This mystery is sure to have you scratching your noodle. Someone dumped roughly 15 wheelbarrows full of pasta along a river bank in Old Bridge, New Jersey. The strange finding was first reported to town resident Nina Jochnowitz.
Jochnowitz, unsuccessfully, ran for local office a few years ago. During her campaign, she met a lot of the town’s residents and became an unofficial complaint department of sorts. Now as you’d probably imagine, a suburb about 30 miles northeast of Trenton doesn’t see a whole lot of action. Locals mostly call Jochnowitz about things like loud fireworks and trash being left on the curb after pick-up. All in the hope that she can persuade the town to crack down on these things.
But last week she got a call from a woman she had met during her campaign and things got weird. “There’s a pile of pasta dumped on the side of the stream,” is what was reported. While there is no use in crying over spilled Ramen, Jochnowitz hopped in her car to investigate. Located less than a mile from her home, the river commonly sees debris from construction and old furniture.
But what she found was hundreds of pounds of pasta just dumped alongside the stream. These mounds of pasta weren’t even all the same variety either. The piles had spaghetti, macaroni, and alphabet shapes in them. “There was literally 25 feet of pasta that had been dumped,” said Jochnowitz. She estimates there were about 300 to 500 pounds of it altogether. What kind of monster wastes three servings of pasta like that?!
Since it didn’t seem like Strega Nona was in town. Jochnowitz took photos to post to Facebook to try to find out who did it. As well as report the bizarre litterbug to the town’s officials. Soon Old Bridge’s Facebook groups were all consumed with “Pasta Gate 2023.” While some are seriously trying to figure out who did it. Others saw a prime opportunity for puns and dad jokes, both perfectly valid responses.
On Thursday an e-mail was sent out by Himanshu Shah, the town business administrator, with the subject line “Pasta Dumping.” It said that the Department of Public Works found “what appeared to be 15 wheelbarrow loads of illegal dumped pasta along a creek in a residential neighborhood.” The Police Department dispatched an officer, who took a report and two Public Works employees then cleaned up the pasta “in under an hour, and properly disposed of it.”
But one of the weirdest things is no one can seem to agree if the pasta was pre-cooked or not. Jochnowitz said the pasta had been cooked. Shah said it was uncooked pasta that had been removed from its packaging and had softened after several days in the rain. Jochnowitz also believes this speaks to the lack of bulk-trash service in Old Bridge. Which has “been a point of contention for many years.”
Since its discovery, Jochnowitz has learned who dumped the pasta but will not say who for fear of unwanted attention. “I only know that it was not a business,” she said. “It was a private residence, and I’m in conversation with the family via an individual who knows the family.”
It is also possible that she just wants to keep the culprit out of the state penne tentiary. But we guess we should keep in mind this is the same state that had a spaghetti restaurant ban all kinds under 10. New Jersey takes its carbs seriously.