Only in York County

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A look back at fry-day

You might remember that back in February, I asked where you like to get your fastnachts.

Well, in a Weekly Record feature that just ran this week, we asked people to share their fastnacht recipes. Ohhh do I wish I could bake! They sounded so great.

There’s one part of that story that’s SO “only in York County” that I have to share it here.

This is written by local correspondent (and good friend of mine) Barb Krebs.

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The following story is from Louise Coffman of Windsor Township, in response to my request for stories about fastnachts in the March “From the Kitchen” feature.

Coffman was born and raised in California, where she “met this sailor from West York.”

She married her sailor, Dean Coffman, and agreed to move to Pennsylvania, with the idea that they would someday return to California.

“It’s 64 years later and I’m still here,” she said.

Stewartstown Senior Center bakers take a break while their ‘assembly line’ catches up during fastnacht baking in February at Stewartstown United Methodist Church in this photo by Paul Kuehnel.

Moving here “was a culture shock,” Coffman said.

Fastnachts were a part of that culture shock. She had never heard of them before; she gave them a try and was not impressed.

“They are heavy and stay in your stomach for long time. I am not a fan of them,” she said.

Another part of the culture shock was getting used to the way York Countians speak, the way we can twist our words and throw in a Pennsylvania Dutch word or two. It’s all part of living in this region, and those of us who are natives are used to it; but newcomers are often confused by the local “dialect.”

“It took me a while to figure out what people were saying, and people who were not raised in this area often got together to tell stories of things people said,” Coffman said.

Coffman shared the following story about a woman who moved here from Ohio:

It was probably on or around Fastnacht Day when someone from a local organization, maybe a fire company or a church, knocked on the woman’s door.

When she answered the door, the person asked, “Youse want a tutt of fastnachts?”

The woman was completely baffled, but most locals would have understood that the person was asking her if she wanted to buy a bag of fastnachts. I can remember my grandmother often referred to a bag as a tutt, and when I visited her she would “fix a tutt of candy” for me to take home.

One more note of interest to this story: I had no idea how to spell tutt. My first thought was to guess at the spelling and tell the reader that the word rhymes with put or foot, but certainly there was a better way.

My husband, Ken, stopped at the local bank, where he asked our friend Ruth Ann Baer. She was not sure and asked Edith Beard, who was standing nearby. Beard said she was “pretty sure” it was spelled “tutt.” The final confirmation came a day or two later, after Beard checked with the folks at the Amish Market in Shrewsbury Township who confirmed that “tutt” is the correct spelling.

Another advantage of life in a small town. You can almost always find someone who knows the answer to your question.


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Couldn’t have said THAT better myself! Only in York County…

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