Cuisine of New Jersey

Cuisine of New Jersey
A deep-fried, bacon wrapped "Jersey breakfast dog"

The Cuisine of New Jersey is representative of the Mid Atlantic region of the United States. The state of New Jersey is known for its commercial food and industrial production, with the state once boasting that "Trenton makes, the world takes", a phrase popularized by its placement on the Trenton Lower Free Bridge in the 1920s and 1930s.[1] The Garden State was responsible for three important contributions to cuisine: the development of the Mason jar, Grape juice, and frozen food.[1] Restaurants make use of locally grown ingredients such as asparagus, blueberries, cranberries, tomatoes, corn, and peaches.[2]

Due to its position between New York City and Philadelphia, many towns in New Jersey are bedroom communities of one or the other.[citation needed] As a result, the signature foods of both cities are very popular in their corresponding suburbs - pizza, bagels, pastrami, and submarine sandwiches (sometimes called heroes) in the New York Metropolitan Area communities of Northern and Central Jersey, and hoagies (the Philadelphia equivalent of a New York hero), cheesesteaks, pretzels, water ices, and scrapple in the Philadelphia Area towns of South Jersey.

Still, there are a number of foods which are especially prominent in or unique to the Garden State. North Jersey is renowned as a hot dog stronghold, with several variants that have their roots in its cities. The ripper is perhaps the most famous type of hot dog that is native to New Jersey. It is deep-fried in oil until the casing bursts, or "rips", and might be best exemplified at Rutt's Hut, a longtime hot dog eatery in Clifton, New Jersey. Texas wieners are another type of hot dog in the state. They are either grilled or deep-fried and served with spicy brown mustard, chopped onions, and a thin meat sauce similar to chili. Wieners ordered "all the way" are dressed with all three condiments. Interestingly, the Texas wiener was independently created in two different locations - Paterson, New Jersey and Altoona, Pennsylvania six years earlier.

Another type of hot dog indigenous to North Jersey is the Italian hot dog, which originated at Jimmy Buff's in Newark in 1932 and is one of the foods most synonymous with North Jersey's Italian-American culture, especially in Essex County. The Italian hot dog is prepared by slicing a roll of round pizza bread in half (for a double order) or into quarters (for a single order), digging a pocket into it, and then spreading mustard along the inside of the roll. A deep-fried dog (two for a double order) is stuffed into the pocket, topped by fried or sauteed onions and peppers, and then followed by deep-fried potatoes that have been thinly sliced into discs or thickly-cut into chunks and drizzled with ketchup. Italian sausages can be substituted for the hot dogs and, as with their counterpart, are ordered as a single or double order.

Trenton, located near the boundary of Central and South Jersey, is known for two foods in particular: Tomato pie and Pork roll. In Trenton, Tomato pie is basically an interchangeable term for pizza, albeit with a subtle difference: while traditional pizza pies are prepared by placing the cheese and toppings on top of the sauce and dough, tomato pies are made by laying the cheese directly on top of the dough, then adding the toppings, and finally spreading the sauce atop the mix.[3] This creates a more tomato-intensive taste for the thin-crust pie.

Cuban cuisine has also had an impact in New Jersey (especially in the Hudson County area), typical Cuban food includes: Christianos y Moros (also known as Arroz Moros/Rice and Black Beans), Lechon, the Cuban sandwich, Arroz Salteado and Dulce de leche.

Meanwhile, pork roll is a sausage-like pork product developed by John Taylor of Trenton in the late 19th century and has become a popular breakfast and sandwich meat throughout the Garden State. In South Jersey, it is often referred to as a pork roll due to the "roll" or tube-like sack in which it is traditionally packaged, while in Northern and Central Jersey it is usually called Taylor ham. The meat is generally eaten sliced and grilled like Canadian bacon, but is also known to be fried. The San Francisco burrito is not unknown.[4]

And then there is salt water taffy, which is Atlantic City's gastronomic contribution to the world. It is a soft taffy originally produced and marketed in the South Jersey resort city beginning in the late 19th century, and is a staple candy and souvenir item of the Jersey Shore boardwalk. Salt water taffy is widely sold throughout beachfront areas of the United States and Canada.

In addition to its local foods, New Jersey boasts a plethora of authentic ethnic cuisines due to its large immigrant population. Some of the more prominent examples include Indian, Brazilian, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Middle Eastern, and of course Italian food, which is arguably the most popular cuisine among New Jerseyans.

New Jersey is renowned for its multitude of diners, many of which are open around the clock. In fact, New Jersey has more diners per capita than any other state in the U.S.

The Grease Trucks of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey have also been made famous by mentions in USA Today, and by Maxim Magazine naming the "Fat Darrell", the top sandwich in the nation.[5] [6] summarizes New Jersey cooking from the Lenni Lenape native Americans to the present.


  • Disco fries - French fries with cheese (most commonly mozzarella) melted on top and covered with brown gravy.
  • Texas Wiener - A deep-fried hot dog served with onions and chili sauce.[7]
  • Pork roll (South Jersey name) Taylor Ham (North Jersey name) - Usually fried and eaten on a sandwich with eggs and/or cheese.
  • Italian Hot Dog
  • Roll and butter - A hard or kaiser roll with butter. Some establishments offer salad dressing in addition to butter.[8]
  • Sloppy joe sandwich native to North-Central Jersey - A triple decker deli sandwich (most commonly containing corned beef or pastrami, turkey and ham, but with many variations) dressed with cole slaw and russian dressing on thin-sliced rye bread.
  • Jersey breakfast dog - A danger dog (deep-fried bacon-wrapped hot dog) with eggs and melted cheese.[9]



  • Caparulo, Vicki J. (2003). Great Dishes from New Jersey's Favorite Restaurants. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0813533112. 
  • Di Ionno, Mark (2002). Backroads, New Jersey: Driving at the Speed of Life. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0813531330. 
  • Genovese, Peter (2007). New Jersey Curiosities, 2nd: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff. Globe Pequot. ISBN 0762741120. 

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