Summer is the time to stuff your face full of junk food and ruin that beach body you worked on all winter. It's the time to stuff yourself with carbs and sugar while you’re basking in the sunshine.
Promenades and boardwalks line the New Jersey shore featuring culinary delights that will dazzle even the most experienced junk food fanatic. Even though many of these choices are classified by US Law as "food with minimal nutritional value," your taste buds will thank you for the treat nonetheless.
Here are 10 treats that will make your beach vacation complete.
Prep's Buffalo Chicken Pizza is our pie of choice — Photo courtesy of Chris Urie
The holiest of holy foods. A great slice of pizza has the magical power to uplift your soul and make pure satisfaction course through your veins. Pair this perfect delivery system of tomato sauce and cheese with a sea breeze and board under your feet, you have the recipe for beach vacation memories.
At the shore, you're looking for something with a thin, crispy crust and a slightly sweet and tangy sauce marbled with fresh cheese. Keep the toppings simple. Pepperoni, sausage and maybe some veggies.
It's okay to get messy with funnel cake at the beach — Photo courtesy of Chris Urie
Coils of batter wrap round and round, crisscrossing as they sizzle in the boiling hot oil. Shower that crunchy brown creation in powdered sugar and you've got yourself a delectable boardwalk dessert.
For this crisscrossing maze of batter and powdered sugar, we have the Pennsylvania Dutch to thank. First introduced by these lovely German-speaking immigrants, the modern form of of funnel cake took its final form around 1879.
Pro tip: Funnel cake is best eaten in your bathing suit, so you can simply dive into the ocean to wash off all that powdered sugar that's inevitably gone everywhere.
Deep fried Oreos
Dig into some deep fried Oreos — Photo courtesy of Chris Urie
A man who deserves an honorary million Michelin Stars is "Chicken" Charlie Boghosian, the Armenian angel who created the devilish deep fried Oreo. Deep frying anything has the power to enhance just about any ingredient: butter, Coca-Cola, Snickers bars. But the Oreo is in a league all its own.
A properly battered and fried Oreo creates the perfect contrast of fluff and crunch. The crispy outer shell gives way to softened cookie within. The interior has the consistency of an Oreo dunked in milk, making it a simple delight for anyone looking for a quick shot of sugar and carbs.
I guess you could say cotton candy is a "lighter" snack — Photo courtesy of Chris Urie
For those of you with an intense sweet tooth, look no further than a big ol’ bushel of cotton candy. Ironically, machine-spun cotton candy was invented in 1902 by a dentist and a confectioner. It debuted at the 1904 World's Fair where it quickly caught on at carnivals, circuses, and theme parks across the country.
Since any Jersey boardwalk worth its salt(y food) features carousels, rides, and fairground games, it was only a matter of time before beachgoers were stuffing their faces with fluffy colored sugar clouds.
Johnson's caramel popcorn is calling your name — Photo courtesy of Chris Urie
A classic of the boardwalk for generations, caramel corn is a required crunchy snack while strolling between theme park piers.
Originating sometime around the 1890s, caramel corn is deceptively difficult to make. The caramel corn crafter has to expertly regulate the heat of the molten caramel so that it evenly coats the popcorn without scorching the sugar. The result is a salty, sweet and crunchy mixture that's perfectly suited to nosh while walking your way to the next skeeball destination.
Polish water ice is probably the most refreshing treat — Photo courtesy of Chris Urie
What could be more refreshing after a long day of riding roller coasters, playing whack-a-mole and walking along the beach than a fruit-flavored cup of icy cold goodness?
No, not plain old ice water. We’re talking about water ice, that concoction of water, sugar, flavor and technicolor food hues that has been dying tongues and creating sticky fingers ever since it was brought over to the US from Italy.
While many brave vendors have ventured out to create some wacky flavors, we recommend you stick with the classic fruit offerings. This is another messy treat best eaten in a bathing suit.
Kohr Brothers soft serve brings the nostalgia — Photo courtesy of Chris Urie
Evoking nostalgia with every lick, soft serve is one of the universal symbols of summer. It might be the salt air or the pine under your feet, but for some mysterious reason, soft serve tastes so much better on the boardwalk.
The perfect way to beat the heat is with a twist. You get the best of both flavors – and you're no longer limited to the simple vanilla and chocolate variation anymore. Any soft serve joint worthy of a spot along the boards features an array of twists with orange, strawberry and an array of other flavors.
Salt water taffy
Shriver's salt water taffy is the most portable option — Photo courtesy of Chris Urie
Originating in Atlantic City around the 1880s, it has long been debated how salt water taffy got its name. One tale suggests a lazy candy-making assistant accidentally used sea water while making a batch of taffy. Another account claims a storm surge flushed sea water through a candy store over their trays of taffy. However it happened, we're glad it became the signature sweet of the Jersey Shore.
Typically packaged with nostalgic style and care, salt water taffy is always a welcome gift to bring home to those who weren't lucky enough to make it to the beach.
Don't miss stopping at Shriver's for fudge — Photo courtesy of Chris Urie
If you're looking for a snack and a show, walk no farther than one of the numerous fudge shops that dot just about any boardwalk along the New Jersey coast.
This concoction of sugar, butter, milk and assorted ingredients is heated to the soft ball stage, then poured into giant copper vats where someone with an amusing hat and a wooden paddle beats this candy into a creamy texture as it cools.
Flavor is found at Curly's Fries — Photo courtesy of Chris Urie
Flavor is attracted to curves. That's a scientific fact. So according to science, the most delicious french fries would be curly fries. Cut with a specialized spiral slicer and deep fried to perfection, curly fries have the perfect shape to really soak up their seasoning and deliver greasy, starchy, goodness to many a weary beachgoer.
While your standard salted fries are a classic, we've seen creative fry purveyors get fancy with the spices and introduce Old Bay and curry powder to their menus.