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New Jersey's Pork Roll/Taylor Ham Debate Gets Political

Donald Trump supporter Chris Christie weighs in

Helen Rosner

New Jersey's pork roll versus Taylor ham debate is as heated as ever, NPR's The Salt reports. It's an argument close to the heart of many New Jerseyans, effectively dividing the state: Is their favorite processed pork product a "pork roll" or a "Taylor ham"? (Don't recall the nuances of this encased meat, responsible for sustaining the bellies and souls of the Garden State? Review Eater's guide to the pork roll/Taylor ham.)

Taylor Provisions is the originator of the pork product, which it first named "Taylor's Prepared Ham." But the pork product didn't meet the definition of "ham" designated by the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. And thus, the confusion. The product became "John Taylor's Original Taylor Pork Roll," which Northern Jersey nicknamed "Taylor ham" and Southern and Central Jersey, "pork roll."

The debate is contentious and deeply political. NPR notes the USDA still prefers "pork roll." But Governor Chris Christie was born in Newark, N.J., situated in the Northern — and therefore "Taylor ham" half of the state. "I just declared it right now," he said on his radio show. "I may do an executive order on this. It's Taylor Ham, egg, and cheese. Of course it is." Christie is referring to the pork roll/Taylor breakfast sandwich, a ubiquitous preparation of the pork product. State Assemblyman Tim Eustace is in the process of sponsoring legislation to make this dish New Jersey's official state sandwich, but the name it will legally take is yet to be determined.

Even Obama acknowledged the pork fight recently, according to NPR. "I come here for a simple reason: to finally settle this pork roll versus Taylor Ham question," the President said in his commencement speech to the Rutgers University class of 2016. He neglected to pick a side; doing so would have been risky business.

Which will triumph; Taylor ham or pork roll, North Jersey or South? Perhaps it will soon come to a vote.