Say what you will about New Jersey — plenty of people in New York have some words — but those from the Garden State know how to make a damn good breakfast sandwich. Forget the bacon and sausage: we pair the the egg and cheese with a tastier meat called pork roll. If you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry. Although it can be found in parts of Maryland and Pennsylvania, pork roll is more or less an enigma to the rest of the country. In fact, there’s even a bit of confusion about what to call it in New Jersey.
Those from central and south Jersey call it pork roll. But make your way north on the Garden State Parkway and you’ll start hearing a different name: Taylor Ham. The truth is, both names are correct. When it was first manufactured by John Taylor outside Trenton in 1856, it was called Taylor Ham. But then the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 happened and the company was forced to rename it Taylor’s Pork Roll, since the pork-blended food product was not, by the letter of the law, completely ham.
No matter what you call it, pork roll (this writer’s roots are in central Jersey) is delicious. Cooked the same way as bacon, preferably in a cast iron skillet, it’s served in thin or thick slices depending on your preference. In New Jersey, every restaurant, diner and neighborhood bagel shop has their own take on the pork roll sandwich, and so do their customers. Most order a pork roll, egg and American cheese on a bagel, usually with extra salt, pepper and ketchup; others have it in a hard roll or a wrap. However you have it, if you’re a fan of breakfast sandwiches you’ll like the pork roll. Next time you’re in New Jersey, hold the Christie jokes and order one.