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Jan 3, 2007 04:50 PM

"Liverwish" sandwiches? (New Jersey-isms)

Over the holidays, was surprised and very amused to hear, at the Trenton Farmer's Market, a woman ordering a half-pound of "Liverwish".

It brought back memories of classmates in grammar school saying it like that, but I didn't realize it was a regional term used by some adults too! Any other experience with this?

(By the way, the liverwish sand was delicious on rye toast with onion and mayo -- probably hadn't had one in fifteen years.)

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  1. "Water ice"
    "Boardwalk fries"
    "Disco fries"

    Common in New Jersey and some other places:
    "steak wit"
    "large, light and sweet"
    "cruller" pronounced "cruh-lurr" not "croo-lurr"
    "plain pie" or "plain slice"
    "sfoolyadell", "moozadell", "reegawt" and other Italian manglings

    39 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      I'm sorry...I should know this, I live only 5 hours north...

      What are boardwalk fries? Disco fries?

      1. re: Das Ubergeek

        wuht-der-mel-on wuht-der ice, to be more exact

        we were just discussing the regional differences of the footlong sandwich the other day- up north it's a sub or a hero, but cross a certain latitude (read: exit) and it's a hoagie. sorry- heuo-gee.

        and grinder? they only say that in new england.

        1. re: julietg

          Ok, geek, I grew up in NJ and lived there for 23 years, but even I don't know what some of these are. Boardwalk fries? Steak wit? Large, light and sweet (you mean "regular coffee"?)?

          I mentioned on another thread that I've gotten looks in California like I'm from outerspace when I forget myself and ask for a "plain slice" and then have to backpedal and say "oh, I mean CHEESE."

          And I love both "gabuhgool" and "ruhgawt."

          There's always a new surprise when I visit NJ: this year's was "liverwish" spoken by someone older than 10.

          1. re: allegro805

            Boardwalk fries are thick-cut French fries with vinegar and seasoned salt. Disco fries (sometimes called "diner fries") are fries with cheese and brown gravy, like poutine's ghetto cousin. Steak wit is actually a Philly thing but it's really common in South Jersey, too -- it's a cheesesteak with onions.

            "Regular coffee" will get you a cup with sugar and cream in a diner but "large, light and sweet" is how you order it to go. :)

            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              I used to get "regular coffee" to go almost every day at a Manhattan "coffee shop". Served, of course, in a paper cup with blue Greek key design around it. I wasn't the only one ordering it that way.

              I had to explain to people recently that a buttered roll ("yes, just a kaiser roll with butter... What's a 'kaiser roll', you ask...") is (or was) a common breakfast in NJ/NY.

              I've never done disco fries, but "Fries & Gravy" were a diner staple (and they're also another of those things that make people look at me like I have two heads).

              1. re: allegro805

                we never called 'em boardwalk fries, just Curly's fries. The first place I ever at fries with malt vinegar (and he only place until I went to England) was at Curly's on the Wildwood boardwalk.

                Kaiser rolls...what would lunch have been without them?

                1. re: allegro805

                  The buttered roll is a godsend. I don't know how I lived without before I moved to NJ.

                  1. re: winodj

                    Yup a butter roll. Taylor Pork roll w/ fried egg & ketchup on a kaiser. Panzerotti, south, Italian hot dog, north. soft shell crab sandwich and a kolbasa & kapusta sandwich on an Italian roll or Kaiser.
                    Liverwurst on rye w/ scallions & mustard.
                    Italiian sausage sandwich..

            2. re: julietg

              A "grinder"? Sorry, I've lived in New England most of my life. It's always been a "sub" according to everyone I know.

              1. re: purple bot

                MA/RI here and it's always been a grinder to me.

                1. re: invinotheresverde

                  Some say that the origin of "hoagie" is from the sandwiches the workers on Hog Island (in the Delaware River) carried to work with them. I've only heard "grinder" used to describe a hoagie that has been run though the pizza oven. Go figure!

                2. re: purple bot

                  Grinder is strictly southern New England - the dividing line between sub and grinder lies geographically somewhere south of Boston and north of Providence.

                  Oops! Just realized that this is an old post. Oh well, it's still true.

                  1. re: BobB

                    My grandparents had one of the best GRINDER shops in greater Hartford: Silver Lane Deli in East Hartford, Connecticut. It's gone now, but memories of those grinders live on for many, I'm sure. Their shop certainly fit your geographic dividing line. So somewhere north of Hartford, it turns to sub, eh? :)

                    1. re: kattyeyes

                      I live just north of Boston, and a grinder is a cooked sub, with shredded lettuce- and is served at Greek pizza shops.

