Even Store Brand Cereal Boxes Make Fun of New Jersey

Posted June 11, 2017 by armpitnj
Categories: Food

Tags: , ,

Everyone loves to make fun of New Jersey, and it’s no surprise that the Armpit of America has long been the butt of everyone’s jokes. While negative comments about the state are typically relegated to pop culture or conversations with those from out of state, hate for New Jersey can also be found in the unlikeliest of places: a cereal box.

My discovery came from a recently purchased box of store brand cereal (don’t judge me), in particular, Shoprite brand bran flakes (again, don’t judge me). On the back of the box is this whole trivia thing about American cities:

cereal 1

In that left-side panel is a quiz about city nicknames, listing the nickname of a city and offering two possible answers. One city nickname presented is”Hornet’s Nest,” with the two choices being Charlotte, North Carolina and none other than Newark, New Jersey.

cereal 2

Obviously, the answer is Charlotte – and that name isn’t just because of the basketball team. The city first earned the moniker during the Revolutionary War when it was known as a “hornet’s nest of rebellion.”

But whoever designed this box took a swipe at New Jersey by making Newark the other option. Unless you live in Charlotte, a hornet’s next is a terrifying thing to encounter, and something you’d want to stay the hell away from. Sure, Newark might not have the best reputation, between the city itself and its namesake airport, but to call it a hornet’s nest? I’d say it’s more of a beehive – might be a little scary, but there is some good stuff inside.

Exploring the Urban Nature of North Jersey

Posted April 29, 2017 by armpitnj
Categories: Armpit Adventures, Uncategorized

Think of the biggest stereotypes of New Jersey – overcrowding, factories spewing out pollution, a mess of traffic-choked highways, garbage dumps, etc. While this is what most of the world thinks about the Armpit of America, it is totally wrong – except when it comes to the northeastern corner of the state. I’m exaggerating of course, but the area of New Jersey across from New York City isn’t exactly the first place that comes to mind when you want to spend the day in nature. But you’d be totally wrong for thinking that.

I recently explored Richard W. DeKorte Park, right in the middle of the New Jersey’s Meadowlands – an area now more famous for its sports and entertainment venues rather than the wetlands for which it was named. Now I would say that the park provides a nice escape from all of the New Jerseyishness of being in New Jersey, but it’s all still there, just pushed into the background. And somehow, despite having all the highways, factories, powerlines, and buildings in view and all the associated noise within earshot, it just adds to the experience rather than detracting from it.

 

meadowlands 1

The park consists of multiple walking bridges built right over the wetlands, allowing you to see fish swimming around the water and birds flying all around. But it’s not just the birds flying overhead – you’ll see countless planes making their way to or from Newark Airport. And amid the rustling of the tall grasses, you’ll hear the whistle of the train coming by.  Moreover, the whole scene is framed by New Jersey’s endless network of highways. Not sure why, but it all makes sense.

meadowlands 2

 

Maybe that’s because the area has always been impacted by humans, and nature has always had to adapt. Wikipedia tells me that before the Meadowlands were actually made up of their namesake meadowlands, it was full of cedar forests, which the early Dutch settlers cleared away to grow salt hay. And since then, the area has been treated as a garbage dump by every group of people who passed through.

Still, Mother Nature persisted. The result is an urban yet natural landscape that can only be found in New Jersey.

Born to Run….Back to New Jersey!

Posted March 23, 2017 by armpitnj
Categories: Uncategorized

I heart njAfter living on Long Island for the past four years, I am beyond thrilled to formally announce that I am moving back to New Jersey. Yes, it’s really happening. In just a few weeks.

Actually, I am already officially a resident of the Armpit of America once again, having done the dirty work at the DMV (or MVC as NJ calls it) earlier this week. And I’m not usually one to believe in “signs” or spiritual stuff, but the first song I heard on the radio upon leaving the DMV MVC with my new New Jersey driver’s license and license plates was “Born to Run” – clearly that was the work of a higher power.

Though the wife and I had been talking about moving back for a while, the urge became clear once we welcomed our son into the world a few months ago.  With our families being either two, or three and a half, hours away, it’s been difficult for him to see his grandparents. And every time we make the trip to Jersey, we have to pack up half the house. Also, I want my kid off of Long Island before he starts talking – I’d never forgive myself if he were to start speaking with that Lawn Guyland accent.

