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Pierogis in the News

Did I miss National Pierogi Day? That's almost as bad as forgetting International Knish Week.

Pierogis in the News

I see that Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, my hometown, just celebrated National Pierogi Day by having its chefs bake up a pierogi so large it set a new Guinness World Record.

Oh, man. Did I miss National Pierogi Day? That’s almost as bad as forgetting International Knish Week.

In any event, those who happen to hail from Pittsburgh know how important this new world record is. Pittsburgh and its historic steel mills—and by extension, much of America—was built on pierogis. The mills are now mostly retail centers, condos and empty lots, but the pierogi soldiers on.

Pierogis are one of the great ethnic foods that Pittsburghers sorely miss when they move away. The word pierogi is Polish, but pierogis are a favorite delicacy brought to the U.S. from across Eastern Europe, including the ancestral home of my wife’s family, Slovakia. They are dumplings filled with spicy mashed potatoes, cheese, ground meat or other assorted fillings.

Ideally, they are then placed in a hot 1930 iron skillet filled with melted butter—although lard is certainly acceptable—and fried, employing the necessary precautions to shield the cook from hot, flying grease.

It’s how my wife’s Aunt Margaret makes them.

I’m not sure that’s how the chefs at Rivers Casino made their record-smashing mutant pierogi, but one day last month, they called in the Guinness people to verify that they had just made the World’s Largest Pierogi, a 123-pound, heart-stopping dumpling filled with cheddar cheese-flavored mashed potatoes. Guinness verified that it easily beat out the former record-holder, a puny 110-pound pierogi.

Heck, I can eat that in one sitting.

They even had to build a special vessel to cook this big dumpling. The result was a blob of baked dough resembling a monument to some alien life form, preserved carefully under glass.

My only problem is the “special vessel” they built to cook it. If they were building it anyway, couldn’t they have made anything they wanted? Like, maybe a giant 1930 iron skillet filled with lard?

My only other question is who got to eat it. I’m guessing high-end slot players, in a buffet they later described as “better’n anything dahntahn, or even in Sahth Side.”

In other news this month, residents of a small town along the New York State Throughway are up in arms about potential plans for a local casino.

Well, up in pitchforks, anyway. The protesters staging demonstrations against a possible casino in the town of Tyre are from the local Amish community.

They are headed by Bishop Daniel Schwartz, who evidently raises corn, cows and chickens across the highway from the potential casino site. He even gave his first interview to a local paper, saying, “Gambling goes against the teaching of the Bible, and the fruits of gambling are all bad.”

The local constabulary, though, really wants the casino, along with the hundreds of permanent jobs that come with it. Local government officials accuse the anti-gaming forces in the local community of using the Amish sort of as human shields for their campaign, since few can argue with new jobs.

No one has asked me, but as usual, I have a solution. First, build a big hotel with the casino, and comp every one of the town’s residents for a stay. There are only 900, so you could do it in one night. Next, offer Bishop Schwartz and the Amish community a piece of the action.

I can see the directional signs in the casino now:

 “Today’s Lessons: Craps, Blackjack, and Butter Churning.”

“Bishop Dan’s Corn, Pig and Chicken Restaurant: Come Early; Milk Your Own Cow.”

“Stop by Jacob’s Barnhouse Buffet. Have thee a lucky day.”

“Blue Shirt and Black Hat Day: Triple Points!”

OK, I’ll stop.

Finally, MGM Resorts International has filed a federal lawsuit over use of its trademark by a company looking to distribute marijuana in a Las Vegas medical dispensary.

No, it’s not the lion. Although that would have been cool. It’s “M life,” the brand of the MGM multi-property player’s club card. The dispensary wants to operate under the name “M’Life Wellness.”

Remarkably, MGM doesn’t want one of its trademarks affiliated with a weed clinic.

MGM wants the weed company to cease and desist. The pot company is fighting to keep the name.

It will be interesting to see how this turns out. What if the weed company just decides to use the name of another casino with which it can be associated? Like, say, the Rivers in Pittsburgh?

Their player’s card is called “Rush Rewards.”

(Please fill in your own joke here. It should contain some reference to eating a giant pierogi.)

Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the books, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and Atlantic City: In Living Color.