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Pop Culture Highlights, Iconic Real People & Fun Facts

 

Is Scranton a Real Place?

Scranton, the largest city in Lackawanna County, boasts a rich history and has played a significant role in the building of our country. Known as the "Electric City" for being one of the first in the nation to have a successful electric streetcar system, Scranton was a bustling hub of industry and innovation in the early 1900s. Despite its pivotal contributions to the Industrial Revolution, Scranton is now best known nationally as the home of Dunder Mifflin from NBC's hit show, The Office. Many fans of the show are often surprised to learn that Scranton is a REAL PLACE and not a fictional town. 

 

To emphasize its authenticity, the "Scranton is Real" campaign highlights the city's genuine charm and historical significance. While the iconic television show is the most notable pop culture reference, Scranton has long been featured in various forms of media, underscoring its authentic charm and appeal. These fictional portrayals are fun and serve as valuable marketing tools for our community. Yet, Scranton, Lackawanna County, and its residents have had a far more significant impact beyond pop culture. Explore our list below of notable pop-culture references and the real people and real achievements that have shaped our city and country.

 

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Pop-Culture References

 

The Office

The hilarious NBC mockumentary-style TV series and cultural phenomenon centered around the fictitious Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch made real-life references to locations within the city and made famous what locals and visitors have always known: There really "ain't no party like a Scranton party, 'cause a Scranton party don't stop!" Take The Office Self-Guided Walking Tour!

Brian Baumgartner (aka Kevin from The Office tv show) holding The Office Self-Guided Tour map
Brian Baumgartner / Kevin Malone / Ashton Kutcher

 

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

HBO's comedic current events show and its host, John Oliver, had some fun highlighting Scranton and our local WNEP 16 News viewers' infatuation with the weather department's backyard train set. A friendly back-and-forth between the show and our community ensued, resulting in the show building and gifting to Scranton "an almost irresponsibly large train set" filled with Scranton's landmarks. The incredible and very real train set is now on display at the Electric City Trolley Museum for all to enjoy.

John Oliver standing in front of the Scranton train set.

 

Dave Portnoy's One Bite Pizza Review

The founder of Barstool Sports and dog adopter of the beloved Famous Miss Peaches, Dave Portnoy, has done his famous pizza reviews at over 1,000 locations in the United States. Nine of those reviews took place during two different visits to Lackawanna County, including three in Scranton. "One bite; everybody knows the rules!"

Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports doing a Pizza Review in Old Forge, PA
Photo: One Bite Pizza Reviews

 

Home Alone

Since the movie's debut in 1996, millions of viewers have laughed till they cried watching a young Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) protect his house from a pair of bungling burglars as his mother tries to get home to her son. Her desperate efforts bring her to a fictionalized version of the real Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport

 

That Championship Season

The Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning 1972 play, as well as the 1982 film, are set in Scranton. Scenes for the movie were filmed in Scranton, and Scranton resident Jason Miller wrote both the play and adaptation, along with directing the movie. The film's score featured the West Scranton High School band. Some of the notable shooting locations included Nay Aug Park and the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad Station (now the Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel Scranton).

Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel

 

Ted Lasso

Coach Ted Lasso mentions Scranton when he mistakes the British version of The Office for the American remake after Jamie Higgins, Director of Football Operations for AFC Richmond, states that Zava, a world-class striker, wants to play and live in England because his wife binge-watched the show.

 

Kingpin

As the hysterical 1996 comedy begins, we learn that the movie's main character, bowler Roy Munson (Woody Harrelson), lives in Scranton.

 

30,000 Pounds of Bananas

The 1974 Harry Chapin song depicts a fictional version of a real 1965 truck accident that resulted in the flipping of a 35-foot semi-trailer filled with bananas. Its load of bananas spilled onto Moosic Street in Scranton.

 

Famous People from Scranton and Lackawanna County

 

Adam Rippon

This Lackawanna County Native won an Olympic bronze medal in ice skating and Season 26 of the Dancing with the Stars television show.

Adam Rippon (Getty Images)
Photo by Jamie Squire / Getty Images

 

Gertrude Hawk Jones

Candy maker and entrepreneur who started the Gertrude Hawk Chocolates company out of her home in Scranton.

Gertrude Hawk Chocolates in Throop, PA

 

Jason Miller

Scranton native Jason Miller was a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright best known for his roles in The Exorcist and Rudy.

Jason Miller Bust

 

Motionless In White

Scranton metal band has released six albums, three of which reached #1 on Billboard's Top Hard Rock Albums Chart.

Motionless in White
Photo by The Pavilion at Montage Mountain

 

The Menzingers

This punk rock band from Scranton released seven albums and has toured internationally, including in North America, Europe, and Australia.

The Menzingers
Photo: The Menzingers FB page

Justin Roach

The self-taught Scranton-based illustrator and graphic designer has created multiple major album covers and artistic projects for legendary hip-hop artist Snoop Dogg and worked with stars like Salt N’ Pepa, The Game, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and renowned sports and radio personalities. Check out his work!

Justin Roach holding Snoop Dogg album covers that he designed

 

  • ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON – an American industrialist from Lackawanna County who is a co-founder of Johnson & Johnson.

 

  • PAUL WILLIAM RICHARDS – American astronaut from Lackawanna County who served as Mission Specialist 2 aboard the STS-102 Discovery on its mission to the International Space Station.

 

  • ALEX GRASS – Scranton native and founder of Rite Aid. His first store was opened in 1962 right in Downtown Scranton.

 

  • MIKE MUNCHAK – An NFL Hall of Fame offensive lineman for the Houston Oilers (now Tennessee Titans). Munchak, a Scranton native and graduate of Scranton High School, made nine Pro Bowls as a player before his extensive coaching career in the NFL, including a stint as the Head Coach of the Tennessee Titans, the franchise that originally drafted him in the first round of the 1982 NFL Draft.

 

  • TERRENCE PEGULA – Lackawanna County native and billionaire owner of the Buffalo Bills of the NFL and the Buffalo Sabres of the NHL

 

  • LAURA WEISBERGER – The author of the 2003 bestselling book The Devil Wears Prada was born in Scranton.

 

  • STEPHEN KARAM – Scranton native Karam is a playwright, screenwriter, and director best known for his play The Humans, which landed him six nominations in the 2016 Tony Awards, winning four awards for Best Play, Best Featured Actor in a Play, Best Featured Actress in a Play, and Best Scenic Design in a Play

 

  • FRED TALLAKSEN – Four-time Emmy-nominated choreographer whose work has been seen on stages and screens worldwide for over twenty years. Notably, Scranton native Tallaksen has worked one-on-one and coached celebrities, including Madonna, Bad Bunny, Ben Stiller, and many more.

 

  • BRIAN STANN – A Scranton native, decorated marine, and mixed martial arts fighter, Stann was awarded the Silver Star for his valor in combat in Iraq. He won the WEC Light Heavyweight Championship before fighting in the UFC.

 

  • GINO MERLI – Born in Scranton and a lifelong Lackawanna County resident, Sergeant Gino Merli, a PFC at the time, was the recipient of the Medal of Honor, two Purple Hearts, and the Bronze Star for his courage and valor during World War II.

 

  • JOSEPH SARNOSKI – Lackawanna County native, 2nd Lieutenant Joseph Sarnoski received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroic actions as a nose gunner on a B-17 Mission during World War II.

 

 


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