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Why Should You Be Nice to New Jersey Next Week?

Margaret Lipman
Published Jun 28, 2024
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Poor New Jersey. The Garden State has a lot going for it, from beautiful beaches, rich farmland, and forests to great music and a thriving local diner scene, plus world-renowned institutions like Princeton University. It’s also one of the richest U.S. states in terms of median household income (so maybe not "poor New Jersey," after all).

Unfortunately, though, if someone tells a new acquaintance that they’re from New Jersey, they should probably brace themselves for a less-than-funny and often very dated joke about the state’s tollbooths or whether they know the cast of Jersey Shore. If you're usually the one making the jokes, this might be a good time to give New Jerseyans (New Jerseyites?) a break, as the first full week of July is "Be Nice to New Jersey Week."

“Be Nice to New Jersey Week” was started in Texas in the mid-1980s by San Antonio-based humor publisher Lone Star Publications of Humor Inc. Craig Scharf, a New Jersey native, and his wife, Lauren Barnett Scharf, came up with the idea after noticing that New Jersey appeared to be the butt of more jokes than any other U.S. state.

In 1985, they distributed a fact sheet about the greatness of New Jersey – part publicity stunt to boost their firm’s profile and part public service announcement. The New Jersey “firsts” they mentioned included the first organized baseball game, the first brewery in the United States, the first intercollegiate football game, and the first Miss America pageant. The Scharfs also pointed out that although jokes specific to New Jersey appear to have been used since the 1920s, perhaps it’s time to start picking on some other region, state, or city.

Be Nice to New Jersey!

  • Though far from an official holiday (in any state), the week has given New Jersey individuals, businesses, and organizations the opportunity to point out the many positives their state has to offer (and it’s not just The Boss).

  • Authors associated with New Jersey include Philip Roth, Allen Ginsberg, Joyce Carol Oates, Judy Blume, Junot Díaz, Harlan Coben, and George RR Martin.

  • The state is also linked to musical greats such as Frank Sinatra, Bon Jovi, Queen Latifah, Whitney Houston, Dionne Warwick, and, of course, Bruce Springsteen.

  • Sports stars like Carli Lloyd, Shaquille O’Neal, Franco Harris, and Mike Trout and scientists like Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and J. Robert Oppenheimer have also called New Jersey home.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margaret Lipman
By Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range of topics. Her articles cover essential areas such as finance, parenting, health and wellness, nutrition, educational strategies. Margaret's writing is guided by her passion for enriching the lives of her readers through practical advice and well-researched information.
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Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range...
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