I’ll be honest – although I like to complain about Long Island a lot, there were a lot of great things about living here.  We got to be closer to my grandmother during her final years, hang out with some wonderful relatives who live nearby a lot more often, and made some good friends. And while I’m thrilled to be moving back to the promised land, there are some things about this place that I will really miss. Like grandma pizza (sorry, pizza places in New Jersey just don’t get it right), the wineries on the North Fork (such a great setting compared to NJ’s wine country in South Jersey) and the ability to buy beer at every single grocery store, pharmacy, and gas station.

Despite these benefits, my heart is, always was, and forever will be in New Jersey. And now it’s time to come home.

Years ago, back in the glory days when I was living in an oceanfront apartment in Belmar, some friends and I spent a night on the balcony playing the board game “Escape From New Jersey!” And in the blog post recapping this adventure, I lamented how the game is impossible to win – just like in real life, there is no escape from the Armpit of America. However, having actually escaped for four years, I couldn’t be happier to be back. And I don’t plan on escaping ever again.

 

Ready for “Jersey Shore: The Next Generation”?

Posted February 20, 2017 by armpitnj
Categories: Jersey Shore, MTV's "Jersey Shore"

Tags: , , , ,

I think it’s fair to assume that the attention and buzz around MTV’s “Jersey Shore” has officially flickered out. When was the last time you heard anything about Snooki or the Situation? And when has any late night talk show host cracked a joke about them? And while New Jersey was the butt of everyone’s jokes during the show’s 2009-2012 run, even that has died down.

I think it’s safe to say that the orange grease balls who made up the show’s cast have finally faded back into the faceless obscurity from which they emerged. And the scene of the crime, Seaside Heights, has finally recovered after dealing with the aftermath of the show, Hurricane Sandy, and a nasty boardwalk fire, reclaiming its title as a family-friendly shore town – or so those poor residents thought!

According to our friends at NJ.com, there may be a new “reality” show taking place in Seaside. The infamous club that the “Jersey Shore” cast frequently frequented, Bamboo, posted a casting call for a new show – “I Love Summer.” Specifically, they’re looking for “loud and fun” people, which obviously has residents and officials ready to fight back and save their town from reliving the attention and embarrassment MTV already bestowed upon them.

So is the world ready to watch a bunch of loud New Yorkers making idiots of themselves at the Jersey Shore once again? I think so. Just consider this birthday card (created by New Jersey’s own Designer Greetings) I bought the day before hearing about the new show:

jersey-shore-card

I was pretty confused upon seeing it – seemed like something that should have been on the shelves back in 2010/2011 at the height of Snooki and friends’ popularity. Who aside from second rate bloggers looking for inspiration for a quick and easy blog post would buy such a thing? Why would Designer Greetings put out the card now?? Why would a small grocery store chain on Long Island carry such a thing???

I take it all as a sign that after a few quiet years, the world is indeed ready to make the Armpit of America everyone’s punching bag once again. And if  “I Love Summer” actually comes to fruition, that will surely happen. And you know I’ll be watching it…and writing about it.

Three Jars and a Bottle of Jersey

Posted January 27, 2017 by armpitnj
Categories: Belmar, Reviews

Tags: , , , , , ,

Hard to believe, but it’s been nearly four years since I left my beloved New Jersey. Since then, I’ve collected numerous things to remind me of the Armpit of America and comfort me as I get nostalgic for the state’s litter-strewn highways, chemical vapor-filled skies and golden but dirty shores. So join me as I break into four cherished mementos, in the form of Jersey-flavored tomatoes, alcohol and wax!

Jar #1 – Ethnic Cottage Jersey Tomato Sauce

tomato-sauce

Purveyors of internationally flavored products like Indian and Thai sauces, Ethnic Cottage decided to cover a new ethnicity, Jersey-Italian, with its line of four Jersey tomato sauces, including the pictured marinara. I was pretty surprised by the ingredient list, comprised of just tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, salt and seasonings, and no sugar, no chemicals and no weird thickeners. The result is a great tasting sauce that tastes like some little Italian grandmother made it herself. Sure, if you like your tomato sauce to be overly sweet and salty, you might not enjoy this. But if you want a tomato sauce without any weird additives and in which you can actually taste every individual ingredient, give Ethnic Cottage a try! Read the rest of this post »

Some New Jersey “Nursery Rhymes”

Posted September 24, 2016 by armpitnj
Categories: NJ Personalities, politics

Tags: , , , , , ,

New Jersey is home to so many heroes and villains, myths and monsters, making it the perfect inspiration for nursery rhymes! Here are my attempts to memorialize the Armpit of America in nursery rhyme form.

