Pasta Dumped in New Jersey Woods by the Tons!
For many people, pasta is a sacred cuisine. In New Jersey, where over 1 million residents, including the fictitious Tony Soprano, can trace their ancestry to Italy, pasta is held in a particular place of devotion.
So why would someone throw hundreds of pounds of pasta into the forest in the Garden State instead of serving it up on a heaping platter with plenty of sauce and Parmesan cheese? Old Bridge, New Jersey residents have been puzzling over this issue for the past few days, though some of the mystery may have been cleared up.
Ali Allocco, a Philadelphia native who formerly resided in New Jersey, tweeted a screenshot of the spaghetti incident from a New Jersey Reddit forum on her Twitter account on Tuesday, which gave the incident further attention.
As of Friday afternoon, it has received more than 5 million views and over 4,500 retweets. It took off like a kettle of boiling water. These images of the pasta dump were shared on Facebook and community group pages by Old Bridge resident Nina Jochnowitz, who stood for township council in 2021.
someone very mysteriously dumped 3-400 pounds of pasta in the woods in old bridge, nj …… i need to know everything pic.twitter.com/z6D1e7u2JJ
— pasta girl (@worrystonee) May 2, 2023
In the township, elbow macaroni and endless amounts of noodles can be seen piled up along the side of a stream in the photos. When contacted by phone on Friday morning, Jochnowitz stated that she had visited the area to take pictures after learning about it from a neighbor.
“They did it in the old-fashioned method — which is they dumped it in the woods, which everybody does,” she said. The 23-year-old resident claimed to have contacted the township authorities, but Old Bridge doesn’t have a dump of its own and instead hires private businesses to pick up trash.
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“When you don’t have a facility to get rid of the crap, people do it the best way possible for themselves,” Jochnowitz said. Jochnowitz said the person who dumped pounds of the spaghetti was “a resident of the neighborhood who was cleaning out a large amount of pasta.” Out of consideration for the family, she chose not to mention his name.
He had a very large collection of pasta, and it ended up, basically, at our footsteps,” she said. In a statement to CNN on Thursday, Old Bridge’s business administrator, Himanshu Shah, revealed that “several hundred pounds” of pasta were discarded; all of it was, in fact, raw spaghetti.
“We would estimate several hundred pounds of uncooked pasta that was removed from the packaging and then dumped along the creek. It looks like it was only there for a short time but moisture did start to soften some of the pasta,” according to Shah. There was heavy rain in the area over the past weekend.
On April 28, police were called to the location. Shah claims that two workers from public works then showed up to clean things up. The Old Bridge Department of Public Works cleaned up “what appeared to be 15 [wheelbarrow] loads of illegal dumped pasta along a creek in a residential neighborhood,” Shah said.
According to the statement, the township police department is currently looking into it. Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry commented on the controversy on Friday, saying that if the person had called and asked what to do with the spaghetti, the township might have offered other suggestions, including donating it to a food bank.
He said, “This material could have been disposed of properly, so it was a mistake in judgment.” Henry estimated that the cleanup took two hours.
A 33-year-old neighborhood resident named Keith Rost discovered the piles of pasta while strolling along a trail and claimed that the public works workers used a machine to vacuum it up.
He explained, “They had a little machine that scooped it up, and they spent about 2 hours cleaning up the trail up that day,” he said. The spaghetti may have accumulated over the course of the Covid epidemic, neighbors have said Rost, who like Jochnowitz declined to identify the offender.
Full disclosure: Old Bridge is my hometown. The New York City suburb in Central New Jersey (no matter what anyone tells you, Central Jersey does exist; even the governor says so) of about 67,000 people doesn’t appear in my Twitter feed too often, and I definitely didn’t expect to read that “pounds of pasta” — hundreds, in fact — were unceremoniously discarded. O mio dio, my Italian ancestors would be horrified.
Two Old Bridge residents (again, full disclosure: my parents) made a previously unplanned stop on Thursday afternoon near the scene, and my dad walked through the wooded area. He didn’t see any remnants of the saucy situation, though they did spot a wheelbarrow.
My mom’s take on why this now-global story struck a nerve? “Well, everyone loves pasta.”
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