New Jersey can claim a ton of firsts and honors, most of them not very flattering (first state to be charged with securities fraud, most maligned state, former toxic landfill center of the universe), but there’s no doubt about one thing: it’s the Taylor ham capital of the world.
Make that pork roll capital of the world, because to fully appreciate this most beloved of breakfast meats one must understand this cardinal rule:
All Taylor ham is pork roll; not all pork roll is Taylor ham.
You can immediately tell a North Jerseyan from a South Jerseyan over the pork roll question. North Jerseyans call pork roll “Taylor ham.” South Jerseyans call it “pork roll.” The dividing line is roughly I-195, although as far as I’m concerned if you don’t recognize Central Jersey as a separate region, you don’t know Jersey.
Anyway, good luck trying to tell North Jerseyans there’s a decent chance the “Taylor ham’’ they are eating at their diners and luncheonettes is not made by Taylor Provisions in Trenton, the only company to make Taylor ham. If you’re not eating real Taylor ham, you can’t call it Taylor ham, but North Jerseyans don’t care. It’ll always be Taylor ham to them. But it’s like calling all paper tissues Kleenex, or all copiers Xeroxes.