A concerned citizen called the city of Old Bridge, New Jersey, to report piles of cooked pasta piled in a local park — the origin of which is still unknown.
Usually, the last thing a hiker would expect to find when trekking into the woods for a peaceful afternoon in nature is 500 pounds of cooked pasta lining the forest floor.
This surprise came to the residents of Old Bridge, New Jersey, this week, prompting questions of how so much pasta could have ended up near a stream in the city’s Veterans Park and, more importantly, why.
Nina Jochnowitz, a former candidate for Old Bridge city counselor, first heard of the bizarre event after a concerned resident contacted her. It was something she had to see for herself, so she went out to the area and snapped pictures of the mysterious pasta before posting them on Facebook.
Immediately after discovering the pasta, Jochnowitz reached out to city officials and the public works department.
The bizarre incident immediately garnered attention online, promptly invoking a slew of pasta puns:
“Sounds like the work of Rig-a-Tony!” one observer commented on Reddit.
“Lead suspect is a guy named Al Dente.”
“Don’t forget his partner Lin Guini.”
“We should send the perpetrators to the state penne tentiary,” another user wrote.
Jochnowitz, too, found humor in the event, telling The Philadelphia Inquirer “It was like the song, on top of spaghetiiiii, all covered with cheese.”
Although the situation is humorous, Jochnowitz says it’s not all fun and games.
“You might say, ‘Who cares about pasta?’ But pasta has a PH level that will impact the water stream,” she told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “That water stream is important to clean up because it feeds into the town’s water supply.”
Given these concerns, the city’s public works department cleaned up the pasta hours after Jochnowitz’s initial post.
While Jochnowitz is happy that city officials have quickly removed the pasta, she notes that no one is sure how long the pasta had been there, making it difficult to pinpoint who could be responsible.
Additionally, many online speculated whether the pasta was cooked or just wet from the rain and exposure, but Jochnowitz confirmed that the pasta was indeed cooked.
“It looked like someone filled up a wheelbarrow of pasta and dumped it,” she said to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Even more mysterious is why someone would dump so much cooked pasta there in the first place.
Citizens of Old Bridge speculate that the city’s lack of bulk garbage pickup and ongoing issues with illegal dumping may explain how the pasta ended up in the forest, but officials haven’t confirmed this.
For now, solving the mystery is “Mission Impastable,” according to Jochnowitz.