New Jersey’s most controversial food is also its most beloved. Half the state says Taylor Ham, half the state says Pork Roll (though recent polls put Pork Roll in the lead by a modest margin) and Taylor Pork Roll isn’t the only brand. There are several, including the equally popular Case brand Pork Roll, but Taylor’s ham was the first. Here are 7 reasons why New Jerseyans love this spectacularly spiced meat.
1. It's uniquely New Jersey.
In a state sandwiched between New York City and Philadelphia, it's nice to have something that's just ours. Sure, the goodness has spread a bit over the years, but it was invented in Trenton back in 1856.
2. It has history.
Some say that the meat's origins in New Jersey date back to the Battle of Trenton where Hessian troops snacked on spiced pork. By the time John Taylor patented his own version in 1856, the meat market was dominated by German and Polish sausage. Still, his signature recipe quickly caught on, possibly with the help of the Freemasons - his father may have been a member.
3. It's quirky like us.
In a state with a sense of humor, I can't help but find it funny that what many call Taylor Ham (including myself... but only half the time) doesn't technically meet the FDA standards for ham. Originally marketed at "Taylor Ham," the brand had to remove ham from the official name in 1906 with the introduction of the "Pure Food and Drug Act."
4. It tastes great.
There's nothing quite like the smoked mix of salt, sugar and spices. It's deliciously crispy and loaded with greasy goodness.
5. It goes with everything.
I've seen it on pizza, ramen noodles, burgers, spaghetti and soup. There's even a Pork Roll donut at Purple Glaze in Asbury Park. Designed in conjunction with New Jersey Isn't Boring, the eponymous donut combines the meat with garam marsala, cardamom and agave, is filled with chopped apple compote and sprinkled with sharp cheddar cheese. The limited edition donut is available until July 13th and helps to benefit Sammy's Hope Animal Welfare & Adoption Center in Sayreville and Tails of Hope. The fantastic Johnny's Pork Roll Truck is a partner and has been serving the delectable donut as well. How do you eat yours?
6. But especially a hard roll.
The quintessential New Jersey sandwich, typically served with egg and cheese.
7. It brings people together.
In addition to Trenton Thunder's Pork Roll Eating Competition, New Jersey has TWO Pork Roll Festivals. The "Trenton Pork Roll Festival," held at Trenton Social, offers some spectacularly unique Pork Roll dishes (Pork Roll carnitas, anyone?), while "The Pork Roll Festival" offers up a Pork Roll Queen Pageant. Attendance is high as we love to celebrate this delicious New Jersey meat.
Do you have Pork Roll pride or are you a Taylor Ham fan? What do you love most about the meat? Have you enjoyed one of our Pork Roll festivals (if not, check out next year’s – in May) or tried Purple Glaze’s/Johnny’s Pork Roll donut?