Editor's Letter is an introduction to the contents and themes of each issue of Pennsylvania Heritage by the editor.

The annual themes adopted by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) give citizens of this great Commonwealth ample opportunity to explore the rich history, culture, and heritage that truly hallmark Pennsylvania as the keystone of a nation. PHMC’s annual theme for 2012, “The Land of Penn and Plenty: Bringing History to the Table” has allowed Pennsylvania Heritage to examine – and, in many cases – showcase enduring traditions that literally flavor our understanding and appreciation of the past.

The feature articles and many of our regular departments appearing in this exciting edition are devoted to this year’s theme. PHMC colleague Sarah Buffington, curator at Old Economy Village in Ambridge, Beaver County, chronicles the history of winemaking by members of the Harmony Society in the nineteenth century. The Harmonists planted vines at Economy and turned out a number of varieties, which Johann George Rapp, Society founder, served to distinguished guests. Visitors to Old Economy Village can see the wine cellar beneath the village’s Mechanics Building, capable of holding thirty thousand gallons of the beverage.

Fred J. Lauver, former assistant magazine editor and previous contributor, returns with his appetizing article entitled “Sampling a Taste of the Past Along the Pennsylvania Trails of History.” Fred’s article not only contains an overview of selected historic sites and museums along PHMC’s popular Trails, but includes dates and descriptions of theme-related activities and events, in addition to recipes reflecting regional cuisine and historic foodways. Throughout the summer and well into autumn, destinations along our Trails are conducting programs specifically designed to celebrate PHMC’s theme.

In “Snackin’ – Pennsylvania Style,” contributor Kyle R. Weaver takes us on a whirlwind tour of snack food manufacturers whose popular products have become household words. The Keystone State is home to many makers of a seemingly boundless variety of snacks, and Kyle focuses on three major kinds: pretzels, potato chips, and candy. Readers might just be surprised by the history of pretzel baking, which traces its beginnings in the Commonwealth to the mid-nineteenth century. In fact, the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Company in Lititz, Lancaster County, has justifiably earned the reputation as the first commercial pretzel bakery in America.

“The Land of Penn and Plenty: Bringing History to the Table” isn’t just about food and foodways. In this issue, you’ll also discover documents, books, and buildings related to our theme. Wish You Were Here! features a vintage postcard bearing a photograph entitled Hatching Room at the Pennsylvania State Fish Hatchery at Tionesta. Bookshelf discusses the newly published Mrs. Goodfellow: The Story of America’s First Cooking School, which chronicles the founding and early years of a savvy widow’s culinary academy in early nineteenth-century Philadelphia. And Marking Time celebrates the stunning restoration of the Hotel Fauchére in Milford, Pike County, a destination for preservationists and epicureans alike.

Bringing you each edition of Pennsylvania Heritage demands the talents and creativity not only of the magazine staff and contributors, but also of PHMC colleagues. I am especially indebted to Joshua Stahlman, archivist with the Pennsylvania State Archives, and Bonnie J. Inscore, the Pennsylvania Heritage Society’s membership coordinator. During the editorial process, Josh and Bonnie painstakingly read the magazine from cover to cover to ensure our features and departments are well written, clear, and meaningful. Both deserve our tremendous thanks.

I hope you and your family enjoy this edition of Pennsylvania Heritage and visit PHMC’s historic sites and museums to sample a taste of the past!

Bon Appétit!

Michael J. O’Malley III