Let's face it. New Jersey has been the vain of jokes for late night talk show hosts, to movies like Miss Congeniality. I have also got a ribbing from a friend or two who live in the pristine mid-west.

I took a drive to visit a friend in Illinois and he noticed my license plate read Garden State. He then laughed and said, " Garden State? What or where in New Jersey would you find a garden."

I shrugged it off and after he came out to visit me he took his words back. As a matter of fact, he seriously contemplated moving out here to New Jersey.

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The term "Garden State" was coined by Abraham Browning in August of 1876. Browning was a prominent politician and he said that "New Jersey was a beautiful barrel filled with good things to eat and was open on both ends with Pennsylvania grabbing them from one end and New York at the other end."

That barrel was determined to be The Garden State.

In 1954, the state Legislature passed a bill to have the Garden State added to the New Jersey license plates. Gov. Robert Meyner vetoed the bill because he did not believe the average citizen in New Jersey identified his state as a gardening or farming state.The Legislature overrode the governor's veto and Garden State was added to the license plate shortly after.

NJ's funniest license plates
courtesy of Amanda Stevens

It makes sense when I was a kid growing up in the Bronx we would go to Orchard Beach. That was fun but it was no Asbury Park. Going to New Jersey for me as a kid was such a great experience and a treat. The beach, boardwalk and food was all apart of the experience and New Jersey still provides those elements that makes this state the great Garden State.

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