Pork Roll or Taylor Ham? What’s the difference?


Gregory Castellano, Writer

The meat is a cornerstone of New Jersey culture, but why does it have two names?

New Jersey is known for many things, the Jersey Shore, the New Jersey Devils, and most importantly: Taylor Ham, otherwise known as pork roll. Although it’s a widely known delicacy, New Jerseyans cannot seem to decide what the name of the meat actually is. If you were to ask someone in North Jersey what it is called, they would likely say Taylor Ham, but if you were to do so in South Jersey, they would likely reply with pork roll. 

So what is the proper name for the pork product? Pork roll is the official name, although it was once known as Taylor Ham.

When pork roll was first put on the market in 1870, the creator, John Taylor, initially marketed his new pork meat as “Taylor Ham.” For more than three decades, the name stuck, until the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was passed, forcing foods to meet the legal definition of the name of what they were selling.

Since Taylor Ham was not exactly a “cured leg of pork” as the legal definition described, and was rather a shoulder of pork, Taylor was forced to change the name of his product. The new name that emerged from the new law was “pork roll”, and that has been the official name ever since 1906. Although the reason for the name pork roll was never officially stated, it is likely named as such due to its classic packaging.

Despite the official name being pork roll, some New Jerseyans swear on their lives to call the meat its original name of Taylor Ham. Whether you call it pork roll or Taylor Ham, the pork product remains the main ingredient in New Jersey’s official sandwich, and will be a part of NJ culture forever. 

What do you call it? Vote in the poll on the side of the front page!