I miss Taylor Ham

Okay, you need some background so you have the context.

The Washington Post publishes a free tabloid-format newspaper called Express. They give it out for free all over the DC Metro area, primarily to commuters. There’s a guy handing them out every morning at the Rockville station when I get off the MARC and go to the Metro. In fact, there’s pretty much a person or three in every Metro station handing them out.

It consists primarily of abbreviated articles from the previous day’s Post, as well as a bunch of lifestyle kind of articles, odd and amusing news items, and so on. The “Reader’s Digest version” of the Washington Post, if you will, without any of that editorializing.

So, I’m reading my copy this morning, and there’s a brief Q&A with Kevin Smith. With Clerks II just in the theatres it makes sense that he’s being interviewed, of course. I have enjoyed all of Kevin Smith’s movies in the “View Askewniverse“. Maybe because I’m from New Jersey? Partly. They are generally too damn funny and I know plenty of people just like his characters.

One of the questions, or more accurately, his answers, stopped me in my tracks:

This movie deals with the fear of leaving New Jersey. What do you miss most about Jersey?

Pork roll, egg and cheese.

Holy crap! I’m not alone!

I lived my entire live in New Jersey until last fall, when I pulled up stakes and moved me and my entire family down to Maryland so I could take a job in DC. We like it down here, but we’ve discovered, to our chagrin, that not only do the very few diners down here not stay open 24 hours, but none of them have pork roll on the menu. (Taylor Ham is a brand-name of pork roll made by Taylor Provisions of Trenton, New Jersey. It is by far the best pork roll you can get. To many people “taylor ham” is synonymous with “pork roll”, genericized not unlike “Kleenex” or “Xerox”. Just don’t expect to buy any old pork roll and expect it to be as good as Taylor Ham.)

Ah, you’re still wondering what is so compelling about pork roll, egg and cheese. So was the interviewer. I’ll include Kevin’s response:

What is that?

If you go to any diner in Jersey, they have it. But if you go off the East Coast, you can’t find it anywhere. It’s made with nasty compressed ham and it looks like a big zit. It’s similar to an Egg McMuffin, but instead of being on a muffin, it’s on a hard roll. And the ham is probably made from the worst part of the pig. Me and Jason Mewes [who plays his partner Jay] were raised on them, so it’s the first thing we eat when we get back.

Not just off the East Coast, Kevin, because I’m still on the East Coast and I can’t get them here. It’s probably a Northeast thing. And boy, am I craving one now.

Like I said, I like it down here. It’s much more rural where I’m living (about an hour from DC), people are friendlier, and the pace of life is ever so slightly slower. But I do miss my pork roll, egg and cheese. And good pizza. Nobody makes a decent pizza around here (although I did recently hear a radio spot for a pizzeria claiming that their pies were the best “this side of New Jersey”). Haven’t tried any of the Chinese food around here, mostly because I’m not big on Chinese food. Haven’t seen a single Jewish deli, either.

Darn it, now I’m homesick. And hungry.


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Geek. Gamer. Dad. Husband. Beer drinker. Football fan. Blogger.

38 thoughts on “I miss Taylor Ham”

  1. Keep searching… It took me 15 years to find Jersey like pizza and deli’s. I’ve been in upstate NY for 20 years and I still can’t find a real bakery. My Mom brings me a Russian Rye everytime she visits… thanks Mom!

  2. Can’t go painting Maryland with the broad brush that living in the boonies of western Maryland (They don’t call it “Fredneck” for nothing) may lead you to believe the whole state is like. Baltimore, for instance, has at least six 24-hour dining establishments, 4 in a five minute radius from my house and 2 down near the good beer. Also very good pizza, decent Chinese, and amazing Indian, Thai, and Ethiopian are available in tons of spots along the I-95 corridor between Baltimore and DC.

    That said, in all my years in NJ I don’t believe I ever had a pork roll, so you can take my advice with a grain of salt.

  3. There are plenty of places “around here”–and by “around here” I mean more than just Maryland–that are as suburbanized as much of the area of New Jersey where I’m from and there just aren’t that many 24-hour places. There aren’t any strip clubs either, although whether that says something about North-Central New Jersey or something about Western Maryland and the nearby areas of Virginia and West Virginia, I don’t know.

