Yes, there may be a paucity of Scrantonicity in “Customer Loyalty.” But loyal “Life In The Office” readers know that I don’t let that stop me. At least I haven’t yet. Because I’m loyal, too. I’m loyal to a show that continually teaches me new things as I research it for its “Scranton-istic” content. For instance I just learned about the expression “Fire in the hole.” According to the Urban Dictionary, that is the proper phrase you are supposed to yell at a drive-thru window right before you throw your beverage at the unsuspecting fast food worker, while the nonsense is being videotaped for Youtube upload. Who knew?
Loyal LITO readers know that after every Office episode, I like to scrutinize for “Scrantonicity.” That is, I rewatch the show on the internet, and I closely check out the background for all the local props they decorate the set with. I don’t believe there has ever been a TV show like “The Office,” when it comes to “personalizing” nearly every scene. Some movies have done this, peppering their sets with products indigenous to the locale, and accents and other quirks of local flavor. But not a major network TV show, at least to my knowledge. For me, a Scranton native, that has been the icing on the cake of what I consider to be one of the most innovative, classic TV comedy shows ever. Even an episode like “Customer Loyalty,” which kept most of the local references rather generic.
The first generic reference was when Dwight was buried in the file cabinet, cleaning out the “dead accounts,” and he name-checks the “Scranton Mimeograph Corporation.” Funny, but generic. Later, Pam mentions a mural competition she has entered, for the city’s “Irish-American Cultural Center.” While there is no such center, the Scranton area does have a large population of people of Irish descent. (like my wife’s huge family.) This would somewhat account for the popularity of Scranton’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade, which is one of the largest in the nation, pretty impressive for a city with a population of only 76,089. There are also a large numbers of Irish pubs in the Scranton area. (Of course, almost every ethnic group boasts a large number of pubs in the Scranton area.) Anyway, The Office had tentative plans a few seasons back to film an episode in Scranton during the Saint Patrick’s Day parade, but unfortunately that parade got rained on. Maybe this nod to the fictitious “Irish-American Cultural Center” is their little “tip-of the-derby” to those unfulfilled plans. Another generic Scranton reference would be when Pam was beginning to videotape CeeCee’s Ladybug recital. Her phone screen showed an incoming call from “the city of Scranton mobile.” That was the call informing her of her acceptance in the mural competition, and even though it was generic, it was a nice touch of realism.
I did manage to find a few fresh examples of Scrantonicity at Dunder-Milfflin, besides all the usual suspects on display, like the copious coffee mugs and the ubiquitous bumper stickers. On Oscar’s desk, there was a new local newspaper that I had never seen before: the Diamond City Weekly. According to Wikipedia, The “Diamond City” is the nickname for Wilkes-Barre, Pa, because of all the coal mines around the vicinity, and I guess chunks of hard anthracite coal glisten in the light, like, uh… diamonds. Hmm… I was born and raised in the Scranton area, and have returned constantly over the years, and I never once heard Wilkes-Barre referred to as the “Diamond City.” Maybe that’s just me, and my own faulty radar. I’d love to hear from any citizens of the “Diamond City,” who can set me straight on this sparkling gem of a nickname. Out here in the Seattle area, I live not too far from “Black Diamond, Wa,” another old coal town. So, the connection has been made before. But I never did hear Wilkes-Barre referred to like that.
Another new “Scrantonicity” would be the sighting of a menu on the refrigerator in the break room. It’s probably been posted on that reefer door for quite awhile, but for the first time I got a good enough look to be able to read something on it. I could see their slogan “Quench Your Soul,” which I then ran a Google search on. I found Mama’s Soulfood Restaurant, which from the website appears to be a rather low key enterprise, mostly specializing in catered events. One such catered event would be the Office Convention, held in Scranton way back in late 2007. I’m guessing Andrew Porter, the owner and head chef, impressed some Office staff and cast members with the recipes of his mama’s soul food!
Next we come to the drive-thru joint where Dwight pulled his “Fire in the hole” stunt. At first, the only clue is written on the apron of the clerk in the window. It identifies the place as “Pete’s.” A quick search of the Scranton area turned up two Pete’s; neither one looked promising as the Pete’s. (One, in fact, was a middle eastern restaurant. I would think that would be more aptly named Pita’s.) But further into the scene, the kid’s apron is shown more explicitly, and I could read “Pete’s Blue Chip Burgers.” This drive-in establishment is located on Colorado Boulevard in LA, and is probably an iconic hang-out for struggling Hollywood actors and writers and other show-biz wanna-bes. It’s likely a local “institution,” and showing the name on the aprons was a nice round-about way to get the nuts out there like me to publicize it. Well, there ya go!
Finally, this kind of qualifies as “Scrantonicity,” in a weird way. In the punchline scene of the cold opening, warehouse worker Glenn is shown dunking his doughnut in the long-lost “holy grail” Dunder chalice. On his desk sits a hot pink bakery box. Out here in the Pacific northwest, a lot of folks associate those hot pink boxes with Voodoo Donuts, an eccentric, iconic Portland Oregon bakery. So, I Google-searched “hot pink bakery boxes in Scranton Pa” to see if indeed it was a genuine “Scranton-istic” prop. What I found was this website, I Really Like Food, describing how most east coast bakeries use white boxes, and the hot pink boxes are almost all found on the west coast. You can learn the darndest things while searching for something else. I responded to this bit of arcane trivia just the same way I did when I discovered the current, hip definition of “Fire in the hole;” Who knew? Well, we know now, which is one of the perks of “Customer Loyalty.”