produce and locally-made foodstuffs for our families, especially children, the future of the Keystone State.

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission's 2012 theme "The Land of Penn and Plenty: Bringing History to the Table" invites all residents and visitors to sample and share the richness and diversity that Pennsylvania offers.