11 Things People in Pittsburgh Are Irrationally Passionate About

Published On 10/25/2016 Published On 10/25/2016
Pittsburgh Penguins
Bryan Rust of the Pittsburgh Penguins | Pittsburgh Penguins

A city where most residents own multiple black & gold jerseys, Pittsburgh is defined by its obsessive nature. We're a friendly bunch, but when we love (or hate) something, we put 100% into it and will gladly tear into you if you disagree, even if it's respectfully. Whether it's defending chipped ham like it's the last meal our grandma ever served us, or proclaiming our love for Donnie Iris (a great American rock star "known" for his involvement with great hits like "Ah! Leah!" and "Love Is Like a Rock"), Pittsburgh is militant in its regional pride, and we won't hesitate to tell you why you're wrong about all the bad things you've heard about living here: "The air quality isn't that bad! That's not smog, it's just overcast today!" Here are 11 more things that you'll find us standing by until the bitter end:

Flickr/Foo Conner

Self-driving cars

By now, you've probably heard about Uber's newfangled technology that's taking Pittsburgh by storm. Uber's first fleet of autonomous vehicles recently hit the streets and, with two human drivers up front and ready to take the wheel at a moment's notice, they're now transporting willing participants all over the city. While a small percentage of us are ecstatic at this technological advancement, which could dramatically affect Pittsburgh's lack of public transit and increase road safety, it seems most folks are readying their torches and pitchforks at the idea of being driven around by "robot cars." You'll be hard-pressed to find a local that doesn't have a very strong opinion on the matter.

Comparing ourselves to other cities

Even though Pittsburghers are a prideful bunch, we regularly seek validation by comparing our own city to others. "We're like New York City but friendlier!" "We're like San Francisco with less hills!" But we're a humble enough city to nod accordingly when outsiders proclaim we're "like a dirtier version of Portland," or like "Brooklyn with less culture." Pittsburgh is that friend you had in high school that made everybody laugh by constantly putting themselves down.

Flickr/Mike Mozart


Unlike other cities that are obsessed with celebrities and musicians from their hometown, Pittsburgh is far more proud of it's Steel City-based Heinz ketchup company. If you use anything other than Heinz ketchup, you may as well be throwing your fries in the trash. Just for perspective, Christina Aguilera, Michael Keaton, and Jeff Goldblum are all from the greater Pittsburgh area, but dissing one of them won't cause a heated argument during brunch. But there is one celebrity we'd throw down for…

Fotos International/Contributor/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Mister Rogers

This American treasure was born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and has been a quintessential part of every Pittsburgher's childhood since 1968. That cardigan-wearing son of a gun has a more special place in the heart of Western Pennsylvania than anywhere else. Go ahead and say what your want about Andrew Carnegie, but don't mess with Pittsburgh's on-screen grandpa.

Cookie tables

"Cookie table" is likely the first phrase you'll hear when your friends and family discover you're getting married or having any kind of event that requires you to feed people. This regional wedding tradition conjures images of tables stacked sky-high with cookies but, in reality, is just a table covered in plates of semi-dry flour disks that your mom spent about 15 hours making so your guests could fill up on them before dinner.


Buffalo chicken dip

If you're not from here, there's a good chance you don't even know what this is. But if you find yourself at a potluck (another thing Pittsburghers seem to be obsessed with), you'll likely find multiple Crock-Pots and foil pans of this local delicacy being devoured. What's not to love about a steamy pot of cream cheese, chicken, wing sauce, blue cheese, and Monterey Jack?

Complaining about everything that is a constant in Pittsburgh and in no way a surprise

Fact: Pittsburgh has terrible traffic. Fact: Our public transit is also terrible. Fact: The weather here is unpredictable and, once again, terrible. Fact: We all know these things but still complain about them as if all of those potholes on Liberty Ave magically appeared yesterday.

Beto's Pizza

Mediocre pizza

Let's be honest with ourselves: Pittsburgh does not have the most earth-shattering pizza in the world. Most outsiders would describe our pizza offerings as "good," "decent," or maybe even "just OK." Despite this reality, most Pittsburghers are very vocal about which pizza places are the best and which ones should be shut down immediately. One of the most prevalent examples is Beto's Pizza, a South Hills institution that has been putting shredded (and unmelted) cheese on top of its slices (well, squares) for more than 60 years. You either swear by this unorthodox approach to pizza or find it straight-up disgusting. There is no in-between.  

Fish fries (and anything else that can be submerged in oil)

No list of Pittsburgh obsessions would be complete without a nod to our constant need for fried everything: pierogies, wings, French fries, and, of course, fish. When the Lenten season arrives, it doesn't matter if you're Catholic or not: You will inevitably find yourself at a fish fry. There's even a handy map to help you locate the nearest fish fry with search criteria including "homemade pierogies" in case the lack of these hot little potato pockets would be a deal breaker (because, obviously, it would be).

Shepard Fairey mural, Downtown Pittsburgh | Flickr/Devon Christopher Adams

How damn livable this city is

It's seriously all we can talk about. Our rent is cheap, jobs in the tech and medical fields are plentiful, and it seems like every neighborhood is some version of "up-and-coming." The best part about this particular obsession is that Pittsburghers are even infatuated with the less-great things, like the graffiti and collapsing buildings, which we've affectionately named urban decay.

Also, hockey

Sports had to come up eventually. Although football is what most people associate with Pittsburgh, hockey is where the true obsession lies. For Pittsburgh, hockey is religion, full of saintly figures that you worship despite their sometimes questionable behavior. You fight with your family about it, and you do your damnedest to recruit others to love it as much as you do.

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Julianna Bagwell has lived in Pittsburgh for six years and believes her body is now 90% fried dough. She would also like to openly endorse the scary robot cars. To fight with her about how this new technology will lead to an apocalyptic man vs. machine showdown, follow her: @JuliannaLocal.