Stolen Taylor Ham Sparks Brawl in NJ

Dude, don’t touch my sandwich!

By Ethan L. Johns
October 03, 2017

Image: Ethan L. Johns

In New Jersey, there is one thing that you should never mess with. It’s a food item so beloved and so controversial in its own right, that the state’s caricature of a governor once claimed he was going to issue an executive order to officially name it. That food item is Taylor Ham, and on Monday in Hackettstown, NJ, it caused quite a tussle.

According to a press release posted to the Hackettstown Police Department’s Facebook page, officers responded at 2:45 a.m. on Monday morning to reports of a fight that had broken out “over stolen Taylor Ham.” After noting that the dispute may have been started over some beer, and after seeing the victim’s injuries, which included abrasions and facial swelling, the officer arrested the 19-year-old instigator, who was later charged with simple assault.

A food worth fighting over? Absolutely. At 2:45 a.m., nothing is going to soak up the sorrows of a long night of drinking like a greasy, salty Taylor Ham sandwich. Like Provel Cheese from St. Louis or Buckeyes from Ohio, this glorious NJ mystery meat is not well known outside of its state of origin. Most similar to Spam or scrapple in constitution, John Taylor’s “Original Taylor Pork Roll” is a processed meat product made in Trenton, NJ, by Taylor Provisions. The name was changed from “Taylor Ham” to “Pork Roll” in 1906 to satisfy the requirements of Roosevelt’s Pure Food and Drug Act, since the product didn’t actually fit the definition of “ham.” Folks in the north of the state stuck with the old name, whereas those in the south adopted the new one. Perhaps this debate was what really sparked the fight in Hackettstown.

A Taylor Ham breakfast sandwich is generally served on a kaiser roll, although it can also be had on a New Jersey bagel (which is arguably superior to a New York bagel, a Montreal bagel and whatever you might think a Los Angeles bagel is). If you can’t easily travel to an NJ greasy spoon diner or bagel shop, you can order the stuff online. If you do, your life will never be the same, much like the criminal record of our friend, the 19-year-old Taylor Ham assailant.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns