20 Things You Don't Understand About NJ (Unless You're From There)
Look, we know NJ is the butt of a ton of jokes, some of them on this very website (sorry?), and some of them totally warranted, but the fact is, you don't know much of anything about NJ (unless you're from here, in which case, you're excused). The next time you want to bad mouth us, at least be educated about what lies on the other side of those bridges and tunnels.
1. Pork roll is an acceptable meat at any mealIn Northern Jersey, you may hear pork roll referred to as "Taylor Ham"; either way it's still delicious.
2. Going down the shore isn't as awful as it looks on TVReally, not all shore points consist of boozed-up, overly tan twenty-somethings (okay, some do) and most NJ residents resent the fact that this is what comes to mind when people hear the term "Jersey Shore". The shore is our pride and those who make fun of it or try to put it down probably haven't been to Parker House, or eaten chili cheese fries on the boardwalk, or won a million useless tickets playing skeeball.
3. We don't pump our own gasReally. We never have to leave the comfort of our Jeep to fill up since self-service gas stations don't exist here. So while you're trying to figure out why it keeps turning off when you’re 100% positive you can fit another quarter gallon in there, we're checking our phones and our hair.
4. We have diners approximately every 1/2 mileIt’s not really even possible to explain this to someone who didn’t make a zillion late-night or morning-after trips to Route 1 for disco fries, but diners are a way of life, and we love every one of them. But especially the Americana in East Windsor off 130, Bendix on Route 17, or the Tick Tock Diner on Route 3.
5. Your taxes might set you back more than your houseAs you drive North, prices go North as well. And good luck finding a shore property where you won’t have to give up your first-born child (... assuming your first-born child would be worth what you need to pay for insurance). This is even more true post-Sandy.
6. The sports Mason-Dixon line is Mercer CountyMercer County is approximately an hour from NYC and Philadelphia, so if you’re in the area, expect to see everything from Yankees, Mets, Giants, and Jets gear to Phillies and Eagles flags on the front lawn (there are some exceptions down the shore like Brick and LBI). Little known fact: you're required to define your allegiance as clearly as possible if living in this county, and you must engage in heated sports arguments with your neighbors regularly.
7. We've perfected late-night eatingWhether it's the bacon cheesesteak at Hoagie Haven, or the #1 with everything at Hoagie Haven, or the Mac Daddy at Hoagie Haven, or the Rutgers grease trucks (RIP), we've got drunchies totally down. Related: we call them hoagies (South) or subs/heros (up North).
8. We know the difference between tomato pies and pizzaAnd that we have the best ones you'll ever eat -- just try De Lorenzo’s, Maruca’s, or Papa’s and tell us otherwise. Do it, we dare you.
9. Related: our pizza is excellent tooAlong with diners, we’ve also got Italian restaurants and pizza places out our asses. Other states (we’re looking at you, New York) would like to lay claim to having the best, but with options like Tony Boloney's, JoJo’s, Conte’s, Federici’s, and countless others, NJ may be even more of a world-class pizza destination.
10. Garden State is not some ironic nameEver had a Jersey tomato? Or some delicious Jersey corn? Don't let the industry and occasional lingering smell near NYC fool you, our produce is top notch. Yeah we have farms, now you know.
11. The Turnpike is not for the weakIn fact, if you’re not comfortable with weird traffic merges, circles, texters, those mufflers that make cars louder, and generally just people getting after it on the road, we simply ask that you stay in the right lane at all times, particularly when driving on the Turnpike, Parkway, or Expressway. It’s really in the best interest of all parties.
12. We actually really love HobokenIt’s like a mini-NYC without the nonsense. It has a ton of great bars and restaurants. Washington St seems as though it was plucked out of Manhattan, significantly improved, and dropped into North Jersey. And lots of people who work in NYC live in Hoboken for the (now modest) price break. Bonus: Frank Sinatra was born, like a boss, in the great city of Hoboken. Double bonus: baseball was pretty much invented at Elysian Fields.
13. You can't really not underestimate the accuracy of this politically incorrect mapSpot on.
14. Wawa is the best convenience store in the worldOf course we have plenty of "sevs", but it’s Wawa that reigns supreme. MTOs like the spicy italian and hot turkey are just the beginning. You can get most staples and pretty much anything in a pinch. Locations are all throughout the state, and if you’re really lucky you might end up at a Super Wawa, where you can have someone pump your gas while you score a Buffalo chicken cheesesteak.
15. There's more stuff within an hour of us than most places (all places??) in the countryYou can get to mountains for skiing or hiking, lakes and rivers, the beach, and two major cities all pretty much within an hour no matter where you are. Where else can you do that? WHERE????
16. No one says New "Joisey"Not a single person.
17. Living off a highway exit is totally normalDon't be bewildered if you ask a New Jersey resident where they live and you do not get an answer in the form of a county, city, or street name, but instead, just "off Exit 105". It's also acceptable to provide an exit off the turnpike if more applicable.
18. You can't overestimate how much we actually like Bruce Springsteen and Bon JoviIn case you’ve never actually met someone from NJ, these guys are both from here, and we like to talk about it, A LOT. Chances of them not being played once on a night out = zero. Concerts for either musician are great anywhere but you have to do one in NJ. You could very easily end up on the lawn in between a 60-year-old lawyer and a 23-year-old college student who are both singing along in unison.
19. Respect the jughandleU-turns and left/right-hand turn lanes are simply nonexistent in some parts of the state. Get over it. If you miss your turn there’s another jughandle up ahead.
20. NJ Strong is no jokeYou may have seen these bumper stickers before and laughed, but the fact of the matter is, only the strong survive in NJ. We may not always get along with each other, and there’s no shortage of characters throughout the state, but we rally together when we need to, and we look good while doing it.
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Sean Johnson is a freelance writer who has written for media outlets such as Yahoo! Sports & NFL.com. He enjoys IPAs and baseball, preferably when paired together. His prized possession is his Jobu, which he attributes to helping the Phillies win the 2008 World Series. Follow him on Twitter.
This story was originally published on 10/20/2014.