Every corner of America has its own stereotypes – about the food, the weather, and the people who live there. South Jersey may have more stereotypes than most, but almost none of them are true. Let’s do some de-bunking, shall we?
We can’t drive
Ok, let’s get this straight. We aren’t aggressive drivers; we’re confident drivers. We have the highest population density of any state in the country, and that means lots of cars, so we’re always thinking three steps ahead. We’re not cutting you off; we’re just putting ourselves in position for the next maneuver. Plus, we’ve got to be pretty heads-up when it comes to sign reading, since we have to turn right to go left (more on that later).
We’re New York sports fans
Hard nope. We’re Philly fans all the way. We love our Fightin’ Phils and our Broad Street Bullies, and whether we were 8 or 80 when it happened, a championship parade down Broad Street is one of our best memories. Oh, and repeat after me: E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!
We’re bad fans
Philly fans get a bad rap, but we don’t always deserve it. Yes, we get pretty fired up about our teams. But when you’ve had to wait as long between championships as we have, that’s to be expected. And, ok, so we threw snowballs at Santa that one time but if we’re being honest, Santa kind of deserved it. There are plenty of great stories about Philly fans that go underreported, like the guy who carried his late wife’s ashes to the Eagles’ first ever Superbowl parade this year, and the young fans and police officers who banded together to show him a great time.
We’re from “Joisey”
Whenever we’re far from home and we tell people where we’re from, someone inevitably says, “Oh! Joisey!” You could live in South Jersey all your life and never, ever, not even once, hear someone pronounce it like that. Not even those of us with a super strong accent. Speaking of which…
We have a weird accent
Yeah, this one’s true. It’s called Hoagiemouth (only we can call it that, it’s an insult when you say it), and unless you’re Tina Fey, you won’t be able to correctly mimic it, so don’t try. And please don’t laugh at us when we offer you a glass of wooder (water), or a beggel (bagel), or tell you we need to run to the Ack-a-me on Wens-dee (don’t worry about it).
Look, we don’t claim responsibility for anything Snooki, JWoww and “The Situation” did on MTV over the years. More than half the cast of that show isn’t even from Jersey, and they definitely aren’t representative of our beach towns, which, by the way, are consistently ranked among the best places in the country to take a family vacation.
We only listen to Bruce and Bon Jovi
Sure, we love our hometown rockstars, but those two aren’t our only claim to musical fame. We also gave the world Whitney Houston, Lauryn Hill, Paul Simon, Dionne Warwick, My Chemical Romance, Karen O, Blues Traveler, The Sugarhill Gang, Faith Evans, the Fugees, The Four Seasons, Saves the Day, Thursday, 3LW, and the list goes on.
We don’t know how to pump gas
Alright, this one is sort of true. But think about how awful it is to get out of a warm, dry car in the middle of a snowstorm to pry open your gas tank. We never have to do that. If you see us struggling to work an out-of-state gas pump, please, show some pity and help us out.
We have the worst roads in America
This one’s accurate. But you try paving roads over sand dunes, and then let us know how many potholes you end up with! We can’t really make an excuse for those jughandles, though, which require you to take an exit on the right and loop around to make a left. Those are just plain weird.
We lack culture
Pshhhh, we’ll make quick work of this stereotype. All it takes is a visit to Stockton University’s Noyes Museum of Art, with locations in Atlantic City, Hammonton, and Galloway. Noyes celebrates local folk art with two museums – including the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey – eight artist studios, galleries, and classroom space. If you’re still not convinced, take in a performance from Symphony in C, the critically-acclaimed symphony orchestra that performs on the campus of Rutgers University-Camden.
“The Garden State” is a myth
We get it. The Jersey you can see when you’re touching down at JFK isn’t exactly a lush agricultural paradise. But travel south a little, and you’ll see we’ve earned our state motto in spades (get it?). There are nearly 250,000 acres of preserved farmland in the state, and the vast majority of it is down here in South Jersey. The Pine Barrens – an internationally recognized biosphere and the country’s first National Reserve – makes up 22 percent of the state’s land area, and all those trees are in – you guessed it – South Jersey. Come see us in the summer, and we’ll make you a locally-sourced feast: blue claw crabs, sweet white corn, and perfect blueberry pie.
Along the side of Old Tuckahoe Road lies a field of gold. Sunflowers bloom here each year, planted by a dedicated farmer by the name of Donald. He's been planting these flowers ever year since the late 1980's. It's become a tradition; he plants them in early April, and they begin to bloom in mid June. He sells them at his small roadside cart, 50¢ a flower, and he uses the honor system. People place the money into a small metal mailbox, and many have been stopping by for years to bring home a small part of the sunflower field. He goes out every few hours to harvest new flowers, sniping them with sharp pruners. He walks up and down the long rows, looking for just the right flowers to place into his antique cart to sell. He looks for ones with strong stems so they don't droop over. It's endless work, but he enjoys it. When I was strolling through the field of flowers he was eager to talk about them. "Before they bloom, the buds track the sun. They'll even climb over each other to reach the light!" He informed us with a smile. "But once they bloom, the flowers face to the east." He even fills bigger orders too, for weddings and other functions. He places a card near the cart with his phone number in case any one needs a large order. The pride he took in his field was evident. He apologized that we were there in between blooms. He plants the flowers in sections so that as one section begins to whither, another is ready to go. He told us that in a week the next field would be ready to go. We looked around and saw plenty of beautiful flowers still in bloom. His flower field serves not only to just beautify the roadside, but it also helps the local bees. Hundreds of bumble bees lazily buzz back and forth from flower to flower, gathering pollen. Some flowers had upwards of ten bees wriggling all throughout the pollen. After we were done in the fields we crossed over to the cart and picked out a few sunflowers. We stuffed the bills into the box, being sure to overpay, and then took a small piece of this magical little place home with us, to adorn the table, and to remind us of the golden field. This is @stryfe2103 for @jerseycollective