Philadelphia Has A Brotherly Love Affair With Sweats

Data from the consumer research group Experian Marketing Services has determined that Philadelphia leads the country in the per capita consumption of sweatshirts and sweatpants. Robert Siegel and Audie Cornish explore the reasons why — is it the weather, college students, Rocky Balboa?

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now, a few things that may come to mind when you hear the word Philadelphia: Benjamin Franklin.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Independence Hall.

SIEGEL: The Liberty Bell.

CORNISH: Cream cheese.

SIEGEL: Cheese steaks.

CORNISH: And sweat suits.

JOHN FETTO: Philadelphia has the most purchases of sweat apparel items per capita in the last year.

CORNISH: That's John Fetto, senior marketing manager at Experian Marketing Services. It's a consumer research group that measures nationwide what products people buy, what media they consume, what kind of car they drive.

SIEGEL: Sweats. And the people who wear them are among the 60,000 elements Experian tracks. And, according to their latest survey, the good people of Philadelphia have bought more sweatshirts and sweatpants per capita than any other city in the country. Not only that, they've done it for the second year in a row.

(SOUNDBITE OF TELEVISION SHOW, "SEINFELD")

JERRY SEINFELD: (As Jerry) Again, with the sweatpants.

JASON ALEXANDER: (As George) They're comfortable.

SEINFELD: (As Jerry) You know the message you're sending out to the world with these sweatpants? You're telling the world, I give up. I can't compete in normal society. I'm miserable. So, I might as well be comfortable.

CORNISH: Now before you jump to such Seinfeldian conclusions about Philadelphia, John Fetto offers this possible explanation for its brotherly love affair with sweats.

FETTO: If you look at the whole list, what we do see is a lot of cities in the northeast having a high per capita purchases of sweats which makes sense. Obviously it's an environment where people would probably want to bundle up in sweats.

SIEGEL: In addition to the weather, the Philadelphia area hosts no less than 101 colleges and universities. That's hundreds of thousands of students, students who love to wear their school pride on hoodies and sweatshirts.

CORNISH: A perfect sweat storm so to speak.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GONNA FLY NOW")

CORNISH: But we have another theory why Philadelphia is number one when it comes to buying sweats. It's based on a scene from the 1976 movie "Rocky," one that's likely etched into Philly's collective subconscious.

SIEGEL: Sylvester Stallone as the underdog boxer Rocky Balboa trains for the big fight.

CORNISH: He does one-handed pushups.

SIEGEL: He punches slabs of cold beef in a meat locker.

CORNISH: He does more one-handed pushups.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ROCKY")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You're going to kill 'em.

CORNISH: Rocky is pumped. He races along the river then charges up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

SIEGEL: He turns. He overlooks the waking city. Rocky raises his fists high in the air. Victory.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GONNA FLY NOW")

CORNISH: He does all of this in gray sweatpants and a matching sweatshirt.

SIEGEL: Clearly Philly is onto something. Who wouldn't want to feel that way every day?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GONNA FLY NOW")

CORNISH: This is NPR News.

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