“Bennies R Welcome” in Seaside Heights…


This message appears on the marquee of EJ’s tavern on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights.

“Bennies R Welcome” in Seaside Heights: It’s a rather unflattering term.  They are sometimes refered to as “bennies” or in the southern part of the county, “shoobies”.  In local vocabulary, these words are associated with out-of-town vacationers.  The terms have even been made it to the internet enclyclopedia Wikipedia, which says, “Jersey Shore locals (Generally from Ocean and Monmouth Counties) are known for their mild-mannered yet staunch disdain for rowdy tourists (shoobie or benny in the local vernacular), usually from the New York and Philadelphia Metropolitan Areas.”
         The truth is, some people are unfriendly to our local vacationers, but this is seen as a big mistake by people in the know. Like them or not, bennies, or shoobies are the life blood of tourism, which is the single biggest industry in this area, and offending them is not good business.  Just ask Belmar Mayor Ken Pringle, who refered to some New York visitors as “guidos and guidettes”, offensive terms for Italian Americans. Mayor Pringle faced heavy criticism in the big New York media, and was forced to eat a big plate of crow, embarking on a damage control “goodwill tour” following the remarks. 
     The lesson to be learned that is that it is never good practice to insult the people you put food on your table and a roof over your head.  Remember this the next time you go to use a derogatory term like benny, shooby, or guido.
      In Seaside Heights businesses like EJ’s tavern, aren’t shying away from the “bennies” business, and in fact have posted a message on their marquee, “Bennies Welcome”. 
     Some readers might be interested in a  bit of trivia.  The word “benny” is derived from the word “benefit”. Early Jersey Shore Vacationers were given free trips to the area as a “benefit” to get them interested in the area. The word “shooby” is said to have originated from vacationers who brought pack lunches to the area, often in shoe boxes.

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