The Office May End, But Scanton Lives!

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Just heard from my son-in-law, Greg, that next season (season nine) will be the last for The Office. Too bad, but it had a long run and was always entertaining.

Greg and I visited Scranton, Pennsylvania, home to the fictional show, a couple of times and took the Office Tours of some of the locations where the show either filmed or mentioned frequently. The other Office fans on the tours were always a great bunch and we had a lot of laughs with them.

Scranton lays claim to being the Electric City and the electricity there was certainly splendid.

Poor Richard’s Pub, often mentioned on the show, is actually in a bowling alley across the parking lot from Alfredo’s Pizza Café, where I had what may well be the best pizzas of my life.

Scranton is an interesting city even without the Office connection. It has lots of trains; the Steamtown Mall downtown is adjacent to the old Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad yard that goes back many decades and still has steam locomotives moving about. It smells very odd; coal fumes, I guess.

Thanks to the good folks at http://www.Shorpy.com, we can see a view from just about the same position taken in 1900. Doesn’t look all that different, does it? That long, sloping walkway is still in place, leading now to a railroad museum, I believe:

Scranton is also in coal-mining country, though I’m a little too claustrophobic to want to tour a coal mine.

Poor Richard’s is more my style:

There’s a street-corner sign claiming to be the site of the birth of doo-wop but I didn’t have time to explore the site or the claim. The town’s newspaper building has great old-fashioned elevators and there’s a 1930’s-era radio broadcast studio there that’s most interesting.

Greg and I had lunch both visits at Cooper’s Seafood House as part of the tours. That’s one of the tour buses in the photo below. Cooper’s as seen on the show is a Hollywood recreation, but they did a good job of it; it’s a fun and funky place and the food is excellent. You may not think a beet salad would be something special, but at Cooper’s it was. The bathrooms are even themed: Elvis for the ladies and The Beatles for the gents. Click on my photo below to enlarge it and you’ll see the pirate above the entrance and the octopus on the deck above that! Wonderful place and very near where Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton’s dad were born.

If you plan to visit Scranton, the Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel, as the name implies, is the old train station repurposed and a very pleasant place to stay.

I didn’t take the two hotel photos; they’re from the hotel’s website, and the old black-and-white railyard photo is from the Shorpy.com collection of glass-plate and other historic imagery. All the other photos were taken with my trusty iPhone.

I hope to visit Scranton again. There’s a lot to see and do.

How To Make A Granddad Feel Great . . .

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And the answer is not a quart of Old Grand-Dad!

As mentioned in an earlier entry, I visited my daughter and grand-daughters today in Hanover, Pennsylvania. Patty had to work and Aaron is away for the week, so I drove up by myself. Being the world’s worst driver made me nervous about the trip, and I couldn’t stay as long as I wanted to.

So we toured the Utz factory, explored Hanover a while, and then, back at Neenie’s, I got to play with Sophie (nine months old and now crawling) and Maddie, who’s three. Maddie and I did a jigsaw puzzle, watched some TV, and Maddie played her pink Dora the Explorer guitar for me.

After I got home, I was a bit downcast that I couldn’t stay longer than a few hours, and then Neenie emailed me something that made my day. When Greg came home after work, he asked Maddie. “Did PopPop come visit you today?”

And Maddie replied, “Yeah; it was awesome!”

Is It Uhtz or Ootz?


The movie at the beginning of the tour pronounced it Uhtz, so I suppose that’s the official way to say it! As long as you don’t say Frito-Lay or Planter’s, the folks at Utz are probably happy.

My daughter and grand-daughters and I visited the main Utz factory on High Street, in Hanover, Pennsylvania, today. It was impressive, though the term “tour” implies that you are guided through a facility by a person. Not so. The folks at Utz barely have one toe in the water when it comes to promoting their history and manufacturing technique. Seems odd.

They don’t allow photography inside the plant unless someone in authority has okayed it first and I couldn’t find anyone to ask. So I can’t show you the manufacturing there; you’ll have to imagine what it looks like.

If I were Utz, I’d be fine with folks taking photos of their chip-making process. It was modern, efficient and ultra-clean. The sight of all those raw potatoes whizzing through chutes and conveyers and turning into mounds of tasty chips seems worthy of a picture or two, wouldn’t you think?

Before the tour, which is self-guided, one walks up a flight of stairs into what looks like a medium-sized company’s break room. There is a small theater running an endless-loop 15-minute film, which I didn’t watch once they said the word “Utz.” As I mentioned earlier, I wanted the official pronunciation.

Here’s the Utz Mission Statement at the foot of the stairs. Since I hadn’t gone up the stairs yet, I hope this photo isn’t in violation of the Utz no-photo policy. This is a typical over-thought mission statement, which I guarantee you won’t finish reading and that no employee there can recite. A mission statement shouldn’t be over twelve words. So something like “Making the World Happier With the Best Snacks We Can Make” would probably be better and about 60 words shorter:

Also below the stairs is a display showing some old machinery:

Hey; it’s an iPhone photo! Be nice!!!

A few displays inside the break-room show the early history of Utz and gave my daughter and me a clue as to where the firm started in Hanover. More on that in a minute.

The main portion of the “tour” is a walk down a long corridor where the various stations in the chip-making process can be viewed through large windows. You can press a button and a recording explains what’s going on at each point.

This reminded me of the corridor in a brushless car wash.

The Utz staff as seen through the glass windows was friendly; some waved at my grand-daughter and she was delighted. Also, they have cute little wooden stiles where kids can climb up and see through the glass. My older grand-daughter thought they were the best part of the tour.

The pototoes are turned into a variety of chips and packaged before your eyes. Too bad I can’t show you any photos, as it really was impressive. It is a huge operation.

My thoughts drifted back, as I looked at this lackluster effort at a factory tour, to the Tampa Busch Gardens tour setup back in the early 1970s. It was much the same as the Utz tour is now, except they had people walking you through the place and there were gardens and exotic birds outside the facility. Now there are rides, shows, music and other entertainment and the whole place generates revenue.

After the tour, my daughter and I decided to try to find out where Utz started. We knew it was a house on McAlister Street in Hanover. We also knew that, as the company grew, William and Salie Utz, who started in 1921 by selling chips cooked in their kitchen, enlarged their home. After a few years of growth, they built a small factory behind the house.

The house isn’t marked, but Neenie found it by spotting the factory (now closed) in the alley behind the house. Notice the additions on the back of the residence:

Here’s the front of the original Utz factory, which reminds me somehow of the Alamo:

Quite a history and quite an impressive operation. I hope the firm someday decides to showcase it properly!

Welcome, New Readers!

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Wow! Thanks to WordPress’ Freshly Pressed highlight of my blog, I’ve had well over 1,000 visitors so far today from 13 different countries. Welcome to you all! And thanks for the nice comments.

I hope you found the blog worth your while, and will come back to visit often. Today, I toured the main Utz snack factory in Hanover, Pennsylvania, with my daughter and grand-daughters and will be posting on that in the next day or so. As always, I’ll try to come up with a different outlook on the subject and explore a bit to provide you with a unique and fun report.

Thanks again!!!


By the day’s end (and it seems that WordPress runs on Greenwich Mean Time), there were over 1,200 visitors here. Thanks, all!!!

Here’s a screen-grab of a breakdown by country which I took a few hours before the day ended. It gives an idea of where the readers were from at that point. How cool!!!