Pork roll (regionally known as Taylor Ham) is a pork-based processed meat originating and commonly available in New Jersey, Delaware and parts of Pennsylvania and Maryland. It was developed in 1856 by John Taylor of Trenton, New Jersey, and sold as "Taylor Ham". Other producers entered the market, and subsequent food labeling regulations required Taylor to designate it as a "pork roll" alongside their competitors.
Origin and description
While a similar item, packed minced ham, may have been produced at the time of the Battle of Trenton, John Taylor is credited with creating his secret recipe for the product in 1856. George Washington Case, a farmer and butcher from nearby Belle Mead, New Jersey, created his own recipe for pork roll in 1870. Case's was reportedly packaged in corn husks.
Taylor originally called his product "Taylor's Prepared Ham", but was forced to change the name after it failed to meet the new legal definition of "ham" established by the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. Marketed as both "Taylor's Pork Roll" and "Trenton Pork Roll", it saw competition from products with similar names like "Rolled Pork" and "Trenton style Pork Roll". When their makers were sued by Taylor a 1910 legal case ruled that the words "Pork Roll" could not be trademarked. In North Jersey, residents continue to use the term Taylor Ham, while South Jersey residents generally use the term "pork roll", with Central Jersey residents using a mix of the two.
In the 1910 lawsuit, it was described as "a food article made of pork, packed in a cylindrical cotton sack or bag in such form that it could be quickly prepared for cooking by slicing without removal from the bag." Some people compare the modern article's taste and/or texture to Treet, bologna sausage, mild salami, or US-style Canadian bacon.
Taylor and Trenton are the brand names for pork roll made by Taylor Provisions, of Trenton, New Jersey. Other companies making pork roll include crosstown rivals Case Pork Roll Company and Loeffler's Gourmet, as well as Hatfield Quality Meats of Hatfield, Pennsylvania, and Alderfer Premium Meats of Harleysville, Pennsylvania.
Pork roll is generally sold in 1, 1.5, and 3 lb. unsliced rolls packed in cotton bag, as well as 6 oz. boxes containing 4, 6, or 8 slices. Larger rolls and packages are available for food service customers. It is also sold at delicatessens, diners, lunch stands and food trucks in the region. It has also been a staple in public school cafeterias in New Jersey.
Pork roll is generally sliced and pan-fried or grilled, but can also be microwaved. It is commonly given one to four cuts along its outer edge to prevent the slices from curling in the middle and cooking unevenly.
It is typically eaten as part of a sandwich, with popular condiments including salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, lettuce, and tomato. It is also incorporated in many other recipes, notably a popular breakfast sandwich known in the region as a "Jersey Breakfast", "Taylor Ham, Egg, and Cheese", or "Pork Roll, Egg, and Cheese." In these fried pork roll is joined with a fried egg and American cheese and served on a hard roll or bagel. When a slice or two is put on top of a grilled hamburger it is referred to as a "Trenton Burger," in northern Jersey or, "Jersey Burger," in southern and central New Jersey.
Trenton, New Jersey held its Inaugural Pork Roll Festivalon May 24, 2014. The Trenton Pork Roll Festival, hosted by Trenton Social owner TC Nelson, and Official Annual Pork Roll Festival, hosted by Scott Miller's Pork Roll Productions LLC at Mill Hill Park. Both events were held on May 23, 2015.
- "The History of Pork Roll". Jersey Pork Roll.
- Greg Hatala. "Made in Jersey: Pork roll or Taylor ham, it's a favorite Garden State breakfast food". nj.com.
- How New Jersey Saved Civilization: Taylor Ham
- 1910 Court case regarding competitor's product name
- Taylor Pork Roll
- Case Pork Roll Company
- Pork roll: Where to find indigenous Jersey classic
- Alderfer's Pork Roll Sausage
- Blog entry with description of how to prepare Taylor ham
- Pork roll recipes Archived September 28, 2003 at the Wayback Machine
- Recipes from Case's
- The Trenton Pork Roll Festival