Did you know Spotlight PA is a nonprofit? Learn more about our nonpartisan journalism »
Skip to main content
Main content

Taste-testing Herr’s tomato pie, roast pork chips

Plus, miniature buildings in the mountains.

Welcome to PA Local, a free weekly newsletter about the great people, amazing places, and delicious food of Pennsylvania.
Your Postmaster: Tanisha Thomas

July 14, 2023
Inside this edition: Which trial, Barbie-sized, out of the way, firsthand furries, secondhand embarrassment, Pixar mini-golf, and potato chip critics.
🏆 SEVEN QUESTIONS: It was a busy week in Pennsylvania news. Were you paying attention? Prove it with the latest edition of The Great PA News Quiz: University funding blocked and a historic market burns.
A Pennsylvania-centric trivia question.

Founder William Penn presided over a Pennsylvania witch trial before the infamous Salem Witch trials took place. True or false?

(Keep scrolling for the answer, but don't miss all the good stuff in between. Like what you read? Forward this email to a friend.)

Our five favorite Pennsylvania stories of the week.

»  One place worth visiting: Barbie is almost here, but you don't have to wait for fun-size entertainment. Head over to this "cluster of adorable miniature buildings in the Pennsylvania mountains."

» One place worth finding: This out-of-the-way attraction has a creamery, two 18-hole mini-golf courses, an arcade, eatery, and more. CDT calls Heisler’s Cloverleaf Dairy in Schuylkill County "a hidden gem."

» One tour worth taking: Furries. Furries everywhere! Pittsburgh City Paper recently took its readers on a first-person, "fur and loathing"-style tour of one of the the biggest furry conventions in the country.

» One story worth reading (and a laugh): Are Philly men embarrassing? After a TikToker revealed Keke Palmer’s scrutinized partner is from the city, The Inquirer (paywall) did a deeper dive into the question.

» Two stories worth reading: Philadelphia is the least likely place for an alien encounter in Pennsylvania, according to this study, and the most likely for playing a Pixar-themed round of mini-golf this summer.

Test your knowledge and celebrate the one-year anniversary of Spotlight PA's State College bureau from 4:30-7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 6 upstairs at Axemann Brewery in Bellefonte. 
The top stories published by Spotlight PA this week.
» COVID-19 UPDATE: Your guide to finding resources on cases, vaccines, and tests

» Bad blood, technicalities snarl Pa.'s 2023 budget

» Pitt, Penn State funding caught in Pa. budget impasse

» Meek Mill-inspired probation bill not without its critics
Three bags of Herr's potato chips inspired by Philadelphia restaurants are pictured.
Herr’s Flavored by Philly chips. (Tyger Williams / Philadelphia Inquirer)

In June, Herr’s — the Chester County-based snack food empire — introduced three new chip flavors inspired by Philadelphia-area eateries.

The company did so as part of the second Flavored By Philly competition, which asks the public to buy the chips and then vote on their favorite through Aug. 8. The business behind the winning chip gets $10,000. 

PA Local asked for volunteers to try the chips, and three brave souls stepped up: Government Editor Katie Meyer, Government Reporter Kate Huangpu, and Operations Manager Skyler Cruz.

Below is an edited and condensed version of a conversation they had about the chips on Slack.

PA Local: Katie, Kate, and Skyler, thank you so much for stepping up to the plate and agreeing to sample Herr's special Flavored By Philly chips for journalism.

The chips are inspired by the following: tomato pie at Corropolese Bakery in Norristown; the roast pork sandwich from John’s Roast Pork in Philadelphia; and Korean BBQ wings at Mike’s BBQ in Philadelphia. Have you been to any or all of these places?

Kate Huangpu: I haven't been to any of those places.

Skyler Cruz: I've certainly seen John's but don't think I've eaten at any of these.

Katie Meyer: John's, yes. Others, no!

PA Local: But I believe all three of you have had tomato pie elsewhere? Anyone want to define it for the uninitiated?

Skyler: Big fan of tomato pie! It's like cheeseless pizza, usually served cold, with a crisp crust and a base of delicious tomato sauce.

Katie: Beautiful definition.

Kate: ^^^ Usually a sprinkling of parmesan on top as well.

PA Local: What did you think of the tomato pie chips? They have a very, uh, interesting smell from my personal experience.

Kate: It was like being punched in the face by a bottle of Heinz.

Skyler: The smell was a surprise.

Katie: I need to preface my answer by saying I ate these in a movie theater and foisted them on friends. the overwhelming review was that they smelled like feet.

Skyler: I found the smell to be more in my face than the actual flavor?

