We Heart Pork Roll
Ask anyone in New Jersey what they had for breakfast and you will hear a lot about pork roll. Many consider the pork roll, egg and cheese sandwich to be the official breakfast sandwich of New Jersey, even though the state legislature has not officially designated it.
However, if you are from Northern New Jersey you won’t likely be ordering pork roll because there, our favorite breakfast meat is known as Taylor ham. The history of pork roll shows that John Taylor’s flagship meat product was once known as Taylor’s Prepared Ham over a hundred years ago so there is historical precedence for the alternative name but no one seems to know why the Taylor ham name stuck so well in the Northern areas of the state.
Ask just about anyone from outside of New Jersey about pork roll and they will probably give you a blank stare and create a mental picture of Arnold the pig tumbling down a hill. The NJ and PA folks, however, will tell you all about the breakfast sandwich that is a staple of every deli and sandwich shop throughout the region.
NJ folks are proud of their own piece of local food culture. Both Taylor and Case’s Pork Roll is made in Trenton, NJ and is almost entirely consumed in state of New Jersey. Although pork roll is readily available all over NJ, you are reminded of the fact that is a truly NJ food when you cross a bridge or tunnel into NYC. You will have a difficult time finding pork roll anywhere in the five boroughs.
You’ll have better luck as you travel west into Pennsylvania. The land of scrapple appreciates a good processed meat product and pork roll is produced by several PA meat purveyors.
As Jersey natives move to other areas of the country, they realize that finding pork roll outside of NJ can be difficult if not impossible. There are a few supermarket chains throughout the country that may carry it such as Publix in the Southeastern states but availability is still spotty. If you do your research, you can locate some sandwich shops and delis throughout the nation where you can actually find a Jersey pork roll sandwich.
How Do You Like It?
The classic Jersey breakfast sandwich consists of a couple slices of pork roll, a couple of runny eggs and cheese, usually yellow American, on a hard roll. Plenty of fat and cholesterol to power you through your day!
Being that pork roll is sold in a variety of ways; thin slices, thick slices and as a solid roll which is sliced by the preparer, folks have their preferences of how thick the pork roll should be. Most diners and sandwich shops prefer the simplicity of throwing the thin slices on the flat top for a quick fry. Some breakfast establishments hand cut a thick chunk of the pork roll creating a delicious meat bomb.
Any way you like it, pork roll is a big part of the Jersey experience. Like tomato pies, the boardwalk, and the Boss, pork roll is our very own.