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New Jersey Cultural Symbols

New Jersey has five to eight official cultural symbols, and they’re a can of worms. Where do I begin?

Cultural Symbols  
Colors buff and Jersey blue 1965
Juice cranberry juice 2023
Dog Seeing Eye® dog 2020
Tall Ship A.J. Meerwald 1998
Folk Dance square dance Redundant Symbol 1983
Ship USS New Jersey 2017
New Jersey Cultural SymbolsLeft to right: A. J. Meerwald, state colors and square dancers.

I’ll discuss the worst of the lot on another page, political symbols. The worst symbol I’ll mention on this page is the square dance, which is simply very redundant, representing far too many states.

Cranberry juice and seeing eye dogs are a step up, though not unique designations.

Actually, New Jersey’s state dog is the Seeing Eye® dog. The Seeing Eye, Inc. is a guide dog school located in Morristown, New Jersey. It is the oldest guide dog school in the U.S. and one of the largest. Guide dogs trained in New Jersey find homes across the U.S. and Canada.

New Jersey State Dog

In my opinion, New Jersey’s best cultural symbols are its state colors and tall ship. The colors trace their origin to the Revolutionary War. During the war, General George Washington directed soldiers from New Jersey to wear dark blue coats faced with buff. They were further directed to adopt a flag using the same colors.

Washington presumably chose these colors for historic reasons. New York and New Jersey were both originally settled by the Dutch, and dark blue (Jersey blue) and buff were the colors of Holland (aka the Netherlands).

The A.J. Meerwald is one of hundreds of oyster dredging schooners that were built along South Jersey’s Delaware Bay shore. (New Jersey’s nicknames include Clam State.) The ship-building industry declined during the Great Depression Of course, populations of oysters and other marine animals have declined as well.

If you want to learn about New Jersey’s decommissioned battleship and poet laureate, continue reading here.