Scrantonicity ~ “Welcome Party”

Friday, April 13, 2012

Welcome to your new home, Nellie Bertram. As Robert California says at the beginning of the episode, ”Let’s show her some of that warm Scranton hospitality.” Well, Nellie, we’ll pretend that you didn’t list those nasty first impressions of your new “city” in the latest Dunder-Mifflin newsletter.  For instance, you “laughing” at the local ski resort, because the slopes are barely 1,000 feet in elevation. (That would be Snö Mountain in Moosic Pa, and no, I never get tired of typing that umlaut.) Or your description of the local Steamtown National Historic railroad train site as a bunch of “decaying locomotives.” (A wooden souvenir Steamtown train whistle sits on the filing cabinet in accounting. I don’t suspect Nellie will be blowing it anytime soon.) And we won’t even mention the fact that you described your new location as a “dreadful, backwater, God-knows-where, suburb of a suburb.” OK then… let’s get this party started. Because as Michael Scott would surely say if he was still around: “Ain’t no welcome party like a Scranton welcome party”… 


I would have really loved it if Nellie had dropped a proper name of her “dreadful, backwater” suburb of Scranton. I suppose I can see why the show elected not to immortalize any particular town in this light, but it still would have been edgy fun. They’ve mentioned my hometown of Dunmore several times, and places like Dickson City and Carbondale have gotten shout-outs over the years. Taking into account the fact that the Nellie Bertram character is a clueless, obnoxious boor, her “insult” could be seen as frivolous and unworthy of serious consideration. So I would think that any number of Scranton suburbs would be honored to be Nellie’s new home. I hope one of the surrounding communities steps up and claims her! What do ya say, Olyphant? Archbald? Jessup?


Nellie laments that there seems to be a lot of “Irish people” living in her area. There is some truth to that, historically speaking, and I suppose the Office writers took that into consideration. When I was growing up in northeastern Pennsylvania, there were sections of town that had large ethnic concentrations, mostly Italian and Irish. As time goes on, those homogenous enclaves tend to thin out as folks marry outside their ethnic  groups and new people move in. I’m sure it is not much of a factor anymore these days. Anyway, “Nellie” is playing the character of an odious twit Brit to the max, so of course she would be contemptuous of anyone with an Irish last name. Two of the more popular annual celebrations in the Scranton area would be the Saint Patrick’s Day parade, and the Saint Ubaldo Day Race. (One involving an Irish Saint, one involving an Italian Saint, and both of the celebrations involving alcoholic beverages; in moderation, of course.) 😉


Andy and Erin turn up in the middle of an epic road trip from Tallahassee, Florida back to Scranton. In an early scene, they are shown by the side of the road, having a roadside snack. Since they are both wearing souvenir Savannah, Georgia T-shirts, it is safe to say that their pit stop is taking place there in Savannah or just somewhat north. They are at a picnic table, eating Herr’s Kettle Chips and drinking from soda cans that I don’t recognize. The labels on the soda are partially hidden, but the gold cans with the diagonal color patterns are distinctive, and probably a local house-brand. I googled “supermarkets in Savannah,” and the dominant store in town is “Piggly-Wiggly.” So that soda might be Piggly-Wiggly pop. It would be nice if anyone reading this could confirm that, or otherwise identify the mystery soda. By the way, “Piggly-Wiggly,” founded in Memphis, Tennessee, is the first self-service grocery store in the US of A, and a treasured icon of the south. I’ve never been in one, but I love the logo of a pert ‘n perky porker with a jaunty paper hat. As their website says “I dig Mr. Pig.” 😆


I’m pleased to report that the background scenery out the car window looks very east coast-y, and not Californ-ee-ish. There is not a palm tree or a barren scrub-brush hillside to be seen, which is comforting. And the woods surrounding the bachelorette-party cabin look appropriately Pennsylvania-like. Unfortunately, the writers chose to only identify the cabin’s location as “southern Pennsylvania.” It would have been more fun to have named a real place like Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Resort in Lancaster County, Pa, instead of going so generic. Well, more fun for me, anyway.


