NEW JERSEY gets called the armpit of NYC. Then, there’s The Jersey Shore TV show. We get asked if we’re in the mafia and mocked for out terrible traffic, and hideous industrial parks. Be that as it may, New Jersey has a lot to be proud of.

1. Bagels

One thing I missed when traveling was a good bagel. New Jersey makes the best bagels in the entire United States — possibly the world.

2. Breakfast sandwiches

I don’t want any avocado toast or breakfast burritos. I want something that will plug my arteries and satisfy my true cravings. Pork roll (not Taylor ham), two eggs, and cheese on a bagel with salt, pepper, ketchup is all I need with my morning coffee.

3. Cranberries

New Jersey’s main export is Cranberries. We rank third behind Wisconsin and Massachusetts — which isn’t a problem because Wisconsin is known primarily for cheese, and Massachusetts for Mark Wahlberg — two things I like, but get along fine without.

4. Sarcasm

New Jerseyans don’t take any crap. Sarcasm is our go-to. After travelling around different countries, and even parts of the US, I found this sarcasm to be rude and shocking to some people who have never visited the Eastern US. In Jersey, if we make fun of you to your face, it’s because we’re comfortable enough with you to tease you — and we’re hoping you slam us right back.

5. Sinatra and The Boss

There are A LOT of famous people coming from Jersey, especially Frank Sinatra and Bruce Springsteen. Many of us claim to know someone who knows one of them. And yeah, we may be sick of hearing the same hits over and over again on the radio, but don’t you dare change the station. Show some respect.

6. The Jersey Shore

No, not the television show, for the love all things Jersey. The beach. A majority of our coastline is comprised of beaches and since the state is so small, we can go to the beach for the weekend and be back home by Sunday night. The further south you go, the less populated the beaches get. Some of my favorite beaches to go to on the weekend are Island Beach State Park (Seaside Park), Brigantine, and Sea Isle City.

7. Diversity

New Jersey is the top definition of a melting pot. We have immigrants from second and third generation Irish, Italian, German, Indian, Latin American, and Asian. My neighbors are Dutch, and a nice family from El Salvador lives up the road. We take pride that there are so many ethnic groups condensed into one tiny state. And a diverse population means great diverse places to eat.

8. “Jersey Fresh”

Our farm-fresh produce stands bearing the sign “Jersey Fresh” are set-up all around the state during spring and summer. Typically, they sell sweet corn, watermelon, and spinach, but you can find a whole lot more at one of our hundreds of bigger weekend farmers’ markets.

9. Proximity to Philadelphia and New York City

I live one hour away from NYC and one hour and 15 minutes away from Philly. The fact that we are so close to these cultural hubs, but can still escape to the countryside in a short drive makes many of us proud to live in New Jersey — despite the insane traffic getting in and out of either city.

10. Our universities

New Jersey is home to Princeton, Rutgers, TCNJ, Montclair, Stockton, Monmouth, Drew, Seaton Hall, Fairleigh Dickinson, Kean, and many other institutions of learning. And, we are the most densely populated state in the US, with loads of smart young men and women to study at them.

11. Our contribution to American history.

New Jersey was one of the original thirteen colonies. Our state has many historical battlegrounds, and historic American Revolution homes. So much of early American History occurred on New Jersey’s soil. It gives us a greater sense of who we are as New Jerseyans.

12. Diners

We have tons of roadside diners that are open 24 hours a day. We wouldn’t trade them in for any fancy sushi-kale nonsense. Bored at 2 AM and want pancakes? Any diner on the map is most likely open — just pick one and go.

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