16 Tasty Moments in New Jersey Food History

A timeline of delicious innovations, from Taylor ham to Kohr’s Frozen Custard.

1856 

John Taylor of Hamilton Square creates recipe for Taylor ham (later renamed pork roll)
North and South Jersey have been disputing nomenclature ever since. 

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1885

Joseph Fralinger popularizes salt water taffy
The 1-pound box becomes the signature Atlantic City souvenir.

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1897

Campbell’s introduces canned, condensed soup
Tomato was the first flavor. Andy Warhol immortalized the red-and-white can in 1962.

1900

Clam Broth House opens in Hoboken
Etiquette at the bar was to throw clamshells on the tile floor, then step aside every so often as a pale, elderly gent came through with a push broom. Women weren’t allowed to dine at the Clam Broth House until 1972. 

Photo by Erik Rank

1912

Pizza arrives in NJ as Joe Papa fires up tomato pies in Trenton
Papa’s remains the longest continuously operated family-owned pizzeria in the United States. 

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1916

Beginning of blueberry cultivation
Elizabeth White’s cultivated strains turned what Pine Barrens residents had enjoyed as “swamp huckleberries” into what is now NJ’s biggest cash crop, $74.4 million in 2014.

Photo by James Worrell

1919

Kohr Bros. invent frozen custard
Though the family enterprise would split, the orange floats and swirl cones endure, and not just at the Shore.

1928

Birth of the “ripper” dog
Abe Rutt deep-fried his way into hot-dog history at Rutt’s Hut in Clifton.

Photo by Frank Marshal

1938

Summit Diner opens
The Golden Age of Jersey Diners ensues, peaking in the early 1950s. The Summit, a railroad-car design by the pioneering Jerry O’Mahony Co. of Elizabeth, is still going strong. 

1941

M&Ms hit the market
Forrest Mars and Bruce Murrie introduced the plain variety in Newark. M&Ms were included in G.I. rations because they wouldn’t melt in hot climes. 

1946

White House Sub Shop opens
Anthony Basile and family’s Atlantic City eatery took the spear-shaped sandwich from novelty to necessity. 

1967

Chicken Savoy invented at Belmont Tavern
Credit Charles “Stretch” Verdicchio with creating the Belleville restaurant’s signature vinegar chicken, the recipe for which remains a secret. 

2000

Craig Shelton’s giant leap
Shelton, considered a founder of the farm-to-table movement, put the Ryland Inn on the culinary map as he earned a Beard Award as Best Chef/Mid-Atlantic. He was the first New Jersey chef so honored. 

Photo by Laura Baer

2007

Tony Soprano, finis at Holsten’s
At the Bloomfield ice cream parlor, Tony’s booth is now a tourist attraction.

2012

Maricel Presilla bags a Beard
Named Best Chef/Mid-Atlantic, first of her now three Beard Awards. Other accomplishments? A PhD. in medieval Spanish history and first Latin-American woman to be a guest chef at the White House.

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2013

Craft beer bill takes effect
The bill popped the top on a boom that so far has grown to 114 craft breweries. Yet restrictions apply: Breweries can’t serve food and are barred from selling beer to visitors who haven’t taken a tour of the facility. 

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