Whenever I tell someone that I’m from Scranton, Pa., nine times out of ten the first response is, “Oh my god! Like ‘The Office’?!” Which is usually followed by a question about whether or not Dunder Mifflin is actually real place. Sorry to say, it is not. Actually, there are a lot of things about Scranton in “The Office” that differ from Scranton in real life. The main difference is that many of the characters actually pronounce the city’s name “Scranton.” It’s Scran’n. We are a city that says “Hayna” and does things “Two tree” times, and if you’re pronouncing the entire word, then you clearly aren’t from Scran’n.
“There ain’t no party like a Scranton party, ’cause a Scranton party don’t stop.”
Well, depending on who you ask. Yes, Scranton was awarded the #1 Most Hungover City in America in 2014 by Business Insider, but experts have actually declared the Scranton area to be the most unhappy county in the country. This could be because of a long history of corruption within the local government, or the city’s current state of bankruptcy, but North Eastern Pennsylvania citizens have been reported to be the most likely to say they are unsatisfied with their lives.
I wouldn’t completely trust the experts, though; we do have a lot of things going for us. We have an a few historical sites, like the Lakawana County Coal Mine and Electric City Trolley Musuem and dozens of cute coffee shops and boutiques. The University of Scranton was ranked among the top eight friendliest schools in the country by the Huffington Post in 2011, and the city has a long tradition of hosting widely popular cultural celebrations like La Festiva Itaniana and the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, which is the sixth largest Saint Patrick’s Day celebration in the country and basically the day Scrantonians lives for every year.
Every time the characters actually leave the office, it opens room for local inaccuracies. Michael loves to go to Chili’s, which he claims is just around the corner from the building, although, unfortunately, the closest Chili’s Restaurant is in Wilkes Barre, which is 22 minutes away.
Still, that is closer to reality than Michael’s trip to Hooters, which would take him over two hours to get to the nearest location.
Even though these may not be entirely accurate, they do throw in some local color from time to time. Poor Richard’s Pub, Cooper’s Seafood and Alfredo’s Pizza Cafe really exist (Pizza by Alfredo’s, however, is fictional. Good thing to, because I’ve heard that their pizza tastes like a ‘hot circle of garbage), and local venders like Gerrity’s Grocery Store and Gertrude Hawk Chocolates, which was founded in Scranton, make small cameos from time to time.
If you have the opportunity, buy a box of Gertrude Hawk Smidgens. Seriously.
So if you ever visit Scranton, make sure to eat at one of our great restaurants, like Posh on North Washington Ave, or Nina’s Wings in Dunmore (or find their food truck the “Bite-mobile” parked somewhere around the city and order a pound of wing bites. Trust me).
Outside The Office
Other outings like those to the Steamtown mall and Lake Scranton are also deceptive.
Anyone from Scranton can immediately tell that the Steamtown mall scene is the “Women’s Appreciation” episode was not actually filmed in the real Steamtown mall. The big giveaways for us are the giant water fountain and massive crowds of people. Unfortunately, our mall is currently on the decline and stores are in the process of moving out, rendering it practically empty most days. However, for a while we did try to capitalize on “The Office” franchise with kiosks and decorations devoted to the show. The “Scranton Welcomes You” sign from the opening credits can even be found on the second floor.
“Beach Games” in Season 3 is easily one of my favorite episodes, but I remember when it aired and everyone just laughed because the portrayal was so difference than it is in real life.
1. There is no sand at Lake Scranton, it is surrounded by a three-mile running path
2. You can go swimming in Lake Scranton, but I really wouldn’t suggest it. Seriously, that’s weird.
Lake Scranton may be different in real life, but it is still a beautiful place.
So we’ve established that Scranton is a real place and Dunder Mifflin is not, but what about Schrute Farms? If you Google the phrase “Is Schrute Farms real?” the first link to pop up is Trip Advisor, which states that the farm is located in Honesdale, Pa., (which is about 40 minutes outside of Scranton). On the site are dozens of user reviews, the most recent of which was posted two weeks ago exclaiming, “What a wonderful experience, as before this I had never really appreciated the comprehensive, vast, and differential flavors that beets had to offer a meal. The Service was really good. The staff were very helpful and friendly.” Don’t be fooled, despite the many Agrotourism reviews, Schute Farms is, in fact, not a real place. The closest beet farm to Scranton is actually an hour away in Saylorsville, Pa.
One of the final differences between Scranton in “The Office” versus real life is Kevin Malone. In the show, Kevin is the big, lovable goofy accountant who can’t figure out numbers unless they are related to food.
But Scranton has its own Kevin Malone. He graduated from Abington Heights High School in 2014 and is currently a freshman at Temple University. He, like “The Office”‘s Kevin Malone, is a lovable and extremely well-liked boy, but unlike his television counterpart, he is extremely bright and perfectly capable of handling math without needing to relate it to pie. Yes, he understands how weird this coincidence is. Yes, he embraces it.
So if there are any dedicated fans of “The Office” out there who are contemplating visiting the great city of Scranton, Pa., please do not ask anyone where the Dunder Mifflin Office building is. Odds are we will give you fake directions and you will be left wandering the city for a few hours before you give up and head to Poor Richard’s Pub instead.