It’s a debate as old as where North Jersey ends and South Jersey begins. And much older than whether there’s a Central Jersey. (pssst…there isn’t)

It’s the never-ending debate about whether to call the Jersey-centric delicacy one thing or another. That wonderful circle of sizzled-to-perfection meat where it curls up and browns right at the edges, the egg, the melting cheese, all taking up residence on a roll or a bagel. Add salt, pepper, ketchup (in New Jersey pronounced as one word saltpepperketchup) and you have magic.

But is it pork roll? Or is it Taylor ham?

If you know the history of this you know John Taylor created this gem under the brand name Taylor Ham but in the early 1900s its name had to be legally changed. Food labeling laws dictated it did not meet the legal definition of ham and therefore ever since, for over a century mind you, it has been labeled as Taylor’s pork roll.

Yet stubborn people in North Jersey never stopped calling it Taylor ham and the rest of the state calls it pork roll. The rest of the state is right.

So where I live in Raritan Township there’s a Starbucks on Route 202 I visited a few days ago to get my kids a treat. I was met at the drive-up window with the coolest tip jar, well, jars actually, ever.

They took the debate and allowed people to vote by putting money either in the jar labeled “pork roll” or the one next to it labeled “Taylor ham.”

Jeff Deminski photo
Jeff Deminski photo

What an ingenious way to have some fun but also to draw in more tips by encouraging those on the fence on tipping to have a vested reason.

The same Starbucks did this a few weeks ago when the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial was ongoing. The Depp jar was overflowing with tips whereas the Heard jar barely had pocket change.

In this case, I’m glad to report people here are on the right side of history. The “pork roll” jar had a lot more money in it than the “Taylor ham” jar. Hmmm, does this mean this part of Hunterdon County is in South or Central Jersey and not North? Maybe they’ll need new tip jars for that debate.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.

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