The famous New Jersey debate of Taylor Ham v. Pork Roll

By Elijah Nevlin

For the last century, the state of New Jersey has been locked in a never-ending culinary debate. A debate full of passion, anger, delusion and lies. I am writing today to set the record straight and educate the Rider student body.

It is called Taylor ham.

Unfortunately, despite being so close to Trenton, New Jersey, Rider seems to be uneducated in the facts of this debate. Our campus is just four miles from Taylor Street in Trenton, named after Taylor ham inventor John Taylor, yet Muller’s Pub only sells “pork roll” sandwiches. Saxby’s does not sell the meat at all, which is blasphemous but understandable when you recognize it is a Pennsylvania chain and Pennsylvanians are simply ignorant to the topic at hand.

In an effort to be as scientific as possible, I conducted a poll on Fizz, a universitywide social media app where students post anonymously to others on campus.. I provided two options, pork roll and Taylor ham. To my dismay, 89% of respondents selected pork roll and only 11% selected Taylor ham. This disparity is shameful. I voted in my own poll and am proud to represent the 11%.

One cannot even look towards our leaders for guidance in these difficult situations, as Governor Phil Murphy has not chosen a side and instead claims a third name, Taylor Swift ham. This is obviously ridiculous and untrue, and this name should be wholly ignored. 

In order to resolve this issue, we must look to the historical facts. In 1856, John Taylor invented a new type of processed meat and sold it under the name of “Taylor’s Prepared Ham.” This form of Taylor ham thrived for fifty years, until the government intervened in 1906. In this year, the government passed the Pure Food and Drug Act, set to improve the quality and safety of food in the United States. 

In this important legislation, our own Taylor ham was caught in the crossfire.

According to the new law, Taylor ham no longer met the legal requirements to be considered ham. This statement is not a joke. The name of pork roll was only ever adopted by John Taylor and his company because their product legally was not ham. 

After this tragic alteration, much of South and Central New Jersey also began to call the processed meat pork roll. For whatever reason, presumably because they are smarter than us, North Jersey continued to call the product Taylor ham and still does today.

John Taylor died three years later in 1909. His official cause of death is lost to time, but one can only assume the heartbreak of seeing his creation’s name taken away to have played a part.

In his final years, John Taylor’s questionable processed meat product had its name ripped away on a legal technicality, and people still call the product pork roll to this day. I consider it disrespectful to Taylor’s legacy to refer to the product under this false name, as it represents a moment where government interference got in the way of something pure.

Did John Taylor die for us New Jerseyans? Probably not. But he certainly didn’t die for people to yell at me when I talk about eating Taylor ham, egg and cheese sandwiches in class. John Taylor rolls in his grave every time someone goes to Muller’s Pub and orders a “pork roll” egg and cheese. His ghost shed one tear for every person who chose “pork roll” in my Fizz poll.

I hereby call to action that Rider do better in honoring the legacy of the great John Taylor. The past is the past, but we have the opportunity to better ourselves in the future. We must forge the right path in life, and begin calling it Taylor ham. All of us, not just the ones who already know better. It’s the right thing to do to honor what John Taylor gave us.

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