Pork Roll or Taylor Ham

April 2nd, 2015
Posted by Kevin J Potter

Is it Pork Roll or Taylor Ham?

Being in Central Jersey, we are caught in the middle of a never-ending debate between North Jersey and South Jersey. Who is wrong? Who is right? Is it pork roll or is it Taylor Ham?

Judge & Jury

Before I attempt to bring an end to this ongoing controversy, let me first explain my unorthodox yet rational reasoning for me being the sole mediator of this debate. Back in the days of yore, I was a student at Ramapo College up in North Jersey. My roommates were all locals from North Jersey but my girlfriend was from South Jersey. Being that I liked her, she would spend time at my place with me . . . and my roommates – which consequently meant I would have to deal with the constant arguing between the Northerners and the Southerners. The debate of whether it is called pork roll or Tyler Ham was hands down the worst argument of them all. And I had to listen to each side of the argument over and over . . . and over again.

North vs South

Being from the mythical land of Central Jersey (some people don’t believe Central Jersey exist, which is another ongoing debate), I remain neutral. Pork roll and Taylor Ham are both breakfast meats to me, just like hoagies and heroes are both are both sandwiches or like New York and Philadelphia are both called “the city”. My decision in determining the difference between pork roll and Taylor Ham is unbiased. I therefore appoint myself mediator based both on natural birthright and personal experience. Now let’s begin . .  .

Pork Roll

Pork roll is a generic processed-meat product made from spiced pork grounds. But in a less formal definition, it is glorified spam for New Jerseyans.

Pork Roll or Taylor Ham SandwichIt is most commonly used for breakfast sandwiches. The heavily salted meat is perfectly balanced when layered with egg and cheese.

In New Jersey, you can buy pork roll at any grocery store from a wide-variety of brands, and it is a favorite at diners. But before pork roll was New Jersey’s number one diner food, it was New Jersey’s number one military food.

It is rumored to believe that pork roll first came about in 1776 during the Revolutionary War at the Battle of Trenton. It was considered to be a perfect stock food for soldiers for many reasons:

  1. Inexpensive – the meat of pork roll came from the unwanted parts of a pig. It was therefore cheap to produce and easily mass-produced.
  2. Long Shelf Life – the meat was heavily spiced and salt, allowing it to last a long time.
  3. Compact – It was small and easily wrapped, making it easy to carry.
  4. Delicious – If you have to eat the same food everyday for weeks to come, you might as well enjoy it!

It is easy to see why soldiers would carry pork roll. When the war was over, soldiers must have thought it to be so good that they brought it home with them. And that’s why we still have it today. Now there are several brands of pork roll, each with their own mix of spices and unique taste.

Taylor Ham

In 1856, a man by the name of John Taylor created a pork roll recipe using special spices. He called his pork roll Taylor’s Prepared Ham. The product became an immediate success in the town of Bella Mead, New jersey and the surrounding areas in Northern Jersey.

Pork Roll or Taylor HamWhen the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was formed, Taylor’s Prepared Ham failed to meet the new legal definition of ham set by the Pure Food And Drug Act of 1906. As result, the name was changed from Tyler’s Prepared Ham to Taylor’s Pork Roll.

By this time, Taylor’s Pork Roll was well-known throughout the state. Many copy-cat competitors began to emerge with similar brand names such as Taylor’s Rolled Pork. Taylor took legal action and sued several copy-cat compiles in 1910. The major result of the legal case was that the words “pork roll” could not be trademark. The name was then changed for a third time to Taylor Provisions, which remains the company’s name today.

The Ruling

In the debate of whether it is called pork roll or Taylor Ham, it seems the proper name for that delicious ham-like substance is pork roll. However, calling it Taylor Ham is not technically wrong. Taylor Ham is simply a brand of pork roll, and we often use brand names to identify product names. When we want a tissue we ask for a Kleenex, when need a bandage we ask for a Band-Aid. When some people want pork roll on their egg sandwich they ask for Taylor Ham.

With that being said, my final conclusion to this debate is neither pork roll nor Taylor Ham is wrong, it’s just that pork roll is more right.porkroll or Taylor Ham New Jersey

The Evil Clown of Middletown

March 20th, 2015
Posted by Kevin J Potter

The suburban areas of New Jersey are well-known known for the weird and strange. Alongside Route 35, Middletown has its own unique Weird NJ landmark. He stands like a steadfast giant on the side of the road, watching passersby with hunting eyes. He doesn’t so much as smile, but grins like a depraved child waiting for disaster to happen. His name is Calico, but most know him as “The Evil Clown of Middletown.”

Evil Clown of Middletown

Joseph Azzolina

Despite how eerie The Evil Clown of Middletown may look, there is no urban-legend, haunting, ghost story, folklore, or dark history that follows Calico’s past. The nearly 30 foot-tall steel sign was constructed in 1956 as a roadside advertisement for Joseph Azzolina’s Food Circus. At the time, the circus clown advertisement seemed appropriate for the circus themed grocery store.

