Hills Snack Bar Is Where The Foodie Joys Are

The mobile unit pops up at the defunct department store’s old sites to serve nostalgic treats.


Pittsburghers were so hungry for nostalgic snacks, they burned out the ICEE machine on the Hills Snack Bar.

Despite the heat and humidity, hundreds of people stood in Hopewell’s Green Garden Plaza parking lot to feast on soft pretzels, hot dogs, cotton candy and nachos with Day-Glo cheese during the food trailer’s grand opening celebration on July 15. 

Hills5Fact: It’s not junk food when there are fond childhood memories attached to it.

I can distinctly recall slurping down a cherry ICEE while riding a coin-operated horse at Hills. It was my birthday and I had just picked out a new toy; Panthor, Skeletor’s evil feline companion from the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe toy line.

Owner Jason Powell, a fellow ‘80s-kid from Aliquippa, resurrected the beloved department store brand’s concession stand as a mobile unit. He works with companies, including Gold Medal Products Co., that made menu items for Hills in its heyday. 

Powell plans to pop up at former Hills sites throughout the region. 

By the time I got to Green Garden Plaza near closing time, there was still a line stretching across Miller & Son’s Chevrolet parking lot. A hastily scrawled sign alerted new arrivals that the Hills Snack Bar had flatlined for the day. 

The demand for old-school refreshments and commemorative T-shirts was fierce. 

Powell apologized to customers who traveled over the river and through the woods to get a taste of their youth and, like me, introduce their own children to the treats. The poor guy looked like an OG Hills Snack Bar employee after the Christmas Eve rush during The Great Cabbage Patch Kid Shopping Frenzy of 1983.


He’s working out the kinks and promises to dole out more ICEE-induced brain freezes at the new Helltown Brewing taproom in Butler on July 30 from 5 to 8 p.m.

In the meantime, if you want a nostalgic beverage that is also a geographic feature, I recommend sipping a Snake Mountain Hazy IPA at Necromancer Brewing’s revamped taproom. 

It’s what Skeletor would want. 

Categories: Nest