There are a lot of people that think Pawnee is based off of real cities of Indiana. In the TV show, the city is said to be located about 95 miles south of Indianapolis and 120 miles southeast of Terre Haute with a combined population of 80,000 people. The map of Pawnee is actually a map of Muncie, but turned upside down and flipped. The show even modeled Pawnee’s city government after that of Muncie and Bloomington, IN.
In Parks and Recreation, Pawnee has a city slogan of “First in Friendship, Fourth in Obesity”. Fourth in obesity as in the entire country. One of the local factories employs one-third of the city, the Sweetums Candy Factory. The most popular restaurant in Pawnee is Paunch Burger. In the “Soda Tax” episode, they introduced a 512-ounce drink called “child size” because it was roughly the size of a liquified child.
There may not be 512-ounce sodas in Muncie, but the two communities do have some things in common. This is not the first time Muncie has been modeled as a typical midwestern town. It was featured in sociological studies, in movies, cartoons, and other pop culture.
Jerry/Larry/Garry Gergich, a character on the show, loves his favorite vacation spot…Muncie, were he and his family has a timeshare.