The artist responsible for Caliclo, The Evil Clown of Middletown, was Leslie Worth Thomas of Road Side Ad Company. The name may sound familiar to some New jerseyans because he was also responsible for another sinister clown – Tillie.


Joseph Azzolina’s Food Circus was a local success and quickly grew into Food Circus Supermarkets Inc., which now operates 10 stores in the New Jersey counties of Monmouth, Ocean, and Middlesex. However, the original store closed in 1991 and has been replace by a local liquor store, Spirits Unlimited. But the ownership of the store still belongs to the Azzolina family (along with the Scaduto family). So the iconic clown still stands tall, but the connection of why he is there remains lost to many.

Regardless of its connection or lack-there-of, locals still have a strange liking to The Evil Clown of Middletown. Calico has his own line of t-shirts, a facebook page, and has appeared in several movies including Clerks II.

Evil Clown of Middletown Facebook

In 2011, Joseph Azzolina Jr. had the clown cleaned, renovated and repainted, and vowed to “preserve the Evil Clown as a unique symbol of Middletown pride.” So it seems Calico, The Evil Clown of Middletown, will remain in Middletown for quite a while. . .

Date Ideas During Winter

March 4th, 2015
Posted by Kevin J Potter

It’s date night! But winter has come – and with it, the cold and bitter winds that compel you to take shelter indoors. So what is there to do when you are confined to four walls? No worries, there are still ways to enjoy an evening with your lovely companion! Here are some great date ideas during winter:

Ice Skating

Ice skating is one of the most common date ideas during winter, but never-the-less romantic.

Imagining walking into the arena. The smell of fresh popcorn and sweets from the concession stand fill the air. The room echoes with the sounds of laughter from both children and adults. The faint melodies of a love song lingers in the background. The air is cool but refreshing – she huddles closer to you for warmth, wrapping both hands around your one arm and nuzzling her cheek against your shoulder. You step onto the rink with her. You haven’t skated in years so you are a little weak on the ice at first (and slightly embarrassed), but that’s okay because so is she. You both laugh at each other for stumbling and suddenly the worries of falling fade away. You both gain the strength and begin the endless laps around the rink as you hold each other’s hand.

By the end of the night, your date will be intoxicated by the romance. She will think she is in a Nicholas Sparks movie. . . and thats means you are Ryan Gosling!

Ryan Gosling - Hey GirlThe Arcade

Going to the arcade may sound a little too highschool-ish for some, but it is not limited by age. I have seen couples at age 40+ go on a date to the arcade and have fun – it makes them feel like a kid again.

Going to the arcade is also one of the best first dates. The first date is always like an interview, you have to constantly be asking questions and engaging in conversation. There is no room for silence, less you want an awkward moment to arise. Going to the arcade allows a comfortable silence when you’re playing games – giving you time to breathe and think of another question to ask.

If you have never been to an arcade, try YESTERcades in Red Bank. They have a great set-up where you pay hourly instead of by machine. They are also locate in the center of town, so you can get food and drinks from a variety of places close by after beating the last boss battle. Another great arcade is on the Jenkinson’s Boardwalk.

A Movie and Dinner (Not Dinner and a Movie)

Dinner and a Movie - Date IdeasAnother common date idea during winter is simply dinner and a movie. But if you do this, make sure you do it right! Go to the movie first, then go to dinner. This way you have something to talk about while eating. Here’s another tip – If it is one of your first few dates, look at the dinner menu before the date, therefore you can spend more time talking to her instead of reading the menu.


Netflix Binge

Netflix memeIf you don’t have the money to go out for dinner and a movie (or are just lazy), you can always have a netflix binge. Put on a Tv show, microwave some popcorn, and grab a blanket for you and your date. Then waste away the hours snuggling and watching Frank Underwood rise to power.

See a Local Show

Instead of spending a butt load of money on seeing a concert in the city, go to a local show. Bars always have local bands or comedians performing and half the time there is no entry fee. So you can spend the extra money you save on a few fancy drinks and a nice meal. Plus, you get a better chance of meeting the band members at a local show than at a concert.

Beer Tasting

BeerYou could ask her to grab a couple drinks with you at a bar. . . or you could step up your game. Instead of doing the typical date, add some flair by going for a beer tasting (it’s a more sophisticated way of drinking) . There are a whole bunch of micro-breweries in New Jersey where you can go tasting – Carton, Kane, and River Horse are just a few good ones.

Going out and doing the same thing with a twist will make the night much more memorable.

Play in the Snow

An easy way of turning lemons into lemonade is to just play in the snow! Build a snowman, go sledding, have a snowball fight, maybe build an igloo too! Dont’ let the cold ruin your day, let it make the day even better. Besides, when’s the last time you played in the snow?

Snow Day - Puppy


Just because the weather has come doesn’t mean you have to be mundane and boring. So grab your scarf and take your lovely companion out for memorable night in a winter wonderland (or just grab the blanket if you choose the netflix binge). Have fun!