    Besides, I was lamenting the lack of Taylor Ham, not necessarily the diners. I can’t even get it in ANY supermarket.

    Not having had it, you’ve missed out on a unique New Jersey phenomenon. Scrapple just doesn’t have the same cachet.

  4. It took a couple years after leaving the Northeast before I found any pork roll of any brand down here in the Orlando area. When I finally found it I found the Tatlor brand in a small box presliced. I don’t think it is quite the same as the cloth covered log you buy up North. I found some other brand of the log version here in BJ’s. I never found Taylor in that form. I’m not really searching anymore since I live in a pork-free household now.

    The other pork I missed was good hot/sweet Italian sausage. I specifically liked the Hatfield brand. Even when I still ate pork I never found a really good brand down here. About six months ago, I picked up a sausage stuffer attachment for the food grinder for my Kitchen Aid mixer. I then picked up some artificial casing (which is actually made from beef hide) since natural casing in the size of Italian sausage is made from pig intestines. (hot dogs are from sheep and big fat summer sausage would be made from cow intestines) I ground up some beef and made my own Italian sausage pork free. I must say it tasted close enough to what I remember. I grilled it up with peppers and onions at the UCF game where we lost the championship to Tulsa last year. Hey, at least we made it for once. Next batch, I’ll turn up the spice heat some more.

  5. “Pork roll, egg and cheese.

    Holy crap! I’m not alone!”

    You’re definitely not alone, although if I left Jersey, it would be an Jimmy Buff’s Sausage with the works I’d miss most. I hear every day from people missing Taylor, Russian Rye, decent bagels, and Jersey pizza.

    I couldn’t find an email link for you but if you’d like, send me one, and nope, I’m not going to try to sell you some!

  6. I just moved to the West Coast, so it’s impossible to find the stuff out here. I’m considering just ordering it from the internet. Anybody try that?

  7. You can get a very tasty taylor ham, egg and cheese from MANHATTAN BAGEL. There are several around here, but they may be confused if you say “taylor” ham so just say ham.

  8. I grew up on the Jersey Shore but now live in Michigan. Every time I go back to NJ to see the family I make sure I bring extra $$ to stock up on pork roll. My husband(from MI) thought I was crazy until he tried it, now he complains when we are out.

  9. Yeah . Feel my pain I live in Nebraska now and they dont have a clue out here about anything that doesnt mooo. I just got back from NJ yesterday and i ate taylor ham sandwiches everyday I was there. I also had alot of Lodi pizza ( they filmed the sopranos in there once).Im gonna try and order taylor ham via the internet. i hope it tastes the same.

  10. …”and Jesus said to the fishermen”…let there be Porkroll, egg n’ cheeses for everyone..and there was a great gasp!! …whilst everyone peeled back the thin tinfoil and wax paper to expose the flowed encrusted hardroll, with the wetegg, american cheese and those beefy slices of nirvana…Taylor Ham

    truly one of the greatest foods ever produced by man in this millinium…

    Seriously folks, if you are ever drving up Route 202 North from Bucks County, stop at the Jet Deli in Bridgewater-Raritan…on a fresh Calandreia’s giant Portugese Roll, you will get 2 fresh eggs, 3 to 4 slices of hand cut crispy Taylor Ham and a coupla slices of land o’ lakes for 4 to 5 bucks… then go visit St’ Anns Church down the block and say a pray for Sgt. Basilone who his paint in a muralon the wall! Thank him for his sacrifice, …specifically that you can eat a monster like that without sharing it with 1 billion chinese!

  11. OMG….I’ve been living with a transplanted native of New Jersey our here in the corn fields of Illinois…. and I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard him bemoan the fact that he can’t find a decent hard roll, deli, or Taylor ham. The first time he mentioned Taylor ham I thought he meant “Virginia ham” but I was quickly corrected with essentially everything Wraithchild and all the previous respondents have written. I give up! I guess we’re ordering Taylor ham from the internet, since a trip back East is not in the cards this year!

