By Rocco Golden
At a glance, the Town of Plattsburgh may come off to the average person as just another town in Northern New York. Many people don’t really know all too much about the history and the culture of the town. Some may say the history of this region is bland or there’s nothing to it. The truth is that the North Country has a rich history, just as much as other regions around the country.
When it comes to Plattsburgh, what many people don’t know is that this town is a staple of an iconic food in the life of an average American: Michigan. The Michigan, in a nutshell, is a hotdog with a chili sauce on top. Depending on where you are in the region, the food itself can differ quite a lot.
It’s a diverse meal. Many restaurants have their own take on the dish with differing sauces, hot dogs and toppings. The versatility of the Michigan is one the many reasons why it became a staple in the North Country. Being able to have one meal that can be interpreted in several different ways is great conditions for creating an icon of the region, which is exactly what has happened over the decades since its origin.
A Michigan with onions and some cheese is hard to beat, especially on a summer day. If you aren’t from around the area, it may be hard to understand, but for those who are, they can definitely relate.
“I think Michigans are THE staple of the North Country,” Alex Brienza, an alumnus of SUNY Plattsburgh said.
It’s no doubt the Michigan is one of Plattsburgh’s most iconic foods. Many people here are fond of it. It has, and will continue to be, an iconic food of this region.
One can’t mention the North Country without mentioning Stewart’s Shops. Everyone in this area knows about Stewart’s. Put simply, it’s one of the best chains of convenience stores. Since its beginnings in the mid-20th century, Stewart’s has opened hundreds of locations, and has been serving the North Country some of the most recognizable delicacies of our time.
Stewart’s has also gotten some much appreciated national recognition. According to an article by New York Upstate, an online news outlet, Stewart’s won big in the recent World Dairy Expo’s 2022 Championship Dairy Product Contest. Stewart’s won four awards, one first place, one second place and two third place awards. Stewart’s is also known to have the best milk in New York State.
Peanut Butter Pandemonium won first place for the peanut butter ice cream category. It’s really no surprise. Stewart’s has some of the best ice cream around. There is a distinguished cast of flavors, suiting anyone’s requests and desires. One of the best features is the flavors of the week. Each week a few flavors are given discounts, which is great if one of your favorites is featured.
“It’s a good store, I like their ice cream. I think they’re a benefit to the community of Plattsburgh,” Salvatore D’Aurio, an accounting major said.
Not only is Stewart’s a staple to Plattsburgh, it’s sacred to most, if not all, of the Northeast corner of New York, and many other regions as well.
Another cultural staple in the North Country, and arguably the most important, is Lake Champlain.
Lake Champlain’s history with regards to the United States goes back hundreds of years.
The Battle of Plattsburgh, a major battle in the War of 1812, was fought on Lake Champlain. Historically, it has been an important route between Canada and New York. It’s also been, and still is, a popular destination for fishing.
People from all over the country come up North for fishing tournaments during the summer. Ice fishing during the winter is also popular, with most parts of the lake freezing over during the cold months.
Nearly everyone in and around Plattsburgh is involved with the lake in some way, whether it be sailing, going to the beach, fishing or hunting. There’s pretty much something for everyone. The lake’s historical and cultural significance is not something to look past.
“I would say that Lake Champlain is significant not only just to Plattsburgh, but for the whole North Country region and to the United States of America. It provides a water route for trade from Canada and from the Hudson river through the Champlain Canal,” said Michael Casey, the SUNY Student Assembly Vice President. “Lake Champlain is a great place to go. There’s some good fishing and some good boating opportunities. It’s really important to the North Country, it provides an opportunity for people to go out and have some time for recreation on the Lake.”
Lake Champlain is an amazing place to go to year round. The various parks on the New York side are great places to go to during the summer. Being on the lake during the summer is something everyone should try to do. It’s really quite the experience.
The North County, put simply, is a great place to be. There’s always a plethora of great activities to do, great food to eat and great sights to see. There’s really no other region in the country like it. The uniqueness is part of why it’s such a substantial area.