Maine has lobster rolls, Maryland has clam cakes, Iowa has the pork tenderloin… Every state has an iconic food or two – New Jersey has 10. There are certain foods that just scream Jersey, whether they got they got their start here, or were perfected in the state. Almost every New Jerseyan will be familiar with the following dishes:
1. Taylor Ham/Pork Roll
The quintessential Jersey dish. Surrounded by debate, North Jerseyans call it Taylor Ham, South Jerseyans call it Pork Roll. It originated in Trenton over 100 years ago and can be difficult to find out-of-state. The dish is so popular here, there are TWO festivals celebrating it.
2. Italian Hot Dog
James "Bluff" Racioppi, proprietor of Jimmy Buff's, concocted the Italian Hot Dog in Newark circa 1932. This delicious dish combines Italian bread, a deep-fried frank, deep-fried potatoes, peppers, and onions. Though the Newark location has closed, you can get an original Jimmy Buff's Italian Hot Dog in Kenilworth or West Orange. South Jersey can find authentic Italian-style dogs at Joe Joe's Italian Hot Dogs in Toms River.
3. Jersey Tomatoes
We're not called the Garden State for nothing. Our tomatoes are known worldwide for their freshness and flavor.
Not only do we do tomatoes right, but the blueberry as we know it got its start here. In 1911, Elizabeth White, the daughter of a New Jersey farmer, teamed up with a USDA botanist to crossbreed bushes and create the perfect blueberry. White harvested and sold the first commercial crop of blueberries out of Whitesbog in 1916.
5. Tomato Pie
Another Jersey favorite, this unique pie gained popularity in Trenton a century ago. It differs from traditional pizza as the focus is on the sauce. You can find terrific tomato pies throughout the state, but Papa's in Robbinsville may have the best. They're also the oldest continually operating pizza place in New Jersey.
6. Campbell's Soup
We're all familiar with the iconic can, immortalized by the work of Andy Warhol, but did you know the brand got its start here? Joseph A. Campbell, a fruit merchant from Bridgeton, founded the company in 1869. The international headquarters are still located in Camden.
7. Sloppy Joe
Not ground beef on a bun, the New Jersey Sloppy Joe is a bit different. A cold deli sandwich on Rye bread, you'll find multiple deli meats, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing. The sandwich is said to have gotten its start in the 1930s at Town Hall Deli in South Orange. The deli still serves up some of the best Sloppy Joes! Another great place, and one of the most famous spots to find a Jersey Joe, is Millburn Deli in Millburn.
8. Hard Roll
Some may consider this more of a New York thing, but us New Jerseyans sure do love our hard rolls... with butter, please!
9. Welch's Grape Juice
Though this is a drink, the brand is iconic worldwide. Did you know it got its start in the appropriately named VINEland, New Jersey back in 1869?
10. Salt Water Taffy
This Jersey favorite got its start in Atlantic City circa 1885. You can thank Joseph Fralinger for this sweet treat by visiting the famous Fralinger's on the boardwalk at New York Avenue. Though it does not contain seawater, the taffy does contain both salt and water.
Which of these foods is your favorite? What other popular New Jersey foods would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments.