How Did 300 Pounds of Pasta End Up in the Woods?

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images

The human race has done some unspeakable things to pasta. We’ve sauced it with plant-based Alfredo, dyed it rainbow in the name of home décor, and coated it in cornflakes and set it aflame in the microwave. However, I recently learned of a truly heinous pasta crime that took place, naturally, in New Jersey. Somewhere in the woods in the suburban town of Old Bridge, somebody dumped several hundred pounds of uncooked pasta on the ground.

Obviously, several follow-up questions come to mind: How did the pasta get there? Who would do such a thing? What kind of vehicle is required to even transport that much food?

According to an Old Bridge resident named Nina Jochnowitz, who appears to have been the first person called to the scene, the big dump happened sometime near the end of April. Jochnowitz, a community leader who frequently fields local complaints, told the New York Times that she’d received a call from a woman claiming to have stumbled on “a pile of pasta dumped on the side of the stream.” Jochnowitz, by her own account, rushed over to find an assortment of spaghetti, linguini, and penne collected in large muddy piles alongside a creek about 30 feet from the road.

Several different metrics have been offered to communicate just how much pasta was dumped: by Jochnowitz’s estimate, 300 to 500 pounds stretching over 25 feet. Or in the words of the town’s business administrator, Himanshu Shah, “15 wheelbarrow loads.” Shah informed the press via email that, once word of the pasta fiasco reached the Old Bridge Public Works Department, two employees managed to clean it up in less than an hour. Shah clarified that, contrary to Jochnowitz’s previous claim that the pasta was cooked, it had actually been left there in its dried form and glommed into an al dente mush (my words, not his) following several days of rain.

Meanwhile, after Jochnowitz posted photos of the offensive starch mounds to Facebook, the mystery took off. Residents have flooded local Facebook groups and Reddit threads with pasta puns, outraged diatribes on the town’s sanitation failures, and photos of noodles they threw on the ground for some reason. Already, amateur sleuths are pointing their fingers at a predictable list of culprits: Strega Nona, Christopher Moltisanti, The Super Mario Bros. Movie’s PR team.

Meanwhile, Jochnowitz told the Times that she is “in conversation with the family” that did the big pasta dump “via an individual who knows the family.” I’m sorry, what? I am going to need a lot more information. (So is Old Bridge’s police department.)

How Did 300 Pounds of Pasta End Up in the Woods?