After a fun visit to the Midtown Scholar bookstore in Harrisburg, my friend Ellen and I headed across the street to the Broad Street Market: a historic brick building with dozens of vendors selling all sorts of local foods, from fresh produce to sweets to the unforgettable whoopie pies.
From the market’s History page: “At its peak in the 1920s, the Broad Street Market had over 725 vendors, many of whom leased outdoor space and waited years for an indoor stall to become available. John N. Kinnard, the Market Master of that era, noted that one small farmer might sell just a few dozen eggs while another “sold more than $2,000 worth of live turkeys in one day.”
The Broad Street Market back then was known as the “Dutch Fair” because of the predominance of Amish and Mennonite vendors. Nevertheless, Kinnard claimed it also could have been called the “Congress of Nations” in view of the ethnic diversity, which then included “Germans, Austrians, Italians, Russian Jews, Hungarians and full-blood native-born Americans.”
The Market was and remains today as a community gathering place.
This is the perfect spot, if you’re looking for some great food local to the south central Pennsylvania region. I’m so glad we stopped in, because otherwise my foodie experience of Harrisburg would have been based on the countless breweries and other meat-focused eateries along 2nd Street (plus the wonderful food at City House, of course). Here, I encountered some foods I’ve never seen before, like potato candy (!!), and ate the best whoopie pies in the world (I’m sure of it; I’ve tasted them all).
Oh, those whoopie pies are a thing of beauty. We bought a mocha whoopie fie and an oatmeal cream whoopie pie. They were so full of flavor: you could taste the spices and the richness of the chocolate. They were such a bargain, too!
And because I was on a mini vacation and insisted on trying the best of Pennsylvania Dutch baking, the next course is my dessert lunch was a giant, salted pretzel. It was buttery, warm, and chewy with the slightest crisp on the edges. Heavenly.
You can, of course, also eat a proper lunch at the Broad Street Market: deli, barbecue, kabobs, and more. The market is located three blocks from the Capital Complex and is open from 7 AM to 5 PM on Thursdays and Fridays, and 7 AM to 4 PM on Saturdays. Be sure to stop by if you’re ever in Harrisburg!
The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard. –Joel Salatin