With its close proximity to NYC, New Jersey is no stranger to originating some pretty well-known brands. Some of those include Campbell’s and Bosco Chocolate Syrup, which began in South Jersey, but the North Jersey area lays claim to a number of its own popular grocery brands. We took a trip to our local Hoboken food store and scoped out some brands that may surprise you – we’re looking at you, M+Ms. Read on for your shopping list of grocery store brands that started in North Jersey.
Family-owned since 1992, Hoboken Farms offers marinara, basil marinara, low-sodium marinara, and vodka sauce. Founder, Brad Finkkel realized the love for Jersey sauce was abundant and that many ex-Hobokenites who have now spread well beyond the North Jersey area loved the idea of finding these fantastic sauces in their local supermarkets. You can find Hoboken Farms’ products at Whole Foods, Acme, Kings, The Fresh Market, The Ancient Olive, Martin’s, and Caraluzzi’s.
Read More: The Little Grocery: Food Made With Love in Hoboken
In 2014, Sadie and John Olsen of Clinton started Otto’s Naturals after trying to find the best gluten-free flour for Sadie. The brand’s namesake is the couple’s son, Otto. All of the products, from the flour to baking soda to cookie mix, use cassava. Cassava is a starchy root vegetable also known as yuca, and is gluten-free and popular in Brazilian cuisine. You can find Otto’s Naturals products at Whole Foods, Wegmans, MOM’S Organic Market, Publix, Kings, Shoprite, Save Mart, Sprouts, and Wegmans.
In an Englewood Cliffs basement, Lance Collins and Paula Grant founded Fuze Beverage. The brand first launched in 2001 in Northern California with flavors such as banana colada, mixed berry, and cranberry raspberry. The next year, peach mango and tropical punch would be added to the roster. As the company developed, it grew too big for Collin’s basement and a new location was needed. In 2007, the brand was purchased by the Coca-Cola Company, allowing it the ability to launch new products. Now, you can find Fuze Beverage products at Walmart, Shoprite, Publix, Circle K, and Stop&Shop.
Founded in 1998 by Steven and Ann Prato, this Montclair-based company produces iced tea, lemonade, and potato chips. The drink flavors this brand sells include black tea, green tea, watermelon lemonade, pineapple lemonade, berry lemonade, and so many more. You’ll also find chip flavors such as jalapeno, salt + pepper, bacon + cheddar, and sweet potato.
Initially, the couple distributed their products to local stores in Hoboken and along the Jersey Shore. In time, the brand expanded to wholesale distribution and began supplying the New York metropolitan area. In 2012, Joe Tea emerged in the Chilean, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Brazilian, Indonesian, Canadian, and British markets. You can find Joe Tea in Whole Foods, Walmart, Sprouts, and Shoprite.
Randazzo’s Pasta Sauce
Born and raised in an Italian-American household in Long Island, Rochelle Randazzo grew up knowing the importance of simple delicious meals. Several years ago she began selling sauce out of her Glen Rock home. Today, her brand uses Jersey tomatoes and local dairy products to make marinara, plum tomato basil, and vodka sauce. Her brand also features basil, olive oil + herb, spinach, and kale pesto, all of which are nut free. You can find Randazzo’s Pasta Sauce products in Whole Foods, Acme, Stop&Shop, Weis, Key Food, and Schucks.
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In 1949 English immigrant Edward “Eddie” Dee founded Ce De Candy in Bloomfield. As the candy grew in popularity, operations were moved to Elizabeth in 1959 and then its current location of Union Township in 1967. In 2011, the official name of the company was changed from Ce De Candy Inc. to Smarties Candy Co. to honor its most famous product. The first National Smarties Day was held on October 2nd, 2022, which also happens to be Eddie’s birthday. The company is now run by his three granddaughters — Sarah Dee, Jessica Dee Sawyer, and Liz Dee. You can find Smarties at Target, Walmart, Five Below, Staples, and Dollar General.
In 1941, the production of M&M’s first began in Newark’s Clinton Hill neighborhood. The company worked out of this factory located at 285 Badger Avenue until 1958. Today the land sits as a vacant lot. The first series of M&Ms were sold in paper tubes featuring yellow, orange, brown, red, green, and violet color-coated chocolates. The iconic M’s derive from the name of Forrest E. Mars Sr., the son of Frank C. Mars who founded Mars, Incorporated, and Bruce Murrie, the son of Hershey Chocolate’s president at the time. At the time Bruce had a 20% share in the brand, allowing the colorful candies to be made from Hershey chocolate as the company maintained control over the rationing of chocolate during World War II.
At peak weeks nearly 200,000 pounds of M&Ms came out of Newark, most of it which went to the military. Through national advertising, M&Ms were a household name by 1950 growing so large by 1958, that the plant moved operations to Hackettstown to keep up with demand. In addition to war, M&Ms have also gone to space. In 1981 astronauts John W. Young and Robert L. Crippen asked for the chocolates to be included in their food supply. In 1984 M&Ms were the official candy of Los Angeles’ summer Olympics. Today, we enjoy M&M’s filled with nuts, pretzels, caramels, and even personalized ones with our faces on them. M&Ms are so popular and widespread, you can find them at nearly every grocery and convenience store within the country.
See More: A Guide to New Jersey-Made Sauce Brands
Tuscan Dairy Farms
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In 1918, Russian immigrant Louis Borinksy began Tuscan Dairy Farms. This family-run operation started out delivering products door to door throughout Union and Essex County. By 1930, Tuscan had at least 700 cows and was said to be the second-largest dairy establishment in the Eastern United States. At the time, the company produced Grade A pasteurized milk, heavy sweet cream, cereal cream (also known as half and half), sweet butter, salt butter, pot cheese, buttermilk, and sour cream. The wholesale and retail distributions were made to Irvington, Hillside, Elizabeth, Springfield, Bloomfield, Newark, Millburn, Rahway, Union Township, and the surrounding vicinity.
In 1957, a new three-acre plant in Lodi was opened to serve New Jersey’s Bergen and Passaic Counties, as well as New York’s Orange and Rockland Counties. Today, the company is headquartered in Burlington County’s Florence Township, and you can still find many of the same items from the 30s. Current products include half and half, whipped cream, whipping cream, heavy cream, buttermilk, and various milks such as low-fat, fat-free, and whole milk. You can find these items at Stop&Shop, Fresh Grocer, Shoprite, Target, and Gristedes.