                      1. re: macca

                        Interesting--and we are not Greek, but Italian! Italian-Irish, to be precise. ;)

                    2. re: BobB

                      Here's an interesting sidelight that would support that.

                      When I was in college ( in Riverside, California) the popular sandwich place nearest campus was called Delia's Grinder Haven. The family migrated to California from Norwich, Connecticut. There's no specific year onthe site, except one picture showing the family, still in CT, in 1944.


                      I know they were in Riverside as early as 1959.

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    I am a Philly native.....gone since 81 and boy did you bring me back wit all o' dat

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      I grew up in New Jersey but have lived outside Nj now since 1992. My girlfriend and I were back home recently and went to a pizza joint and ordered a "meatball parm" for me and a "cheese slice" for her. The girl at the counter thought I meant I wanted a slice of american cheese on my meatball parm.

                      Guess I've been out of NJ for way too long.

                      Mr Taster

                      1. re: Mr Taster


                        There was no need for the added word "cheese". Remember economy of words is key in NJ. You order a "slice" it comes with dough, sauce and cheese. Any additional toppings require additional words. So the NJ correct way would have been "meatball parm and a slice"

                        Likewise with a whole pie. Order "large pie". That's all that's needed. Additional toppings, i.e. "large meatball pie," or "large pie, half sausage and pepper, half onion." See no wasted words.

                        1. re: jfood

                          To flip my own story on its ear....

                          A few years after leaving NJ (I was going to school in Missouri) I found a pizza place in Kansas City called "D'Bronx" which made a decent (for Missouri) NY style pie.

                          I once ordered a "large pie" and the girl thought I meant cherry or some such thing. My friends (who at this point were very tired of my trying to bring New Jersey to Missouri) just cupped their head in their hands in exasperation & embarassment. But really, I was just doing what came naturally!

                          Mr Taster

                          1. re: Mr Taster

                            It is called the "Show Me" state.

                            1. re: Mr Taster

                              I, too, am from New Jersey (live in Philly now, where things are different). I remember when my daughter was very young and we decided to order pizza for dinner. I picked up the phone and orderd two large pies, then heard my daughter burst into tears and cry, "I don't want pie for dinner...I want pizza!"

                              1. re: susan1353

                                See that's what I don't get - if you call a pizza a pie, what do you call an actual pie?

                                And the kind of pizza I like looks nothing like a pie...

                                1. re: Soop

                                  You got your apple pie, you got your pumpkin pie, you got your shepherd's pie and then you got your pizza pie. I probably call it pizza more often than pie, by not by much. When you just say "pie", what do you get?

                                  1. re: coll

                                    We'd always say what kind of pie. Pies are a big deal here I guess. fish and chips shops always serve pies, usually:
                                    Steak and Kidney
                                    Chicken and Mushroom
                                    Mince and onion.
                                    Depending on where you were you might get a certain type. Steak and kidney is probably the most ubiquitous.

                                    But there's also gourmet pies:

                                    But in all instances pies are referred to as something with a filled pastry crust and lid.
                                    Pizza is more like a bread TBH

                                    1. re: Soop

                                      That's what I thought, I've been exploring different meat and seafood pies lately myself. Ever try clam pie? (Probably not, it's an Eastern Long Island thing) Here you say pie, it's usually fruit filled. I don't know why pizza is a pie, I'm going to look it up.

                                      1. re: coll

                                        never tried clams full stop!

                                        I think pizza pie refers to the deep-dish chicago style one. Not sure though.

                                        1. re: Soop

                                          No definitely NY and NJ pizza is pie. Maybe because it rhymes with "When the moon hits your eye..."

                                          Well the general concencus seems to be that Pizza translates to Pie in English. Pie, cake, pastry, tart etc. And since a pie can be open or topped, that covers both styles. Outside this area, when it first became popular, it was also known as Tomato Pie rather than Pizza Pie. This is one of those things I never questioned before, and I'm going to have to stop now!

                                        2. re: coll

                                          jfood thinks Pepe's in New Haven may have had a hand in the invention of the clam pie.

                                          1. re: jfood

                                            No not that kind of clam pie. This is a real pie with a creamy potato and clam filling., similar to pot pie. It's a 350 year old tradition on the East End.

                                            1. re: coll

                                              got it...thx. similar to chick pp except with clams. sounds like a great vresion on a NE clamchowder

                                              1. re: jfood

                                                They also do oyster and lobster, although clam is most popular. Like a really rich clam chowder, exactly.