Katie: They create a disturbance if you eat them in a crowd. but also, that bag was consumed the most! so it's a mixed bag.

PA Local: Did they taste like tomato pie? Or more like ketchup?

Kate: Definitely more like ketchup.

Katie: Pretty sweet. they were not my personal favorite!

Skyler: Just ate another one, I feel like they're very standard chip with a hint of ketchup.

Kate: I also just ate another one and to my palette it's definitely too sweet (kinda like ketchup).

PA Local: OK, how about the roast pork? Which, per the ingredients, were meat-free.

Skyler: There was a bold flavor! I was surprised how much it did remind me of roast pork.

Kate: That was a surprising flavor. It really tasted just like a pork sandwich.

Skyler: Unfortunately, not really what I want from a snacking chip.

Kate: Upon initial tasting, I was definitely taken aback. But I do keep on going back for more.

Katie: Oh I disagree, that's exactly what I want from a chip. Roast pork was by far my favorite! Once you get over the meat thing it is smooth sailing.

Skyler: I feel like every one of them I eat is a meal. A very robust flavor, and a good one, but after each I need to sit down.

Kate: I think the roast pork was the most unique flavor. Like, I've heard of tomato chips and barbecue chips. I've never heard of a roast pork chip.

PA Local: And finally the similarly meat-free Korean BBQ wings?

Kate: I think that was my favorite just because I love BBQ chips. And that chip was like BBQ with a little soy sauce flavor.

Skyler: Agreed, as a big BBQ chip fan it was easily my favorite. I ate it last thinking it would be the most regular but I really liked the twist!

Katie: I was expecting to really like that one but unfortunately did not. Maybe the slight soy sauce funkiness put me off. but I support Korean bbq and appreciate the effort.

Skyler: It's reminiscent of some instant noodles I'm fond of, which maybe isn't the most ringing endorsement.

PA Local: It seems like the verdict is pretty clear, but I'm still going to ask: Which was your favorite, and which was your least favorite? Would you willingly eat any of these again?

Skyler: Favorite: Korean BBQ. Least favorite: Tomato Pie. I will be happily finishing my bag of KBBQ but the others I'll probably never try again.

Katie: Personally: roast pork #1! After that it's kind of a tie between tomato pie and KBBQ, but I will put KBBQ first and tomato pie last because of the foot smell.

Kate: I think my favorite was the KBBQ. Least favorite was definitely Tomato Pie. I'd definitely eat the KBBQ again. I wouldn't go out of my way to buy the other two bags but if the Roast Pork one was in front of me, I wouldn't turn my head away. I will definitely never have the tomato pie chip again.

Our favorite quote about Pennsylvania — or from a Pennsylvanian — this week.

"Well first off, he’s a dog, right? And he can talk ... So, I think that a dog that can talk and helps people by solving mysteries ... is a superhero."

— Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Nick Castellanos defending his rationale after naming Scooby-Doo his all-time favorite superhero

Our favorite reader-submitted photo of the week.

Harrisburg's historic Broad Street Market, seen here in a photo by @yatsko taken before Monday's devastating fire there. A GoFundMe is up for impacted workers, a donation portal is up for the market itself, and the market's Stone Building is still open for business through Saturday.

An aerial shot of Broad Street Market with the iconic market sign visible in a shadow on the street below.
The answer to this week's Pennsylvania-centric trivia question.


From PennLive's (paywalled) report

Salem wasn’t the only place where witch trials happened. Nine years earlier, the founder of the colony of Pennsylvania presided over a witch trial. The results were less horrific, but fascinating in their own right.

The trial involved two women from what is now Delaware County, one a Swedish settler named Margaret Mattson who in 1683 was dubbed the “Witch of Ridley Creek” and accused of "bewitching" animals.

Thanks for reading PA Local. We'll see you back here next week. But first ... send us your feedback. What did you like? What didn't you like? 

Support vital journalism for Pennsylvania. The future of local news is in your hands. Donate now.
Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and WITF Public Media.

Copyright © Spotlight PA / The Philadelphia Inquirer, All rights reserved.

Spotlight PA
PO Box #11728
Harrisburg, PA 17108-1728


You're receiving this email because you subscribed to PA Local.

This email was sent to: <<Email Address>>

Receiving too many emails from Spotlight PA?

To change your newsletter subscriptions and frequency, you can update your preferences.

To stop receiving fundraising messages, you can update your preferences and select "Opt out of Fundraising."

To stop receiving ALL EMAILS from Spotlight PA, including all of our investigations and newsletters, you can completely unsubscribe here.