When you visit any new place, there’s often a learning curve. You have to figure out how to get around, observe the local customs, maybe even learn a new language. While you might not have to break out Google Translate when visiting an American tourist site like New Jersey, there are a few colloquialisms specific to the shore. Here are 9 Jersey shore slang words tourists visiting NJ for the first time should know. If you’re a regular vacationer, use this to brush up on your Jersey jargon!
If you hear a local using this term, they’re probably referring to you. A Benny or a Shoobie is a tourist, usually from New England states like New York or Massachusetts. Benny might have originated from the train stops tourists usually hit to get to the shore (Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, and New York). Shoobie seems to come from the fact that tourists have been known to bring their picnic lunches in shoe boxes. Hopefully knowing the local slang (and bringing your lunch in a picnic basket) will prevent natives from recognizing you as such.
During the hot summer months, it would make sense to think that this term refers to air conditioning systems. But if you listen carefully, you’ll realize that New Jerseyans use this word to refer to a place: Atlantic City, a popular tourist site known for its casinos and boardwalk.
Speaking of boardwalks, the boards is a term locals use to refer to the many boardwalks in tourist towns like Wildwood, Ocean City, and Cape May. These fun beachside locations often feature arcades, amusement parks, entertainment venues, t-shirt shops, boutiques, and plenty of food.
When ordering food on the boards, it’s important to test out the local cuisine. The shore has plenty of delicious dishes to try, as long as you know how to ask for them. For example, disco fries are similar to Canadian poutine. They feature steak fries, gravy (the brown kind, not pasta sauce if you’re Italian), and mozzarella cheese. Yum!
To complement your disco fries, you might want to order a ripper. This is a deep fried hot dog, so named for its crispy case that can be easy to rip off.
Now if you really want to go for the gusto, a fat sandwich might be your best bet. This sandwich contains, well, almost anything you can imagine. The protein might include hamburger patty, chicken, cheesesteak, meatballs, or egg. You might top it with condiments like marinara or BBQ sauce, mayo, or ketchup, or vegetables like lettuce. Other common extras include french fries, onion rings, and mozzarella sticks. You name it, and you’ll probably get it on a fat sandwich.
If you’re on the boards in the morning and didn’t have time to grab breakfast beforehand, you might want to order this Jersey Breakfast. The triple bypass, named for its three ingredients (and perhaps also the surgery you might need if you eat too many), is a sandwich topped with egg, cheese, and taylor ham or pork roll, both of which are meats not commonly sold outside of Jersey.
If you do want a taste of Jersey even when you’re not there, you might listen to some music from The Boss. This title refers to Bruce Springsteen, the singer-songwriter famous for his poetic and working class focused lyrics. A New Jersey native and local hero, Springsteen was born in Long Branch and currently lives in Colts Neck. He earned this nickname because he gave profits from shows he splayed to his E Street Band members.
While Springsteen plays on the radio on your way to Jersey, you might encounter a jug handle. Named for its shape, this is a common offshoot from main roads for vehicles turning left in order to eliminate left turn lanes. So don’t be alarmed if a local directs you to the right when you’re meant to turn left!
Hopefully, this list helped the Bennys, Shoobies, or any newcomers understand the unique dialect that is New Jerseyan. Be sure to remember your favorite Jersey shore slang words!