New Jersey is the birthplace of many inventions and innovations that Americans couldn’t imagine living without today.
FIRST BASEBALL GAME
Hoboken is the birthplace of modern baseball (about 70 years before it became the birthplace of Frank Sinatra). The country’s first organized game took place in 1846 at Elysian Fields, where the New York Nine beat the Knickerbockers.
The inaugural batch of the chocolate candies was made in a Newark factory in 1941. Since 1958, the M&M’s factory has been located in Hackettstown; today, it operates as one of three plants in the United States that produces M&M’s (more than 400 million annually). The North American headquarters for Mars Wrigley is also located in Newark (in the Ironside building); it returned to New Jersey from Chicago in 2020.
The Camden Drive-In opened its doors on June 6, 1933. Sadly, it closed three years later, but not before giving birth to a beloved American tradition.
The Campbell’s factory in Camden put out the first jar of ready-to-eat soup, Beefsteak Tomato, in 1895—a perfect ode to the Jersey tomato. Two years later, the process of condensing soup came along, allowing for smaller packaging in the form of the soup cans we all know and heat today.
FIRST LIGHT BULB
Thomas Edison, who had labs in Menlo Park and West Orange, created some of the most important inventions ever, all in New Jersey, including the light bulb, the automatic telegraph, the phonograph and the movie camera.
FIRST MISS AMERICA PAGEANT
Miss Washington, DC, Margaret Gorman, won the 1921 pageant in Atlantic City. The pageant’s archives are housed in a secret storage facility in Atlantic County.
FIRST SALTWATER TAFFY
The Shore staple dates back to Atlantic City in the 1880s; John Ross Edmiston invented it.
An employee of Johnson & Johnson, headquartered in Jersey, came up with the idea for the Band-Aid in 1920. It clearly stuck.
FIRST NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
Morristown National Historical Park encompasses the site of George Washington’s headquarters and Fort Nonsense in Morristown, Jockey Hollow in Morris Township and the NJ Brigade/Cross Estate in Harding.
Want to see more of our state’s biggest, boldest and one-of-a-kind feats and wonders? Check out New Jersey Monthly’s Book of Records.
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