Clam chowder? Dylan Dreyer would rather have a pork roll sandwich.
The Today show co-host and meteorologist—who grew up in Manalapan—is keen to dispel those pesky rumors that she hails from New England.
“Everybody thinks I’m from Boston,” says Dreyer, 40, explaining that she’s married to a Bostonian, Brian Fichera, and that she worked on-air in Boston before joining NBC News in 2012. “I’m not from Boston, and I’m very proud to be from New Jersey. It’s the reason I am who I am.”
Dreyer’s childhood home, where she lived until leaving for college at Rutgers, was built on a wooded, 4-acre lot by her father, a mechanic by trade, her grandfather, and their friends.
She recalls early years playing outside with her two older brothers, picking tomatoes on the farm where her dad grew up (which is now part of the Manalapan Recreation Center), and spending summers in Manasquan at her grandmother’s Shore house. As for those pork roll, egg and cheese sandwiches, her dad cooked up homemade versions on weekends, “so we didn’t have to go to a store to buy them,” she tells New Jersey Monthly.
“We had a huge wrought-iron bell that my mom would ring [so we’d know it was] time to come home for dinner, because we’d be playing in the woods across the street or stealing apples from the apple orchard,” she remembers.
Dreyer—who was into softball and science in high school—recalls being fascinated by the weather from an early age. Years later, after studying meteorology, she watched Hurricane Sandy wreak havoc on Manasquan and then looked on in awe as the town recovered.
“We thought for sure everything that we knew and loved growing up was just destroyed forever. It’s so special that these places that I grew up with…came back stronger, and I have introduced them to my sons.”
It wasn’t until Dreyer went to Rutgers that she realized meteorology could be a realistic career path. She arrived as an engineering major but soon figured out she didn’t love engineering like the weather. Although she was only one of two female meteorology majors in the Class of 2003, “I never really thought, Oh I’m a girl in a male field.”
Dreyer chose Rutgers because of the in-state tuition and so she could be close to family.
She lived on campus but went home often and was able to keep her high school job at Jake’s Cree-Mee Freeze ice cream shop in Manalapan—which unexpectedly landed her a brush with fame when Sex and the City shot a scene there. In the 2002 episode “I Love a Charade,” Dreyer can be seen in the background as Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Berger (Ron Livingston) run into each other in what’s supposed to be the Hamptons, although it’s actually Jake’s.
These days, she’s more focused on weather and writing than scooping and acting.
Dreyer, who lives in New York City with her family, on October 12 released the children’s book Misty the Cloud: A Very Stormy Day (Random House Books for Young Readers, $18.99), the first in a series about weather and emotions. “The weather emulates our feelings so much,” Dreyer says.
The star—who gave birth to her third son, Russell James, on September 29—says learning science basics can also help take some fear out of thunderstorms for kids, like it did for her 4-year-old, Calvin.
She and Fichera, an NBC News cameraman, are also parents to son Oliver, who is almost 2 years old. They wed in 2012.
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