                                                1. re: coll

                                                  In the east end of London? Wow, never heard that but it sounds nice. Not quite sure where the east end is, but next time I go I'll try and remember.

                                                  Last time I stayed with my vegetarian friend and I taught her how to make pizza :)

                                                  1. re: Soop

                                                    Sorry East End of Long Island NY! Forgot about London, used to love East Enders show.

                                                    1. re: coll

                                                      Agghh! I hate East Enders! I've got an instant remote-reaching action when I hear the music :D

                                                      Makes sense now. There's so much good food to come out of America. I'd love a fried oyster po'boy :(

                                                      1. re: Soop

                                                        I used to watch it in the 1970s or whenever began. I have tried to watch it a few times since then but lost the thread, and it doesn't seem like anything special now. I think I just liked the accents.

                                                        This was before cable TV and I could got it on UHF but it came in really fuzzy. A friend came to visit and I told him I had a really good antennae and was picking it up from England, and he believed me, had to sit down and watch it too...ah, the good old days, when everyone was so much more innocent.

                              2. re: jfood

                                Ugh. I have that problem all the time here in NC. I'm a NY'er but I've lived here for over a dozen years. I still think it should be perfectly clear that when I order a "slice" I mean just that. If I wanted toppings I'd ask for them. Still, every counterperson, even ones I know are from NY, will ask, "Cheese slice?"

                                Yeah, what other kind is there?

                          2. It's not just a New Jersey pronunciation. My grandmother from Red Hook, Brooklyn would make liverwish and butter (yes butter) sandwiches almost daily for my grandfather's lunch and he still lived to be 87. She was proud to serve "Boar's Head Braunschweiger" sliced extra thick from the local deli on seeded Rye.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ZedNaught

                              I had actually first asked the woman at the deli counter for half a pound of "Braunschweiger" and she was perplexed. I quickly added "Liverwurst" (but not "Liverwish").

                            2. Slice of pizza? That's too fancy, we always aksed (yes, that's the way it's pronounced) for a "piece" of pizza. Maybe it's the alliteration, but I only started calling it a slice when I moved out of Jersey and the guy at the mall (only place in Florida you can by pizza by the piece or slice) had no clue what I was talking about.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: srcusa

                                Really? We always say we're "going for a slice" in my family. If we're really hungry, we're "going for a pie."

                                1. re: Heatherb

                                  "piecapizza" just rolls of the tongue easier. if it's apple or blueberry, then it's a "piecapie."

                                  1. re: srcusa

                                    What part you from? I live around Trenton. Interesting that a guy I know from around here went into a pizza place down south and asked for a pie. They said they didn't make any, but that there was a nice bakery down the street. I really think some of these language quirks are very exit-oriented (like the hoagie/sub issue). I don't talk at all like some of the people I've met from North Jersey. And now that you've got me thinking about it, my family never asks for a piece of pie, but the whole pizza is collectively referred to as a pie. Weird.

                                    1. re: Heatherb

                                      Sorry for the delayed reply, but traveling yesterday. I hail from the shore area (Monmouth County), so could very well be a very specific regional thing. I know we would never refer to a sub as a hoagie. That was strickly a Philly thing. For us, it was either a sub or a hero.

                                      1. re: srcusa

                                        I'm just discovering this site after having had "disco fries" with brie and truffle oil and wondering what "disco fries" actually are. I live in New York now but grew up in Monmouth County (Hazlet)...and it was definitely "piece o' pizza" down there. I mean "down dere."

                              2. NJ is the epitomy of using as few words/syllables as possible to convey a thought or ask a question.

                                For example, you go into a grocery store, looking for a 12-pack of soda. Normally people would ask, "could you please tell me which aisle i can find the soda?" In NJ you look at the same person and say "soda?" The person absolutely knows you are looking for the aisle with the soda and there is no need for the extra words. This drives my DW (from CT) crazy.

                                Likewise, Newark NJ is pronounced Nerk.

                                But back to food.

                                - No need for "...of pizza", just call it a slice, period. You call it a piece of pizza, you're outta here.
                                - Order a "hot dog" instead of a "dog", expect a snicker from the dog guy. Oh, and Italian dog is healthier because all the frying kills the germs
                                - Same with "hamburger" versus "burger"
                                - Liverwish, well that's exactly how you pronounce it,
                                - That fries thing, that must be a southern NJ thing, never really heard of that in Elizabeth.
                                - Let's not forget Taylor ham on a roll

                                36 Replies
                                1. re: jfood

                                  Taylor ham??? You talkin about Pork Roll?

