A judge in Wisconsin struck down a ban, leaving the Garden State as the lone holdout.
It's the American dream: whip up a few batches of your Nana's famous zucchini bread, sell it to friends and neighbors, let word of mouth spread, and voila! You're a self-baked millionaire! But that scenario should come with an asterisk: "*offer not available in New Jersey." The Garden State is now the last place in the country that won’t let people sell their own home-baked goods.
New Jersey earned the odd honor thanks to a Wisconsin judge who struck down that state’s baked good ban last month, leaving Jersey as the only remaining state with such a ban on the books. (For the record, Wisconsin said it plans to appeal that judge’s decision.) According to the Associated Press, a New Jersey group has been working to overturn its state’s law for eight years, but State Senator Joseph Vitale has blocked the measure over public health concerns. Home-baker advocates believe that stance doesn’t ring true.
Mandy Coriston – who is part of the group fighting to legalize it (aka her great-grandmother’s Irish soda bread recipe) – points out that the health argument doesn’t quite make sense since selling baked goods for charity is legal. “Same ingredients. Same kitchens. Same bakers that want to do this for profit,” she told the AP. “But the second you put a price tag on it, that baked good becomes illegal, it becomes contraband basically.” Erica Jedynak of Americans for Prosperity who is helping the at-home bakers lobby the government, also pointed out the hypocrisy. “These women can give their baked goods away for free,” she said.
For his part, Vitale says he is meeting with the bakers’ group and is discussing the measure with other lawmakers. “I'm just trying to do this the right way,” he was quoted as saying. That includes provisions in New Jersey’s proposed bill include a $50,000 cap on income and a new requirement that home bakers take a food safety course.
“We're not giving up," said Coriston. “We're very encouraged (by the Wisconsin decision) and also a little disheartened because that does leave us alone.” Let's just hope the next Christina Tosi or Dominique Ansel aren't frittering their talents away in Hoboken.