Roadfood pillars Bruce Bilmes and Sue Boyle referred to pork roll, egg, and cheese in a roll as the “unofficial state sandwich of New Jersey,” declaring that White Rose System makes the best.
Strangers to The Garden State might ask, What is pork roll? Answer: It is processed pork products formed into a loaf that originally — since 1856 — was called Taylor Ham after its inventor, John Taylor. That label was dropped in 1906 because it did not meet the new government definition of “ham.” Pork roll gets sliced thin and almost always griddle-fried. Piled up with egg and cheese in a hard roll and maybe with some fried potatoes added to the sandwich, it makes up virtually an entire day’s recommended intake of nearly everything we’re supposed to be afraid of eating. In diner slang, the combo is known as a triple bypass.
White Rose System provides ideal ambience for consuming such a formidable sandwich. It is a vintage Kullman-built diner with counter seats that provide a view of short-order cooks at work. The menu includes such other New Jersey favorites as an Italian hot dog (with fried potatoes, onions, and peppers), an Italian cheese steak (also with potatoes), a super hot sausage sub, greasy little oniony sliders (here known as little bullets), and – of all things – fish & grits!
Bruce and Sue wrote, “The White Rose was once part of a small, three-store chain; they’re now independently owned. About the name: New Jersey seems to have a particular fondness for food-of-the-people joints with the word white in the name. You’ll find White Manna and White Mana (yes, two different spellings), a few White Diamonds, and White House Subs, of course, in addition to the White Roses. Our guess is that white connoted cleanliness in an age when it was perhaps not as easy to come by in restaurants of this type. And system… why White Rose System? As with the New York Systems of Rhode Island, the reasons are lost in the mists of time…”