New Jersey locals have a lot of pride when it comes to their state's most iconic foods. One of the most famous regional specialities dates back to 1856, when John Taylor pioneered his recipe of pork, salt, sugar, and spices and sold it as Taylor's Prepared Ham.
Taylor's recipe is evocative of other processed meats like bologna and Spam, but its salty-sweet flavor and slightly coarse texture separates it from the rest. The Pure Food and Drug Act determined in 1906 that this processed meat didn't count as ham, so Taylor rebranded, and the name pork roll was born.
Despite the name change, New Jerseyites remain in the middle of a fierce debate over what to call the meat product. If you're based in the northern part of the state, odds are you call it by its original name, Taylor ham. For restauranteur John Yarusi and other people in South Jersey, it is, and always will be, pork roll.
When Yarusi first opened Johnny's Pork Roll as a food truck almost a decade ago, he only served the sandwich the classic way: slices of griddled pork roll, American cheese, and eggs on a roll. Fast forward, and now Johnny's Pork Roll has since expanded to a brick-and-mortar shop in Red Bank, New Jersey, near their iconic truck.
They've also bulked up the menu to include 11 sandwiches, all featuring pork roll as the star. Whether it's with pineapple and Sriracha, coleslaw and barbecue sauce, or even sauerkraut and Russian dressing, Johnny's Pork Roll makes the ultimate sandwich to cure a hangover or just start the day right.
Check out the video above to see how Yarusi builds his signature sandwiches and learn more about this porky part of New Jersey history.