Guest post by Diane Schmidt
New Jersey is richly known for its history and farming, and there is some famous food from New Jersey! I’m happy that Erin is sharing two favorite foods with you from my home state and I’ll be providing some fun facts along the way.
A Little New Jersey History
New Jersey was made a state on December 18, 1787, and was one of the original 13 colonies. During the Revolutionary War, more battles were fought in New Jersey than in any other state.
Many people think New Jersey is divided into the north and the south, but there is a whole part in the middle that is known as Central Jersey. That’s where I’m from, close to the shore and right in the middle of lots of farmland.
Bruce Springsteen and I share the same hometown, and he often sings of his days there. New Jersey is known for raising many musicians and famous people from Frank Sinatra to Bon Jovi, and John Travolta, Kelly Ripa, Martha Stewart. The list of famous people is long.
History of the Pork Roll
The Garden State is known as the diner capital of the world. New Jersey is home to over 500 diners. And there is one thing you can always count on being on the menu: Pork Roll, Egg, and Cheese.
So what is Pork Roll? An accurate description would be a pork-based meat option. And though it looks like Canadian bacon, spam, or bologna, it’s definitely not. What it is...is delicious and one taste is worth the trip to New Jersey because you won’t find it in many other places. Though you can order it here.
Pork roll is part breakfast item and part hangover cure. The meat is smoked, combined with salt and spices, then sugar cured. It’s most often served on a hard roll or bagel, though it would be a sin to put limitations on it.
Depending on where you go, you may hear pork roll referred to as Taylor Ham, which is also correct. This comes from the original maker John Taylor of Hamilton Square, NJ. He came up with this lovely product in 1856 and New Jersey hasn’t been the same since. Taylor Ham is also a popular brand name of pork roll. Though pork roll's actual history may be tied to George Washington himself and the Battle of Trenton in 1776. Lore says that it kept the future President and soldiers fed. Whether this is fact or pleasant fiction, is not clear. Either way, it’s a delicacy we are proud to claim.
My Pork Roll Memories
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwich. If it’s on the menu, I’m likely to order it! I also love pork roll sliced and grilled on its own. It makes a great midnight snack!
I remember many times when my brother and I met in the kitchen in the wee hours of the night. He would go outside and grill the pork roll, and I’d get everything else ready. Those may have been the best sandwiches ever!
No matter what time of day you choose to enjoy pork roll, enjoy it you will. Trust me! New Jersey even has two pork roll festivals - that’s how much we love our pork roll!
Pork roll is harder to come by since we no longer live in New Jersey. There is a meat market about an hour from me sells it and I’ve been known to drive the distance to get some. I have also been the happy recipient of hand-delivered pork roll. When my husband has gone for a visit to New Jersey he brought some back, packed in ice just for me. It’s a happy day when someone knows just what you’d love and brings it to you especially if you haven't had it in a long time.
History of Funnel Cakes
New Jersey is known for the boardwalk and beaches! The longest boardwalk in the world is located in Atlantic City and it is 4 miles long! One thing you can always find on the boardwalk is funnel cake! It's so yummy! There is nothing like getting all messy with the powdered sugar that is dusted on top.
A funnel swirls creamy batter into a hot pan of oil. This creates a latticework of deep-fried deliciousness which is then abundantly topped with powdered sugar. These yummy treats have a smaller Italian cousin called zeppoles. Both are synonymous with the boardwalks of New Jersey.
Although we enjoy them in New Jersey, we have the Pennsylvania Dutch to thank for funnel cakes. According to the book and history study, 'As American as Shoofly Pie,' funnel cakes originated as a holiday specialty served at church bazaars during the early 19th century. At this time eggs were scarce during the winter months. This made funnel cakes a special treat!
Famous Food From New Jersey Dinner Menu
New Jersey State Facts
- New Jersey was the 11th state in the US
- The very first submarine ride took place in the Passaic River. Maybe that's why we call long sandwiches Subs!
- New Jersey is also home to the first patented drive-in movie theatre which opened in June 1933
- New Jersey commercial fishing industry is the fifth-largest in the US. So when you head down the shore you can certainly get your fill of seafood and fish.
- It has the highest density of population of any state in the U.S.
- Famous people from New Jersey include: Grover Cleveland, Judy Blume, and Whitney Houston
About the Author
Diane Schmidt was born and raised in New Jersey. She now lives in Southern California with her family. She shares her passion for food on her blog, Created by Diane, featuring sweet and savory recipes that will entice you to dive right in and make her easy and delicious recipes that will impress your friends and family. You can also find her on Instagram @createdbydiane
If this is the first state dinner you have enjoyed with us, check out our journey from the beginning, starting here.