Pork roll  is a pork-based processed meat commonly available in New Jersey, Delaware, and parts of New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland. It was developed in 1856 by John Taylor of Hamilton Square, New Jersey, and sold as "Taylor's Prepared Ham". Other producers entered the market, and subsequent food labeling regulations required Taylor to designate it as a "pork roll" alongside its competitors. While "Taylor" is technically a brand of pork roll, in regions of North and Central Jersey, all brands of pork roll may be referred to colloquially as "Taylor Ham" due to John Taylor branding his original pork roll as Taylor's Prepared Ham.
Origin and descriptionEdit
While a similar item, packed minced ham, may have been produced at the time of the Battle of Trenton, John Taylor is credited with creating his secret recipe for the product in 1856. George Washington Case, a farmer and butcher from nearby Belle Mead, New Jersey, later created his own recipe for pork roll in 1870. Case's was reportedly packaged in corn husks.
Taylor originally called his product "Taylor's Prepared Ham", but was forced to change the name after it failed to meet the new legal definition of "ham" established by the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. Marketed as both "Taylor's Pork Roll" and "Trenton Pork Roll", it saw competition from products with similar names like "Rolled Pork" and "Trenton style Pork Roll". When their makers were sued by Taylor, a 1910 legal case ruled that the words "Pork Roll" could not be trademarked.
In the 1910 lawsuit, it was described as "a food article made of pork, packed in a cylindrical cotton sack or bag in such form that it could be quickly prepared for cooking by slicing without removal from the bag." Larry Olmsted of USA Today has described the taste of the meat as "a cross between Canadian bacon and bacon, less hammy and smoky than Canadian, fattier and saltier than bacon, with a unique texture, both crispy and slightly mushy."
Companies that make pork roll include Taylor (under the Taylor and Trenton brands), Case's Pork Roll, Loeffler's Gourmet, Hatfield Quality Meats and Alderfer Premium of Harleysville, Pennsylvania.
It is typically eaten as part of a sandwich, with popular condiments including pepper, ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, lettuce, butter and tomato. It is also incorporated in many other recipes, including a popular breakfast sandwich known in the region as a "Taylor ham, egg and cheese" or "pork roll, egg and cheese". in which fried pork roll is joined with a fried egg and American cheese and served on a hard roll, bagel or English muffin. New Jersey eateries noted for their Jersey Breakfast include Slater's in Middletown, and Starks United in Keansburg.
In popular cultureEdit
The Trenton Thunder minor league baseball team hosted their inaugural "Trenton Thunder World Famous Case's Pork Roll Eating Championship" on September 26, 2015. Joey Chestnut won the contest by eating 32 pork roll sandwiches in 10 minutes.
A song called "Pork Roll Egg and Cheese" appears on the album The Pod by Ween, locals of New Hope, Pennsylvania, referring specifically to a sandwich consisting of pork roll, egg and cheese on a kaiser roll. Several other songs by the band such as "Frank" also contain references to pork roll.
On May 15, 2016, President Barack Obama gave a commencement speech at Rutgers University's 250th graduation ceremony in which he referenced the "Taylor Ham vs. pork roll debate", saying, "I come here for a simple reason – to finally settle this pork roll vs. Taylor Ham question...I'm just kidding...There's not much I'm afraid to take on in my final year of office, but I know better than to get in the middle of that debate."
On October 28, 2020, Montana gubernatorial candidate Mike Cooney released a video of former New Jersey governor Chris Christie on the app Cameo requesting Cooney's opponent return to New Jersey. Christie, who had been tricked into recording the video by a Cooney aide, invoked pork rolls.
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- The Federal Reporter: With Key-number Annotations. Volume 180 (September - October 1910). p. 939. West Publishing Company (Saint Paul, Minnesota_. Google Books. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
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- "Two prominent local meat processors will merge". The Reporter (Denver, Colorado). July 8, 2008.
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- Cuccagna, Rich (September 26, 2015). "Joey Chestnut wins Trenton pork roll eating contest". NJ.com.
- "Case's Pork Roll Egg & Cheese Race (End of the 4th inning)". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
- "An Act designating the Taylor Ham, egg, and cheese sandwich as the New Jersey State Sandwich and supplementing chapter 9A of Title 52 of the Revised Statutes." Eustace, Tim (April 14, 2016). "Designates Taylor Ham, egg, and cheese as New Jersey State Sandwich.". New Jersey General Assembly No. 3667, 217th LEGISLATURE, State of New Jersey.
- Mueller, Mark (May 15, 2016). "Full text of President Obama's speech at Rutgers commencement". NJ.com.
- Bromwich, Jonah Engel; Ezra, Marcus (29 October 2020). "Chris Christie Makes Cameo Video For Montana Democrat (By Mistake)". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
- Rojas, Christina (May 21, 2015). "Trenton mayor declares 'Pork Roll Day' to coincide with Saturday festivals". The Times (Trenton).