                                  1. re: allegro805

                                    Nope, go to a bar, ask for a taylor ham and cheese on a roll. it was similar to a spicy bologna, grilled in a pan with the cheese melted. Never heard of pork roll til i was forty and saw it in the grocery store.

                                    1. re: jfood

                                      They're practically the same product. Trenton pork roll isn't as salty.

                                      1. re: jfood

                                        I have lived in New Jersey my entire life and would like to clear things up...taylor ham and pork roll are one and the same. "Taylor" brand pork roll is probably the most popular if not the original mass marketers of this most delicious, fully cooked pork product. In most New Jersey supermarkets pork roll is available in store brands in two varieties...mild or tangy, of which "tangy" would be the closest to Taylor brand pork roll. I don't know where the "taylor ham" moniker started, but if it gets more people to eat pork roll the world will be a better place...too bad you have to live in jersey or the edges of jersey to get it.

                                        ?? spicy bologna ?? !!!! blasphemy !!!!

                                        1. re: mudbone

                                          poe-tay-toe versus poe-tah-toe. "spicy bologna" versus "tangy...pork roll"

                                          Whatever us kids from NJ want to call it, as you stated it's a shame the rest of the country misses out on this right of passage. It has been years since jfood has bitten into this delicable treat. It is up there with the NJ Sloppy Joe as two of the BEST sandwiches in the world.

                                          Where jfood now lives it's hard even to get bacon and mayo on a turkey sandwich. Who da thunk it.

                                          Thanks for clearing up fellow Jerseyite.

                                          1. re: jfood

                                            LOL. I made my husband a pork roll and cheese on a kaiser for breakfast this morning. Now the whole house smells like a diner :)

                                            1. re: diablo

                                              for a true NJ sandwich it's on a "hard roll" not Kaiser. Kaiser is waaay too fancy for a sandwich from the Garden State

                                              1. re: jfood

                                                That is TOO funny. I got the roll from the *very fancy* Wawa down the road :)

                                                1. re: diablo

                                                  Keep up with the times! The taylor ham & cheese sandwich bread of choice is now the Portugese Roll!

                                                2. re: jfood

                                                  NJ guy now living in North Carolina. I once asked for a sandwich on a hard roll. The guy behind the counter thought I wanted a stale hamburger bun. No kidding
                                                  Taylor ham and cheese on a hard roll, now thats good eatin, talk about the real deal.

                                                  1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                                                    NJ guy in CT now and they would react equally with those deer in the headlights look. They have no idea how to make a roll up here.

                                              2. re: jfood

                                                Is the sloppy joe a regional NJ dish? I've haven't lived anywhere near NJ in 16 years, yet I never realized that.

                                                Mr Taster

                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                  Er. Sloppy Joe, if you weren't aware, isn't referring to a ground meat sandwich (what in Iowa is called a "Maid-Rite" or a "loose meats"). It's two meats (popular: rare roast beef and turkey, or turkey and pastrami, or turkey and ham), Swiss cheese, coleslaw and Russian dressing on rye.

                                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek


                                                    hopefully on your recent trip out here you introduced mini-uber to the greatest sandwich in the world.

                                                    some friends from NJ visited the jfoods last weekend and brought a couple of Joes. while asking everyone asked jfood if he was OK. He just looked up and smiled, a little cole slaw on the edge of his mouth. Sunday morning brought jfood staring into the fridge, a half sandwich still there. 7am sunday morning jfood eating a turkey/corned beef joe with a cup of coffee and the Times. :-)))

                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                      Unfortunately we were only in Westchester and Manhattan and neither place knows from a Sloppy Joe.

                                                  2. re: Mr Taster

                                                    very regional to mid/north jersey. brought back from Cuba 60 odd years ago. jfood has never seen it anywhere other than in NJ. it's a shame because it is a classic.

                                                    here is a picture of a true sloppy joe


                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                      jfood- so, when in New Jersey, what do you ask for if you want a ground beef w/ tomato sauce on a burger bun??

                                                      1. re: Midlife

                                                        seriously? a one way amtrak ticket west or south out of the state. jfood never saw that manwich sandwich on a menu in NJ when he lived there and has not seen it in CT where he lives now.

                                                        in fact jfood never heard of it until he was in college in DC. He thought he was getting the real sloppy joe :-)) and then they served him a manwich :-((. the only good news was that he knew this was the last time the food purveyor, Macke, was going to try to get that beef over the counter.

                                                        Jfood never acquired a taste for a manwich thingy.

                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                          I wit you jfood. You are right on about the sloppy joe. Did you ever try a smokey joe? Same deal but with smoked fish rather than the meat?

                                                          1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                                                            Does the GSP have exits?

