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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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