Residents of Old Bridge, New Jersey recently lived a scene that appeared to be straight out of Tommy de Paola's classic children's book Strega Nona, in which a magical pasta pot overflows and threatens to engulf a nearby town. Old Bridge residents found 227kg worth of pasta including spaghetti, elbows, and alphabet noodles, piled next to the flow of the river. The story went viral when spokeswoman Nina Jochnowitz posted on Facebook about the mysterious dumpling.
After a concerned citizen told her about it, Jochnowitz traveled to the area, snapped some photos and sent them to City Hall. Even though a team was dispatched to clean up the mess, the burning question of who left all the noodles remained unanswered. Local Facebook groups filled with questions about it and people went downstairs to take photos of the few remaining strips of pasta.
There are also numerous theories about the origin of pasta on Reddit. Some believed it was leftovers from a restaurant or large catering event, while others joked that it was left as an offering for the Jersey Shore occupation.
Eventually, the local NBC affiliate was able to solve the mystery simply by talking to a neighbour. Keith Rost, who lives nearby, solved the pasta mystery and said he knew who left the pasta. He claimed it was all from a house for sale that had been cleaned by a war veteran after his mother died. Apparently she had left a decent supply of food and he threw it into the forest.
"I mean, I really feel like he was just trying to clean out his parents' house and they were probably full of COVID," he shared in an interview, pointing out that it is a generational thing. "My grandparents always had a cupboard full of glasses and pasta, just in case."
Although the noodles look cooked in the photos, in reality this is not the case. It was thrown dry in the forest, but after a few days of rain it went limp. For Jochnowitz, the event is another reminder that there is no garbage collection point in the city of almost 70,000 inhabitants. Old Bridge is the only town in the county that does not have this service. "It's been the subject of controversy over the years," she told the New York Times.