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Hungry For Dessert? Grab Some Cookies at a Pittsburgh Wedding

A tradition I never knew we had in Southwestern PA.

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Hungry For Dessert? Grab Some Cookies at a Pittsburgh Wedding
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About a week ago, I traveled with my Pittsburgh-raised family to be with my cousin, Shanay, as she tied the knot. The afternoon was just like her- beautiful and full of love. I heard the "I Do's," blew bubbles to commemorate the start of her and Justin's life together, raised my glass (of water) to toast the happy couple, and of course, indulged in the array of cookies brought to the reception by the family and friends of the bride and groom.

I've seen my fair share of weddings, as I've worked as a banquet server for nearly a year, so to my knowledge, these were standard events to take part in when celebrating someone's big day or so I thought.

There were approximately 4000 cookies — 50 different kinds — to be shared throughout the evening of Shanay's wedding. Now I know what you're thinking (if you're not from the Pittsburgh area and have never heard of such a thing); "Why was there a huge cookie table at a wedding? Where was the wedding cake?"

I thought it was a rumor when I heard that this sweet tradition originated in southwestern Pennsylvania, so I did some research.

The tradition began during the Industrial and Depression eras when poor European and Italian immigrants settled in the Pittsburgh area. Wedding cakes were often expensive, so they did what they could to make the weddings that they celebrated as lavish as possible- they baked. Over time wedding cakes were implemented back into Pittsburgh weddings, but the city where this cookie tradition originated never lost sight of its cookie-loving heritage.

Cookies have always been important to my large, Italian family. At every occasion, there's a table dedicated to the dessert and walking out with a plate full of cookies like pizzelles, thumbprints and snickerdoodles for the ride home is always a must; walking out empty handed just isn't an option when your Aunt Dee has a plate wrapped up for you at the door!

So, one week later, I'm snacking on the leftover cookies from Shanay's wedding. Not only does learning about a tradition that originated in my backyard add sprinkles of (pun intended) character to my family and how we celebrate something special, but it also gives me an excuse to grab another cookie: "it's tradition!"

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