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Did Someone Really Dump 500 Pounds of Cooked Pasta in the New Jersey Woods?

To what end, people? To what end??

A mound of uncooked macaroni.

When I first heard it I thought it was a joke, but no, apparently it’s true—some mysterious weirdo really did go and dump a few hundred pounds of cooked pasta out in the woods near a place called Old Bridge in New Jersey.

The news broke to (or possibly just straight up broke) the internet via the Old Bridge Parents 2.0 Facebook page, where a former candidate for city council, Nina Jochnowitz, shared photographs of the massive pasta spills just laying out in the forest. From there Twitter user Ali Allocco, now understandably going by “pasta girl” on the site, recognized the inalienable truth that we all needed to be made aware of this miracle. Allocco brought the good carby news to Twitter, where Emily Bloch of the Philadelphia Inquirer picked it up and worked hard to uncover everything we now know about New Jersey’s marinara mountain range.

While Jochnowitz was focused on the pasta piles as a means to criticize the mayor, as well as the potential health hazard posed by mountains of food waste just left out in the open, pretty much everyone else was gripped with childish delight. The pasta mounds were immediately dubbed the Great Macaroni Mystery of 2023, Mission Impastable, and “the most New Jersey thing ever,” even sparking the creation of its own Facebook group, 500 Pounds of Pasta! A True Crime Story, dedicated to solving this strange food dumping conspiracy.

Though reports vary on whether the pasta was cooked or simply “wet from rain,” it is this journalist’s highly professional opinion that at least some of the pasta was cooked and dressed with sauce, just from looking at the photographs. However, we can confirm that shortly after the pasta was discovered, it was all cleaned up by Public Works officials, possibly armed with a wheelbarrow (the measurement they provided of how much pasta there actually was out there came in units of wheelbarrows, 15 to be precise, so it seems likely). As to who dumped it? That remains a mystery, at least for now, though speculation about potential suspects, some more serious than others, are being floated online. Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry, however, told the AP he doesn’t see this as a priority and hopes the police aren’t putting time and resources into solving this mystery.

Although the pasta may be gone, its legacy lives on, through the sheer happiness it’s brought all good denizens of the internet. Even Jochowitz, who was clearly very annoyed by the irresponsible and unsanitary behavior of the dumpees, wasn’t immune to its charms, cheerfully telling the Philadelphia Inquirer “It was like the song, on top of spaghetiiiii, all covered with cheese.” With an entire Reddit post dedicated to pasta pile puns and seemingly endless jokes about it on Twitter there’s enough material out there to brighten your day for some time to come.

However, as much fun as we’ve all had with this, it bears noting that Jochowitz and others had very good reason to upset by the discovery. In addition to the fact that large amounts of abandoned food like that will attract proportionally large numbers of animals, potentially making them sick (as pasta, surprisingly, isn’t good for woodland creatures) and disrupting the eco-system, pasta has a ph level that’s going to have a negative effect on the water system when introduced to it in large quantities—and the pasta mounds were abandoned near local water sources that the township relies on. Mayor Henry also made a salient point, noting, “Assuming the pasta was still usable, I wish it had ended up in our food bank, which could have really used it.”

Fortunately, the pasta was cleaned up incredibly quickly—according to Jochowitz, it was one of the fastest cleanups she’s ever seen—but it being dumped out there in the first place is indicative of a bigger problem with the local area and how it handles both waste and pollution. “When it rains here, it smells like sewage,” Jochowitz told the Philadelphia Inquirer, while half of the 300 tires her voluntary clean-up crew pulled out of the estuary lake are still awaiting removal by the township. Hopefully, this speedy pasta removal marks a new leaf for the local government’s response to waste management, and not just a… OK I can’t think of a pasta pun but you get my point.

(featured image: Snezhana Kudryavtseva/Getty Images)

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Siobhan Ball (she/her) is a contributing writer covering news, queer stuff, politics and Star Wars. A former historian and archivist, she made her first forays into journalism by writing a number of queer history articles c. 2016 and things spiralled from there. When she's not working she's still writing, with several novels and a book on Irish myth on the go, as well as developing her skills as a jeweller.