When Jim and Dwight are moving Nellie’s belongings into her new apartment, I saw a label on a box marked “Archfield Moving Company.” I googled that name, thinking it might be an actual business from Tallahassee. Imagine my surprise when I found that it is a real moving company, but from Woolwich, South East London, England. That is so cool, that the prop department cares that much. Jim and Dwight find a shoebox, marked “Nellie, don’t open, stupid.” On the side of the shoebox is a label identifying the brand of the shoes, which are Clark’s Artisans. I thought I’d throw that in for those of you who are into ladies’ footwear.


Finally, Jim and Pam are leaving Dunder-Mifflin for the day, and they confront crack security guard Hank at his “office/snack bar counter.” Hank is so engrossed in his “World View” magazine, that he didn’t notice the magician coming or going. His other choices of reading materials include “Global Intelligence,” and “Trucker’s Monthly.” Behind Hank is a display of old-time-y coffee cans, including “Hills Brothers,” “Maxwell House,” “Folgers,” and “Surefine.” “Surefine” is a house brand sold locally in Gerrity’s Supermarkets. Also visible is a sticker for radio station KRZ, 98.5. I visited the radio station’s website to see what song was playing at that exact moment; so I leave you with Lou Bega, crooning “Mambo #5.” (In a “Hot Girl” deleted scene, Jim informed Pam that Michael Scott’s ring tone was “Mambo #5.”  Also, today, Friday the 13th of April, happens to be Lou Bega’s 37th birthday, which is, of course, apropos of nothing.) :)


~ Bob



  1. Donna says:

    Wow, Bob! I love it all, but especially that last paragraph. It reminded me of VH1’s “pop-up video”, how they would um, “pop-up” (duh) little thought bubbles with behind the scenes stuff. You’re Mambo #2 info had that same appeal. Waaayyy back to “Hot Girl” even! Love it :)

  2. Donna says:

    I agree that it’s cool the prop department took the time to pick a moving company from Nellie’s home country. I just wish the casting department would have taken the same time before they cast Nellie in the first place. In fact, I’ll back up and wish that the writers had taken the same time before they wrote the role of Nellie. *sigh* So, I guess it’s kudos to the props dept 😉

  3. Bob says:

    Thanks, Donna! There is something about the catchy beat and the cheesy lyrics of “Mambo #5″ that just SCREAMS “Michael Scott.” (He’s a former Office character, for those that don’t know.) 😉

  4. Bob says:

    In a recently posted “Welcome Party” deleted scene, Nellie notices pizza at her Dunder-Mifflin wing-ding. Oscar sadly admits that the pizza is from “Have A Slice,” NOT “Il Vitello.” Neither are real Scranton businesses. “Il Vitello” is an Italian restaurant in Studio City, California, and is probably a “shout-out” from one of the writers.

    According to the Urban Dictionary, “Have A Slice” is NOT a real pizzeria, but instead a euphemistic slang phrase popular in southern California. 😯

  5. kevin says:

    Great Scrantonicity, as usual Bob. But my biggest laugh was Donna’s dis of Nellie in her comments. Don’t care much for the character, huh D?

  6. Suri says:

    I’m glad you finally have an episode you can really sink your teeth into Bob. You certainly didn’t leave much meat on the bone. (that’s a compliment, in case you couldn’t figure that one out).

    So I looked up S4, Launch Party on The Office (excellent memory jogger, BTW) and it said the two pizza places that the office workers were debating about were Alfredo’s Pizza Cafe and Pizza by Alfredo. Not sure if either was a real place (I think one might have been); but it would have been a nice throw back or at least they would have gotten an A+ for consistency if they had named these two places again in that deleted scene. I seem to remember Oscar being a propellent of the argument back then as well.
    Also, it wouldn’t have seemed so crass to Southern Californian’s (and to me, since thanks to your link, I now know what it means.)

    Sorry it’s taken me so long to read and comment, but ya done good as usual. :)

  7. Bob says:

    Thanks, Kevin and Suri! I appreciate the kind words, even the ones I have to REALLY think about! 😉

    Alfredo’s Pizza Kitchen is the real deal in Scranton. I remember them using the similar-but-phony “Pizza by Alfredo,” which Kevin Malone called a “hot circle of garbage.” 😆 Wow, it has GOT to be BAD if Kevin Malone rejects it!

    Yeah, that would have been consistent and cool for the writers to have referenced a pizza joint from an older episode. I hope that kind of referential-linking-thinking hasn’t gone totally by the wayside.

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