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  • Writer's pictureAdam Horvath

Confessions of a Taylor Ham Eater

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

You want it. You really want it. You need it so fucking bad don't you. Alright, you got it.

The truth is we all know it’s pork roll, we just don’t care. For most of us die harders, it’s always going to be Taylor ham, no matter what the evidence proves. That's just the way it is. I know what you pork rollers are thinking but I’m starting to feel a little like Eminem right now, you know the battle at the end of 8 Mile, when Em calls out all his own weaknesses before Papa Doc gets a chance to. Well, here I go.


Everybody put your hands in the air and follow meI know everything you’re ‘bout to say against me. It says it right on the label. Taylor is a brand name. Show me anywhere it says Taylor Ham? Ham is technically part of a pig's leg! I do have a dumb friend named Cheddar Bob who shot his own leg.” Wait, that last one actually is from the movie, but my point is, I already know what you are going to say. And you know what I’m going to say in return.


When you clean your ear, do you ask for a cotton swab? No, you ask for a Q-tip. And when you cut yourself are you looking for an adhesive bandage? No, you’re looking for a Band-Aid. And if you're not, you’re a nerd just looking to win a debate. It’s exhausting! It’s nonstop, like beating a dead horse. I’m a hypocrite for even writing about it right now, but I can’t stop. Won't stop. It's a never-ending argument that I was born into and I’m not willing to give up.


ConCessions of a Taylor Ham Eater


I’m a fair guy and I’m willing to concede a little. I can admit there’s a greater portion of New Jersey, I’m talking land area but maybe not population, that refer to our state’s amazing breakfast meat as pork roll. It’s not really a cut and dry, North vs South Jersey debate like some people think. I know a decent amount of Giants fans living North of the *Driscoll Bridge that order **PECSPK's at their hometown delis. I’ve even spied an occasional outlier in the thick of North Jersey selling pork roll, personally I blame Wawa, but that’s a different story. (literally, I also wrote it) And since I am being honest, WE ALL KNOW that the one picture of the red Taylor Ham package is photoshopped!


But here is something I think needs to be cleared up. When we order a Taylor ham and cheese, we're not actually asking for a Taylor Provisions brand pork roll and cheese. Sure, I think we can all agree Taylor makes the best, but to us, Case pork roll is Case Taylor ham. Hatfield pork roll is Hatfield Taylor ham. Shop Rite... you get it, right? We are ordering the meat, not actually asking for the brand of meat kinda like in the deep South when a waitress asks if you want Coke, she's really asking if you want soda?


To summarize, we're not calling it Taylor ham because we're all historians that legitimately care that John Taylor originally named his culinary masterpiece "prepared ham" in the 1800's and we want to honor his wishes. No, we call it Taylor ham, because our moms and dads called it Taylor ham, and their parents and so on and so on. It's our history, and it's not going to change. And for those of you that ask "show me where it says Taylor ham", come to any deli in Morris, Essex and Bergen County and you can read it on the menu for yourself.


Let's debate the other issues

The reality is that I'm not going to convince you and you're not going to change my mind. As a Facebook admin on the Jersey Sandwich Joints, I'm constantly seeing heated exchanges, each side as passionate as the other. I love it. I delete them because it's toxic at times, but I appreciate the dedication and wit while also acknowledging the weaker debates. But for any of you non-Jersey readers, the truth is, whether we call it Taylor ham (It is Taylor ham) or pork roll, our state is home to the best breakfast meat in the country. Yea, I'm talking to you Delaware with your weak ass scrapple, you too Ohio (goetta) I have no idea why Taylor ham/pork roll isn't on every IHOP, Waffle House or Denny's menu across the country, but I kinda like that it is ours. And for my fellow Garden Staters, we don't have to end our squabbles, but let's elevate our debates. Like should it be thick cut or thin cut? Served on a bagel, hard roll or toast? Is ketchup, salt and pepper the standard? And do you agree with me that the best way to cook it, is well done so the edges caramelize or do you cook it incorrectly. Let's talk about this with same passion!


EDIT: I've been eating Taylor Ham and cheese for over 40 years and I just had the best one ever. From the first bite of charred caramelized meat layered with gooey American cheese to the last chew, I loved everything about Pascarella Brother's in Chatham New Jersey. Whether you order a Taylor Ham or a Pork Roll, they won't judge and if it doesn't make your top 5 list, let's talk politics and religion.


*Driscoll Bridge - A Garden State Parkway bridge spanning the Raritan River and one of a few unofficial demarcations of North vs South Jersey


**PECSPK's - Short Hand abbreviation for Pork Roll, Egg & Cheese with Salt, Pepper, Ketchup. Written as TECSPK up North

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7 Comments


Daniel Jones
Daniel Jones
Sep 12, 2023

I realize that it was first called "TAYLOR'S PREPARED HAM" for about 50years. But the name was changed due to the FACT it doesn't contain HAM. It is made from finely ground pork shoulder. HAM is from the back leg. It has been labeled PORK ROLL for over 100years. The package's are Labeled PORK ROLL and ingredients don't list HAM but list Pork.

Please tell me where I can buy a package labeled " Taylor Ham " 🤔

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John Lefeber
John Lefeber
Jun 07
Replying to

Does Turkey Ham have pork in it? 🤔 Nobody ever said the word "prepared" just like you don't say Kraft PATEURIZED Cheese... You just say either Kraft, Kraft Cheese, or Cheese. You can look up newspapers from the late 1800's and up to 1906 online and see that it was advertised as Taylor Ham or Taylor's Ham. It used to just be packaged in a burlap sack and camera photos were not commonly used for news ads at that time due to camera technology, film, and printing. It's a colloquialism and goes by both names. Will never change :)

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Justin Emmons
Justin Emmons
Jun 12, 2023

I like it many ways but fav style cooked the same as you

thin with layers of Cooper sharp between the more layers of thin

sometimes an egg

sometimes over medium

sometimes rye


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Catherine Smith
Catherine Smith
Jun 09, 2023

Taylor Ham & cheese on a hard roll with ketchup. Thick cut is good & make sure those edges get caramelized!

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Steven Newstead
Steven Newstead
Jun 08, 2023

I DO legitimately care that John Taylor originally named his culinary masterpiece "prepared ham" in the 1800's and want to honor his wishes. It wasn't until 1906 when the government screwed it up with the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 which prohibited the sale of misbranded or adulterated food and drugs in interstate commerce and laid a foundation for the nation’s first consumer protection agency, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And I'm pretty sure 97% of the people who buy pork roll at the store elect to purchase the original Taylor Ham.

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Justin Emmons
Justin Emmons
Jun 12, 2023
Replying to

I’m pretty sure 3% of a pork roll sales isn’t enough to support the other companies that make it 🤦🏻

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slohrfink1102
Jun 08, 2023

Seriously LAUGHING OUT LOUD!! I tend to get mine Taylor Ham & Cheese on an everything bagel ..: no egg (cause yuck) … and no salt pepper OR ketchup … well, cause everything bagel has what I need to be happy‼️ and screw you for always making me hungry for food I can no longer get down here in FLORIDA!! But hey … I’ve got sunshine, beaches and Palm trees… can’t complain. 🫶🏼 ~Stephanie Lohrfink

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