Sometimes this place just gives me a blog-lay-up. Something so ridiculous and self explanatory that there isn't much left for me to do. Here you go: After months of grassroots campaigning and online voting, Binghamton was officially declared "Capital of the Pierogi Pocket of America" by Mrs. T's, the country's largest pierogi maker (and one of my best friends when I was broke in graduate school and could not afford proper protein in my meals).
First, just in case you aren't on a first name basis with pierogi - or perogi, perogy, pirohi, piroghi, pirogi, pirogen, piroshke or pyrohy- MAN they have a lot of variations on the name! Pierogi trace their roots to the Eastern European/Slavic cultures, so you can imagine I enjoyed them at my favorite ethnic festival- the St. John's Ukrainian festival. As far as "comfort foods" go, they are pretty darn good: typically carbo-laden dough stuffed with buttery mashed potatoes and fried in some fatty grease (butter? bacon? who cares!) but they stuff those babies with all kinds of stuff: cheese, fruit, meat, sauerkraut- YUM!
I have to admit, I was pretty darn excited for Binghamton when we beat out stiff competition- including Buffalo, NY, Clifton, N.J. (never heard of it) and Whiting, Indiana (ditto). The online voting attracted 60,000 votes and - get this- a "controversial endorsement reversal by U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y." according to our local paper. WHO KNEW there were such pierogi politics?? (I bet she endorsed Binghamton until a staffer reminded her that Buffalo, NY was also in the running- gotta love the weird lines that politicians have to toe.)
But something about the awkward name nagged at me- why can't we just be "The Pierogi Capital of America"? Is that too much to ask? What is this "Capital of the Pierogi Pocket" stuff? (Get it? Pierogis are stuffed pockets of tasty goodness? very clever ha ha ha). Something seemed fishy.
Well, it turns out that pierogi consumption in the US is mostly concentrated in a geographical area known as the "Pierogi Pocket," which consumes 68% of all pierogis in the US, and that this area includes NY, Pennsylvania, and parts of several nearby states too boring to list. To honor their most loyal and biggest consumer base, Mrs. T's (based in PA) picks a capital of that region. But wait, it gets worse: Binghamton only gets to claim the title for a YEAR! Mrs. T's is apparently a lot smarter than I am, and they know to rotate the honor to keep 'em paying attention. I knew it was too good to be true!
At any rate, BRAVO for Mrs. T's coming up with such a great marketing stunt. And they give $10,000 to the local food bank, to boot. Such a win/win/win for the community and the company- now where is my "Binghamton: Capital of the Pierogi Pocket" tshirt!!??
p.s. Do not confuse pierogis with "spiedies," which are decidedly less tasty and for which Binghamton is (somewhat) legitimately famous.