                                                            You betcha. Jfood had both at his Bar Mitzvah in the 60's. The Sloppy's always sell better.

                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                              Meat AND cheese on a sandwich at a bar mitzvah?! A shondah is what it is!!!

                                                              1. re: rockycat

                                                                Amazing huh? Blame the 'rents on that one. Now you get shrimp sushi.

                                                      2. re: jfood

                                                        That... looks... awesome

                                                        I was born and raised in Ocean County, NJ and never in my life have I heard of a sloppy joe referred to in any other way than what I ate at my school cafeteria. "Loose meats".... *shudder*

                                                        Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I grew up in a Jewish household, in a heavily Jewish-influenced community (Lakewood), so the idea of putting cheese or mayo-based things on a sandwich was pretty revolting to me as a kid.

                                                        Mr Taster

                                                  3. re: mudbone

                                                    I can get Taylor Ham or Shop Rite brand here in E. Pa. I eat it on a Kaiser roll, with Sharp cheddar and fried egg... yummy !

                                                  4. re: jfood

                                                    LMAO, my jaw hit the floor when I saw JFood refer to himself as "I" rather than JFood. Then I saw the date :D

                                                    1. re: Soop

                                                      Good catch, soop! Let's bookmark this one for posterity :)

                                                      Mr Taster

                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                        yeah, i cut my deal to type for him a few months later. one of the worst decisions i ever made. i'm 13 and just want to hang out on the bed and watch the chipmunks. Know a good dog labor lawyer?

                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                          OH... now I finally get it! All this time I thought you were referring to yourself in the third person, Bob Dole style. My apologies, pooch.

                                                          Mr Taster

                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                            B just finished a couple Animal Rights classes at Law school, amd with the February CT bar coming, he may be able to help you regarding Mr JF in the spring..........

                                                  5. re: jfood

                                                    Yeah, that conversation is different:

                                                    "Can you tell me where I can find the soda?"
                                                    "It's in aisle 11, would you like me to show you?"


                                                    Boardwalk fries are a southern Shore thing... but disco fries are beloved in diners the whole state over -- and I'm from Central.

                                                    Also, in Central Jersey you would never ask for "Italian ice" at an Italian ice shop, you'd just say "ice".

                                                    And we call Newark "New-wuk".

                                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                      WOW...Fries with vinegar are so hard to find in New England. And I don't think I'd walk away from disco fries either.
                                                      In my little corner of MA (Merrimack Valley) Italian and Greek Americans in particular pronounce sandwich "sangwish". You also hear the word "Spuckie" for subs/grinders (refers to the sub roll). If we order a "medium regular" here we get cream and sugar but only at Dunkin Donuts and mom-and-pop doughnut shops. Not in Starbucks, Peets, etc. This is a great thread. PS We also say "Mottadel', gabbacol and ruhgot" but not as well as Jerseyites. One thing, god bless The Sopranos for glorifying some Jersey food.

                                                    2. re: jfood

                                                      Manhattanite here. We say "Gimme a slice!" Of course that means "Give me a slice of pizza."

                                                      1. re: Pan

                                                        *Gimme a slice!*
                                                        Continuation of the conversation -
                                                        "Round or square?"
                                                        "Round. Eh, gimme a corner, too."

                                                        "I would like a slice of pizza, please."
                                                        "Would you like a Neapolitan slice or a Sicilian slice?"
                                                        "Neapolitan, please. Oh, and may I also have a corner piece from that Sicilan pie?"

                                                        Economy of verbiage. Gotta love it.

                                                      2. re: jfood

                                                        Go to a NY hot dog cart and you don't have to say "hot" or "dog." You just say:

                                                        "Lemme have one with mustard and kraut."

                                                        I usually say something like:

                                                        "Lemme have two with mustard and onions and one with mustard and kraut."

                                                        1. re: woodburner

                                                          A correction: it's "wit" not "with".

                                                      3. Another oddity is that NY Italian restaurants offer shrimp or clams "arregenata" while other locales prefer "oreganata"

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: ZedNaught

                                                          Hardly an "oddity." The oddity is that people confuse "arreganata" which is a kind of Italian slang for gratinee dishes, with oregano, with which it has little if anything in common. True dishes arreganata are characterized by garlic, butter, and bread crumbs. Oregano was probably not added to some of those dishes until those who were ignorant of Italian assumed it was "oreganato," and dumped a bunch of inappropriate oregano on the dish. Voila (or eccolo...) oreganata was born. That's the oddity. If restaurant sells "oreganata" I'm more than likely to avoid the dish and the restaurant.