Bennys and shoobies begin annual trek to the Jersey Shore, Say what?

Ocean CIty, NJ Boardwalk

SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ – The Jersey Shore is an iconic coastal destination known for its stunning beaches, lively boardwalks, and unique culture. When visiting this beloved region, you might hear locals using terms like “shoobie” and “benny” to describe certain beachgoers. But where do these words come from, and what do they mean? Let’s take a closer look at the origin of these intriguing expressions.

First, don’t get offended if you’re called a benny or shoobie. You probably just did something locals don’t normally see in the off-season. It’s not really an offensive term. In fact, it’s just another way of saying ‘tourist’.

And yes, locals, as much as they complain about shoobies and bennies, love their presence because they fuel the Jersey Shore economy each year.

“Shoobie” is a term commonly used by locals at the Jersey Shore to refer to day-trippers or tourists who visit the beaches for the day and typically bring their own lunch in shoeboxes or coolers. The term is believed to have originated in the early to mid-20th century when beachgoers would arrive at the shore carrying their provisions in shoeboxes, hence the nickname “shoobie.” It was a way for locals to distinguish between those who packed their lunches and those who purchased food from the boardwalk eateries.

Over time, the term “shoobie” has evolved to describe anyone who visits the Jersey Shore for a day trip, regardless of their culinary choices. While some may view the term as playful or endearing, it can sometimes carry a hint of localism, highlighting the divide between longtime residents and seasonal visitors.

“Shoobie” is common in the southern parts of the Jersey Shore, while in the north, the word “benny” is preferred.

Similarly, the term “benny” is often used to describe tourists who visit the Jersey Shore from nearby metropolitan areas, particularly those coming from New York and northern New Jersey. The origin of the term “benny” is less clear, but several theories exist.

One theory suggests that the term “benny” derives from an acronym for “Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, and New York” — areas from which many vacationers historically originated. Another theory suggests that “benny” comes from the Hebrew word “beni,” meaning “son” or “my son,” which was used by Jewish residents to refer to visitors from the city.

Regardless of its exact etymology, “benny” has become a commonly used term along the Jersey Shore to describe summer visitors, often associated with their distinct behaviors and attire. While it can sometimes carry a connotation of being an outsider or someone who doesn’t fully understand the local culture, it is important to note that not all visitors to the Jersey Shore are referred to as “bennies,” and the term should not be used to generalize or stereotype individuals.

These unique words, “shoobie” and “benny,” have become a part of the Jersey Shore’s cultural lexicon. While they may initially seem exclusive or derogatory, it’s essential to recognize that they are often used in a light-hearted manner and as a way for locals to identify and distinguish between different groups of visitors.

As the Jersey Shore continues to attract millions of visitors each year, the use of these terms has become a way for residents to maintain a sense of identity and pride in their coastal communities. Understanding the origin and meaning of these words adds a layer of depth to the rich tapestry of the Jersey Shore’s unique culture and traditions.

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