There’s a lot of things to make fun of New Jersey for – I get it. But, there’s also a lot of things to thank it for. Most of those things happen to be related to food. Here are some of the foods that you will 100% hear Jersey-natives whining about when they’re away from home:
Yes, all other states have bagels, but I promise you there is no comparison between a New Jersey bagel and an anywhere-else-bagel. Our bagels are big and fluffy, yet crispy and seasoned. Don’t even get me started about what we put on the bagels. It’s easy to say that Jersey is the ultimate bagel state (take that, New York).
2. Taylor Pork Roll
Depending on where you’re from, it could be called pork roll or Taylor ham. We will never stop fighting over what it’s “really” called (pork roll). For all of you out-of-state kids, pork roll is a pork product like bacon or sausage that goes on a breakfast sandwich, and it is amazing. Pork roll is salty and chewy and goes well on everything. It’s pretty much all your New Jersey roommate can talk about, and yes, it is that good.
WaWa is a convenience store chain that has some of the best subs, coffee, and snacks that I’ve ever had at really great prices. It’s definitely better that your average 7/11, and the people that work there are the best. The store offers the typical snacks and drinks, but also has their own brand of teas and juices, an entire bar filled with a bunch of coffee flavors, a full deli that can make sandwiches, salads, and flat breads, and fresh baked goods every day. To us Jersey folks, Wawa is the holy grail of foods.
4. Deli’s. Everywhere.
You really can’t go more than three blocks in Jersey without running into another deli, and each one is as good as the last. New Jersey is home to a big population of food lovers, and we love deli’s because no matter what you’re in the mood for, they will have what you need. The subs are the best. You can throw anything between two pieces of bread anywhere you go, but no one can do it better than a born-and-raised Jersey boy. Eating it on one of our beaches is just an added bonus.
Acme Markets is a chain of grocery stores, and a personal fav of most Jersey kids. They have fresh produce and their own ~deli~ with different types of prepared food. We like our Acme’s so much because there’s one in most towns, so whether it’s the people that work there, or the neighbors you run into, there’s always a friendly face in the aisle. And the food is obviously marvelous, too.
6. Surf Taco
This might only be a central/shore area establishment, but Surf Taco is a crazy good Mexican-Californian cuisine-style chain. The line is usually to the door, and the place is really laid back so you can go anytime. The food is a perfect blend of Mexican and American, and is very unique. They serve anything from acai bowls to chimichangas, and there really is no going wrong. If you go be sure to try the tsunami challenge which is a 4.5 pound burrito (amazing, I know).
7. Jersey Produce
For the people that still think New Jersey is “the armpit of America” we have more farmland than the entire state of Rhode island. So, with that said, we definitely have awesome produce to show for it. Some of the favorites include tomatoes, sweet corn, and blueberries. If you ever visit Jersey, be sure to stop by a farmer’s market and support local businesses by buying fresh fruit and veggies.
8. Carlo’s Bakery
If you haven’t seen Cake Boss, you’re definitely out of the loop. But, if you live in New Jersey and have never been to Carlo’s Bakery, you’re insane. Originally from Hoboken, the cake boss has expanded to many other locations throughout Jersey and is serving up some sweet desserts. Completely authentic Italian pastries are my weakness, and I will gladly wait in the hour long line to eat Carlo’s fabulous food.
9. Salt Water Taffy
Salt water taffy started off in Atlantic City, and has expanded to other shore towns across the country – but no one does it like we do. It’s outstandingly chewy and sweet and comes in a variety of flavors (and some even claim that it’s the best dessert in our state). All Jersey kids would beg their moms for another piece, and to this day it’s a guilty pleasure to throw some in the shopping cart at the store. And c’mon, they just look so cute and sweet!
10. Hardcore Italian Food
Obviously there are tons of great Italian cooks across the world, but New Jersey has such a large abundance of Italian bakeries and deli’s that it really does feel like “our” thing. Everyone loves to make fun of the guidos on The “Jersey Shore” and “The Sopranos,” and the only reason we let it slide is because we could not live without their food. The authentic homemade pasta, pizzas, and sandwiches are to die for. So keep making jokes, we’ll laugh in between bites of chicken marsala and fresh-baked focaccia.
11. Diner Food
New Jersey has over 600 diners, and that’s why we’re called the diner capitol of the world. Diners are pretty amazing because you can get pancakes all day, but most menus also have about 100 different options. Jersey kids can go before school or late at night with all their friends. The waiters are always friendly, and the food is always topnotch. Also, every diner is different, so some are more refined, while at others you can get triple cheese burgers. Either way there’s no going wrong.
The next time your roommate starts complaining about how much he or she misses her native land of New Jersey, give them a little sympathy because there’s so many amazing things (read: food) to miss. If you’re ever lucky enough to be in the Garden State, stop off and get some food before the lines get too long or the berries go out of season.