When in need of a greasy, state-of-the-art hangover cure I roll out of bed into my running shoes. I take a quick jog to Wonder Bagels in Jersey City for a Taylor Ham, Egg, and Cheese on either a garlic or everything bagel. You can enjoy it on a roll as well. Either way, it does the body good after a night of excessive libations.
As a non-native of New Jersey, it was a few years before I heard other – some might say unspeakable – words used to describe this unique meat uttered by my friend from the Pine Barrens in South Jersey. “Pork roll” as he called it, struck me as very odd. Since then, I’ve gone back and forth calling it Pork Roll or Taylor Ham as I have no real preference on the matter until today.
If you’re unfamiliar with this mysterious meat Taylor Ham, or Pork Roll, is the unofficial meat people of the Garden State, consumed on a regular basis. Depending on where you grow up, whether in North or South Jersey, you will identify this meat as Taylor Ham or Pork Roll. This is truly a unique thing all New Jerseyans argue about consistently. To try and locate the line where it turns from Taylor Ham to Pork Roll I asked a number of Jersey friends to report their towns and what they call it:
Numbers 1 – 7 represent places it’s called Pork Roll and numbers 8-17 are Taylor Ham. Note: There was repeated cities/towns on both sides. I also got some rather funny remarks I’ll list for you below (none of these are my opinions):
“Taylor Ham, because wtf is Pork Roll?”
“Only commies/terrorists call it Pork Roll.”
“In Bayonne and the rest of the civilized world it’s Taylor Ham.”
“Taylor Ham isn’t even a type of meat. It’s a brand.”
“If someone calls it Pork Roll, they’re probably a Philadelphia sports fan which already shows they’re sub par human anyways.”
I also found a map from New Jersey: The Movie highlighting New Jersey’s Mason Dixon Line. This is also another version of that map which might be more clear. But what should we call it? This is serious investigative journalism folks.
My first bit of research informed me that Taylor Ham is in fact a brand. For instance if you Google “Taylor Ham” the first hit is actually Wikipedia’s article on Pork Roll. Taylor Ham is a brand, not a type of meat. This is what Jeff Edelstein discusses in The Trentonian. Not only are North Jerseyans frequently not eating the Taylor Ham brand, but they’re also eating a meat the USDA does not qualify as ham at all. But here’s some background on the meat:
Although there’s rumors or ideas that George Washington crossed the Delaware to assault the British supplied with it, John Taylor officially invented this packaged meat in 1856. Due to a forced name change In the early 20th century it was being marketed as “Taylor’s Pork Roll” or “Trenton Pork Roll.” When other similar products started popping up and using “pork roll” in their company/brand names, Taylor tried to sue them in 1910. Unfortunately the court decided that “pork roll” could not be trademarked as it was a type of meat. So it would seem South Jerseyites can rejoice in their successful claims.
Wrong. If we are to take Wikipedia’s page to be accurate, only one sentence matters. Apparently with the creation of this delicacy in 1856, John Taylor called it “Taylor’s Prepared Ham.” He was forced to change the name in 1906 when the Pure Food and Drug Act decided his meat did not qualify as ham.
All that matters is what John Taylor originally called this product, “Taylor’s Prepared Ham,” or Taylor Ham for short. There was no mention of pork roll for 50 years. The meat was originally called Taylor Ham, and should stay that way to honor John Taylor, a man among men, a hero for the people of New Jersey. It really doesn’t matter what the FDA or USDA says after letting Easy Cheese keep cheese in it’s name.
This is America, we honor our heroes, inventors, and folklore. From now on, in the memory of John Taylor, every single person should be calling it Taylor Ham as he originally intended.
Do you agree or disagree? Let me know why below in the comments.