  12. I just mentioned the other day about Taylor pork roll. We loved it with sliced cheese lettuce and tomato on toasted rye. I was born and raised in N>J>, my husband also. We are going to visit family in August. We will bring some back. Do you know if pork roll can be frozen.? Cant find it here in Iowa. Do you believe that, with all the hog farms here. IM BAFFLED.
    Marti W.

  13. I was also in NJ in August, I live in IL. now, I bought 12 lb of pork had it sliced and frozon portions sizes in a food save and froze it, it was great, just like being NJ all over again

  14. I grew up in NJ, and have lived for the past 5 years in Pensacola, FL. My family found a website http://www.porkrollexpress.com that will ship it to you.

    Today, I stopped in this really expensively snobby grocery store for unknown reasons and discovered they had a 1 lb. log of Taylor Ham!!!! I now love that grocery store for carrying my favorite food substance. I need to go buy every one they have and freeze them for the future.

    Now if only I could get real pizza, bagels, bread and Thomas Sweets Ice Cream, I’d be a happy girl.

  15. I hear ya. I just spent a long weekend with old friends, and passed through New Jersey on my way to upstate New York. I made sure to pick up a pound while I was there. It was the best breakfast I’ve had in a long time.

  16. I missed Taylor Pork Roll (ham) for many years after leaving New Jersey. They didn’t have it in Massachusetts or California. Amazingly, one chain in Texas had it at the deli counter. They didn’t have it in Wisconsin.

    However, we’ve found Taylor Pork Roll in 4-slice, 8-slice, and unsliced packages at Publix Supermarkets at opposite ends of Florida, 550 miles apart. (Okaloosa and Collier Counties) It’s because there are so many New Jersey transplants down here.

  17. Hey,

    I live in Nova and I almost passed out when I saw a small box of Taylor Ham in the bacon section of the local Giant Foodstore. Take a look if you have one near you.

  18. I’m in Lubbock Texas, and have yet to find any semi resemblance of Taylor Ham. It’s been almost 3 years now since my last taylor ham sandwich. Luckily I’ll be going back to Jersey for a visit this July, time to stock up!

  19. I too am a NJ transplant now living in Glendale, Arizona for the past 7 years. I work in the construction industry and the taylor ham, egg, and cheese on a Portuguese roll was my staple breakfast that I could pick up at any roach coach that stopped at a construction site. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good breakfast burrito, which is what I have had to switch to, but they don’t compare to the taylor ham. I just found that my local Fry’s supermarket carries Taylor ham and I just made me a sandwich for diner tonight. Now if I could just find a Portuguese roll.

  20. You know, I can’t get a decent roll down here either. What they call a kaiser roll is a pale imitation of the real thing, and ask for a portuguese roll and people look at you like you’re nuts.

  21. There are a few online businesses that sell pork roll aka Taylor Ham. I am out in Idaho and have been ordering from http://www.porkrollxpress.com for a few years now. Excellent customer service.

    They were even interviewed by the Associated Press a few times. Saw their article in one of our local papers and figured if the Associated Press wrote about them they must be a OK business and that they are!

  22. GO TO NJPORKROLL.COM. Sorry for yelling but anyone can have porkroll shipped to them.
    My nephews (who grew up in CA) loved it ever since they came to visit and I send it to them all the time.


  23. I understand completely! I found Taylor Ham at King Soopers (if you have it in Maryland) or you can just have a friend ship you some from Jersey and freeze it – easy enough… I hauled pizza back from Jersey to Colorado and it turned out like a big hard cracker because of the altitude – some things simply don’t translate…

    Good luck, Jersey girl!

  24. AHHH! Taylor Ham. I left Parsippany area over 25 years ago to live in western Pa. and sitll can smell it frying up in the pan.
    Some cheese and katsup on a Keiser roll. Last April when I was back for my mom’s funeral my brothers and I stop in at a small diner in Sussex for breakfast with Taylor Ham.
    Bought a couple of rolls in Stanhope and remembered I had left them in my daughter fridge halfway across Pa. I almost cried!!! Same deal as Wrathchild. Really bad imitations of Keiser rolls out here. Not too mention fresh beagles and N.Y pizza.

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