New Jersey, a small state on the east coast, does not have the best reputation in the country. MTV’s Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives of New Jersey certainly didn’t help improve the state’s reputation, but there’s a lot more to New Jersey than meets the eye.
In addition to being the home of Meryl Streep, Frank Sinatra, Whitney Houston, Shaquille O’Neal, and the Jonas Brothers, New Jersey boasts some pretty awesome foods for which the rest of the country should be thankful.
M&Ms are nothing less than perfection. After Forrest Mars, Sr. was inspired by the Smarties he saw British soldiers eating during the Spanish Civil War, he came up with the idea of M&Ms. Production began in 1941 in a factory in Newark, NJ and M&Ms have had a special place in Americans’ hearts ever since.
#SpoonTip: Choosing M&Ms is hard. Check out the definitive ranking of M&Ms flavors.
2. Frozen Dinners/TV Dinners
Thank New Jersey every time you feel lazy and heat up a frozen dinner. The TV dinner was invented in 1944 by William L. Maxson of West Orange. Initially, they served his invention on airplanes, but the concept has since grown. Today, there are dinners that come with dessert, breakfast-style TV dinners, and more.
3. Taylor Ham/Pork Roll
What is the world’s best breakfast sandwich? Taylor ham, egg, and cheese. Well, there would be no such thing as Taylor ham, egg, and cheese if it weren’t for John Taylor of Trenton, New Jersey. In 1856, Taylor invented this new type of meat that would forever change the world of delicious breakfast sandwiches.
4. Saltwater Taffy
A trip to the beach isn’t a trip to the beach without a box of saltwater taffy. A classic souvenir from a trip down the shore, saltwater taffy is a soft taffy that was first sold in Atlantic City in the late 19th century. Joseph Fralinger is credited with popularizing the taffy by boxing it and selling it as an Atlantic City souvenir.
Campbell’s chicken noodle is an American classic. New Jersey is not only the birthplace of Campbell, but is also the birthplace of the first condensed soup. The very first soup released was a can of ready-to-eat tomato soup.
In 1897, Campbell revolutionized the industry when John T. Dorrance, a chemist at the company, invented condensed soup. He created five types, which included the classic tomato. Today, tomato soup is still in the top 10 shelf-stable foods sold in grocery stores in the US.
#SpoonTip: Eat your Campell’s tomato soup with grilled cheese.
There’s nothing like biting into an overstuffed sub after a long night out, and what better option than Jersey Mike’s? When Mike opened his shop on the boardwalk in Point Pleasant back in 1956, subs were fairly new to the US, but he soon changed that. Today, what started as a small mom-and-pop shop has over 1,500 locations nationwide.
Sometimes you just really feel like being healthy, and SaladWorks is the perfect place to get your health fix. The franchise with over 100 locations around the world hopped on the salad trend early when their first store opened in the Cherry Hill Mall in 1986. Since then, they have grown exponentially and become the country’s number one salad franchise.
8. Italian Hot Dog
The Italian hot dog is also known as the ultimate hot dog. Invented by James “Buff” Racioppi, who founded of Jimmy Buff’s in Newark, NJ in 1932, the Italian hot dog consists of a hot dog (usually deep fried) in an Italian roll or on pizza bread, topped with fried bell peppers, onions, and potatoes. Learn to make it yourself here.
9. Disco Fries
Thought Canada was solely responsible for the perfect combination of fries, cheese, and gravy? Think again. New Jersey’s own take on poutine consists of fries served with Mozzarella and brown gravy. Whatever, I’m getting cheese fries (with gravy).