North Jersey: the birthplace of the best bagels, the best diners, and most importantly, Meryl Streep. North New Jersey is not just a place, but it’s a way of life. We have a special set of customs, values, and dialects that our southern counterpart and other states don’t always understand, or agree with. Below are just ten of them that make people who grew up in North Jersey stand out from the rest.
1. We Have The Best Bagels
Growing up in Jersey, you don’t really appreciate how good you have it until you visit other states (except for New York, of course). Apparently, the difference in the water is the cause of other places’ inferior tasting bagels, which is why Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. came to be a thing, but I’m not buying it. Us Native North Jerseyans know that nothing they do would help them beat our bagels, especially when we’re the home of the best bagel shop in existence: Time For A Bagel (TFAB).
2. We Say We’re “Going Down The Shore”
In the summertime, no one in North Jersey says they’re “going to the beach.” No one really knows when this phrase became so common, nor does anyone ever question it, but I guess the reason why it started is the obvious one: we’re north of the Jersey Shore, so we “go down the shore.” Growing up, the “shore” I was referring to (and my favorite beach in Jersey) was Long Branch.
I recently found out that the only other place that uses an even remotely similar idiom is Baltimore. Rather than saying they’re “going to the beach,” they use the phrase, “going down the ocean!”
3. “Central Jersey” Is A Myth
The state is only split into two: North and South. North and South Jersey are two very different places. We definitely don’t agree on a lot of things, but one thing we both know is that “Central Jersey” just doesn’t exist.
4. Dunkin Is Better Than Starbucks
Dunkin Donuts is the superior coffee chain. Thankfully, North Jersey understands and embraces that. Not only is Dunkin better than Starbucks when it comes to overall taste and pricing, but they also have doughnuts.
Until Starbucks starts making strawberry frosted doughnuts with sprinkles, I don’t feel like I need any other argument!
5. No One Actually Says “Joisey” Or “Wuder”
I’m not positive where this originated from, but absolutely no one in North Jersey says pronounces “Jersey” as “Joisey.” Some natives blame New York for starting and perpetuating the stereotype that we pronounce Jersey that way, but we want people from out of state to know that when they say, “Oh you’re from Joisey?” we don’t laugh. We cringe.
Also, only people from South Jersey say “wuder.” Up in North Jersey, we say “water” like everybody else!
6. It Is NOT Called Pork Roll.
Although people from South Jersey insist on calling this delicious meat, “Pork Roll,” the correct name is, and always will be, Taylor Ham. What every sane New Jerysan can agree on, however, is that this is the best thing to have on a breakfast sandwich. Taylor Ham, Egg, and Cheeses are SO good.
7. You Live Close to Reality TV Stars
Love them or hate them, Reality TV stars exist and they are closer than you think. Personally, I find it exciting that Theresa Giudice (The Real Housewives of New Jersey), Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi (The Jersey Shore), and Kevin Jonas (Married to Jonas, Jonas Brothers!!!) all reside in North Jersey. I know there many North Jersey natives who aren’t very happy though because of the “bad” reputation some of them have given us.
8. You Go To The Diner A Lot
Diners are loved dearly by all New Jerseyans, but the ones up North are the best. There’s Brookside (who I love and miss dearly), Randolph, Tick Tock, Tops, Caldwell and the list goes on. They are the go-to place for after school, after Homecoming, sports’ practices, and pretty much everything else. They never failed to provide comfort, through the food they served and the atmosphere they created.
And on days off from school, it was always fun meeting up with your best friends at the diner for a late breakfast!
9. Quickchek Over Wawa
There are Quickcheks on practically every corner in North Jersey, yet barely any Wawas, so some argue that we prefer them by default; but, the convenience aspect is only one reason why people who grew up in North Jersey find that Quickchek is better than Wawa. Quickcheks have great deals on snacks and other food items ($3 sub sandwiches!), they’re always clean, and the F’real milkshakes they have there are top-notch.
10. Italians Are Everywhere
There is a huge Italian population in North Jersey, so even if you’re not Italian, you most likely know at least five people who are. As a result, Italian culture is evident and thriving; there are different Italian organizations people can join, parades to march in, and festivals to attend. There’s also an abundance of Italian restaurants, delis, bakeries, and pizzerias. If you’re ever in the Morris County area, I’d recommend stopping at Godfather’s in East Hanover, or Nonna’s in Parsippany! You definitely won’t leave hungry!
BONUS: Jersey Pride Is Real And Thriving
I have to admit that it took me moving over 1000 miles away from North Jersey to finally realize how much I actually enjoyed growing up there. The old saying, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone” actually rings true (at the very least, partially). New Jersey has so many things to be proud of. It’s the birthplace of Frank Sinatra, Bon Jovi, and Bruce Springsteen. There’s the Jersey Shore (the actual shore, not the show). It’s called the Garden State for a reason; our tomatoes, blueberries, and sweet corn are the best of the best. And most importantly, North New Jersey has the best bagels you will ever have. Seriously, if you’re still living in North Jersey, DO NOT take them for granted!
So even I might not miss it enough to move back, but now when someone asks me where I’m from, I answer with pride: “New Jersey.”