Please note: I don’t recommend actually reading these to kids, especially that last one…

 

A Man Named Christie

There once was a man named Christie
Who ruled his state with an iron fist-y
His temper would erupt
And his actions, corrupt
But deep down, he was just a big sissy.

 

Always Second Best

This is the story of a boy named Jon
Last name, Jovi – his middle name, Bon
He left his small New Jersey town
Trying to become the best singer around

So he put together a band and grew his hair real big
And soon he was getting gig after gig
He wanted to be the biggest star from his state
Anything less than that, he would hate

Little Jon made the charts with many a song
About working class heroes and girls who done him wrong
But there was someone who did this all much better
From his shadow, Jon couldn’t get unfettered

Against this man, he counted many a loss
How could he ever win against a guy called The Boss?
Try as he might, his songs were never as good
And he started to wonder if give up music he should

But his career is nothing to laugh at or reason to be sad
Anyone with his success should certainly be glad
And as he stood there on stage in his black leather vest,
Jon thought to himself, “Maybe it’s not so bad, to be second best”

Read the rest of this post »

Top 5 Pokemon You’d Find in New Jersey

Posted August 31, 2016 by armpitnj
Categories: Top 5

Tags: , , ,

It’s pretty amazing how Pokemon Go continues to take the world by storm. What’s even more amazing is that the Pokemon franchise is still around. What started as a game for the primitive Game Boy console 20 years ago has spawned a TV show, movies and a media empire that still excites everyone. Not even the other video game veterans like our favorite Italian plumber, a boomerang-throwing elf, a blue hedgehog or a barrel-tossing gorilla can boast the level of popularity that Pokemon continually enjoys.

But as the franchise evolved, its creators expanded the list of Pokemon from the original beloved set of 150 weird little monsters to now more than 700. And you can tell they’re running out of ideas, with newer-generation Pokemon like Chandelure – an anthropomorphic light fixture, or Vanillite – a smiling ice cream cone. Even in a world where children roam around unsupervised hunting animals, imprisoning them in little balls, and making them fight against each other, Chandelure and Vanillite force you to stretch your imagination a little too far.

Anyway, this is supposed to be a blog about New Jersey. So what the hell does Pokemon have to do with the Armpit of America? Not much, to be honest. However, I thought it would be fun to make a list of the Pokemon most likely to inhabit our favorite state. And don’t worry – they’re all from the first generation Pokedex.

1. Caterpie010Caterpie

This cute little guy is the Pokemon world’s version of a caterpillar. His real-world brethren aren’t nearly as adorable. Drive down the Parkway in the summer and you’ll notice many of the trees covered in caterpillar nests. Although Caterpie will eventually evolve into the equally adorable Butterfree, the New Jersey versions just become ugly moths.

600px-067Machoke.png

 

 2. Machoke

These things look like body builders with lizard heads, and certainly wouldn’t be out of place at the Jersey Shore. Machoke is the Pokemon version of the guido if you will, complete with spiky hair, arm tattoos, and the need to compensate for a clear lack of a bulge in the crotch area.

 

109Koffing

3. Koffing

Koffing is like a floating ball that farts out toxic gases – just like the many factories throughout the state polluting our sky and water.

 

 

088Grimer

 

 

4. Grimer

According to this source, Grimer is “a slimy, amorphous blob-like Pokémon, made of living purple sludge. Its body contains a variety of pungent bacteria…” So pretty much a poisonous slimeball – New Jersey has more than it’s fair share of those (e.g., any of the husbands from Real Housewives of New Jersey).

 

143Snorlax

5. Snorlax

The largest of all Pokemon, you are most likely to see a Snorlax sitting on his throne in the governor’s mansion in Trenton, or on the campaign trail trying to get another poisonous slimeball elected president (no offense to Grimer).