Eat'n Park cookies a tribute to Pittsburgh Dad show's success
By Eric Heyl
Published: Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, 11:18 p.m.
Andrew Carnegie and Andy Warhol never had their faces etched in frosting on an Eat'n Park Smiley Cookie.
The distinction eluded famous Pittsburgh personalities such as polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk, Hollywood superstar Michael Keaton, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson and legendary Steelers defensive lineman Mean Joe Greene. (His chances might have been handicapped by his on-the-field disposition, which seldom involved smiling.)
No individual's face has appeared on the signature edible of the venerable Western Pennsylvania restaurant chain. That finally changed on Tuesday, when Eat'n Park revealed the initial batches of Pittsburgh Dad Smiley Cookies to help aid Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
“This is the first time we have created a Smiley Cookie specifically in the image of a Pittsburgh icon,” Eat'n Park's Becky McArdle said. “It's a monumental day.”
In the unlikely event you're a local who hasn't heard of Pittsburgh Dad, the quintessentially yinzer fictional character has his own Web series. The episodes are a joint effort of actor Curt Wootton, 34, of Greensburg and director Chris Preksta, 32, a Munhall native.
When the online sitcom debuted in October 2011, neither of them envisioned their low-budget offerings would garner more than 13 million YouTube views in two years. Neither thought the merchandising options for the character would one day include DVDs, posters and nearly four dozen T-shirt varieties available on the pghdad.com website.
Nor did the duo anticipate Full Pint Brewing Co. in North Versailles introducing a Pittsburgh Dad beer. To promote its debut in July, they made a video in which Wootton rhetorically asked, “Is it a craft beer? If yinz want crafts, go down to the church fair with your grandma.”
They didn't expect Pittsburgh Dad to be as wildly popular as he has become. As Preksta put it, “Every step of the way has been shocking.”
That would include the Smiley Cookies, an idea that originated in discussions Wootton and Preksta recently had with Eat'n Park officials.
“We didn't set out to get a Pittsburgh Dad Smiley Cookie made,” Wootton said. “We just knew we wanted to eventually do a Pittsburgh Dad episode in a restaurant, and there's really no better place to do that in Pittsburgh than an Eat'n Park.”
All of the proceeds from the sale of the limited-edition cookies will benefit Children's Hospital through Eat'n Park's Caring for Kids Campaign. The cookies can't be purchased in Eat'n Park restaurants but are available online at smileycookie.com.
What's next for Pittsburgh Dad? About the only certainty is that Wootton and Preksta won't stop producing new episodes anytime soon.
“The show really seems to have become a part of Pittsburgh lore,” Wootton said. “The support it's received has been fantastic.”
Or as the dad himself might put it, yinz seem like yinz like it.
Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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