New Jersey: known to many as the “Armpit of America”. But to myself, Julia, and the 9 million people who live here, it is OUR armpit that we have come here to defend. With reality television shows like “Jersey Shore” and “Real Housewives of NJ”, people can easily assume that everyone from New Jersey lives the GTL lifestyle like America’s favorite guidos Pauly D and Vinny or has a temper that can flip an entire dining room table like the one and only Teresa Giudice. While these popular culture icons do hold a special place in the hearts of every die-hard Jersey Girl, we’re here to give you a look into what these reality television shows can’t capture: an appreciation for New Jersey culture.
With over nine million residents, you would think that New Jersey is a pretty big state. Well, New Jersey is actually the fourth-smallest state by area and the 11th most-populous. But our ratio of people to square mile puts us at the most densely populated state in the country. So, this must mean that everyone wants to live in our amazing state right? I mean, I would only hope so! Many people are attracted to New Jersey because of the convenience offered from its location. Residents of New Jersey have direct access via New Jersey Transit and Amtrak to major cities with the main being New York City, but also Philadelphia and Boston. But if you’re not a city person, don’t worry because we have some of the greatest beaches in the country. You would be surprised how many people travel from far and wide to the one and only Jersey Shore because they want to have the ultimate “Jersey Shore” experience or spend quality time with their friends and family down the shore. And then if you’re not a shore person (although I don’t know how you couldn’t be), we also have mountains. The Appalachian Mountains offer scenic views and is a beautiful hiking destination, and the Pocono mountains are right next door in PA. Whether it be to ski, hike or white-water raft, the Poconos are a great place to escape and relax. Definitely no “Armpit of America” vibes with these views.
Photos by Julia Kirkland
The Suburban Lifestyle
What’s better than having to deal with the strenuous hustle and bustle of any of NJ’s neighboring major cities? Living in the suburbs! The suburbs of New Jersey are truly a great and underrated (still salty about the armpit reference) place to grow up. While Julia and I are biased, we can both agree that there is something so special about growing up in an area that still moves at the fast pace of the city yet allows you to indulge in suburban luxuries including community-oriented neighborhoods in loving towns, big yards with grass for your dogs, and a flow of traffic that doesn’t make you feel like you’re going to get into a car accident at every other corner. You can never underestimate the importance this overall ambiance and environment play in your daily life until you move your life 3,000 miles across the country to a new city on an entirely different coast. While we do truly love the lives we live here in Los Angeles, there are many days where we miss the luxury of walking to our best friend’s houses after a long night out and taking public transportation to places we had no plans to end up in at all. This just goes to show that you may be able to take these two girls out of Jersey, but you will NEVER be able to take Jersey out of these Jersey Girls who deeply love their armpit state.
Photos by Julia Kirkland
While the Northeast is known for its seasonal weather, Julia and I believe that out of all the Northeastern states, New Jersey experiences the seasons at their prime. Our winters are not as dreadfully cold or snowy as Boston (rightfully deserved because of all the AWFUL New-England Patriots fans), yet we still reach temperatures low enough for chilly nights by the fireplace with hot cocoa and enough snow days to put us in school until late June. Our springs are quite rainy and gloomy, and at times truly is depressing feeling like we will never see the sun again in the days of late April/May. But towards the end of the rainy spring season, all of the beautiful flowers and leaves on the trees appear again and the canopy that was once naked is now returned. And that smell of dew on the grass in the morning… truly sensational. Our summers are not as insanely hot and humid as tropical climates, but they can definitely be pretty close on some days. But the smell of the crisp Atlantic Ocean air and the feeling after spending your entire day at the beach to come home to a warm outdoor shower makes those hot and humid days worth it. And our falls are truly the epitome of gorgeous as the canopy of leaves you see for miles and miles begins to change colors as the air is filled with smoke from fireplaces, hot apple cider doughnuts, and fresh pie. Now, don’t you see how an “armpit state” and apple cider doughnuts don’t add up?
Photos by Julia Kirkland
If you ever dare to question the food in New Jersey, I will point you to New York Times bestselling cookbook author and food critic Ed Levine. The author of Pizza: A Slice of Heaven claims that no pizza in all of the five boroughs of New York City gave him as much pleasure as the pizza from Razza, a local pizza dive bar in Jersey City. For an acclaimed food critic to say such a controversial thing about the city that is known for having the best pizza outside of Italy, this can only mean one thing: NJ has some pretty bomb food. From delicious pizza, buttery bagels, Boardwalk cheese balls, sweet salt-water taffy, Kohr Brother’s frozen custard, Taylor ham, and too many more staple foods to name, I swear you can never go hungry within a five-mile radius of where you live. Fair warning: be prepared to spend all of your money on food if you ever visit because you most definitely will. And you will never regret it. Pretty tasty for an “armpit state” if you ask me!
We hope that after reading this, you are somewhat convinced that New Jersey is not in any way, shape, or taste similar to an armpit. And next time anyone wants to hash out an argument with either of us to prove us wrong, you better stand far away from a dining room table. Because that table is being flipped, Jersey style baby!