Brash, outspoken and at just 4'9," Nicole Polizzi, or Snooki, first took reality TV and pop culture by storm back in 2009. Since then, she's surprised us, charmed us and most of all, made us laugh as one of the Jersey Shore kids whose lifestyle made them famous. How else would we know what a fist pump is?
Since the end of the first run of Jersey Shore, Snooki's been one of the few reality TV stars to transform her initial success into a sustained business model. She's had spinoff shows, including one with Snooki & JWoww. She's opened online and brick and mortar stores to sell fashion and merch. She's a social media star. Now Snooki is back on TV with Jersey Shore: Family Vacation.
You'd think we'd know just about everything there is to know about her. But, we've dug up some facts and trivia that hasn't typically come up on either show, old or new. Here are a few facts you may be surprised to learn about your fave reality TV star.
20 Snooki Is A Published Author...But She Doesn't Read Many Books
Snooki rose to fame with her boundless energy for drinking and partying with the gang. You wouldn't necessarily associate her with anything...literary. Yet, she's the published author of several books. She wrote the first in 2011, entitled "A Shore Thing," and quickly followed up with four more. Her latest one is "Strong is the New Sexy," which she published in 2015. Phew, that's a lot of writing!
19 She Loves Animals And Was Going To Be A Vet Tech
The flamboyant reality TV star has always had a soft spot for animals. Before getting married, Snooki posted pics of her adorable pets on social media. "My cat is like my best friend," she told People.
Before the opportunity to go on Jersey Shore came along, Nicole was studying to be a vet technician, and she'd apparently gotten pretty far. She told a reporter for GQ that she knew how to assist during surgery, administer anesthesia and even take blood.
She had to give up her cats for her hubby Jionni, who is allergic, though.
18 The Jersey Girl Was Born In Chile
Whether you'd call her Nicole or Snooki, there's no doubt that the reality TV star has come to represent the New Jersey Shore lifestyle. But, the Jersey Shore diva was actually born in Santiago, Chile. She doesn't know much about her biological parents, but as she related on Kocktails With Khloe, what she does know is that she was given up for adoption when she was six months old, as People reports.
“I actually found out... I [have] like 10 other brothers and sisters," she said. “I haven’t met them yet … I’m definitely open to going there and meeting them.”
17 "Snooki" Is A Nickname She Got In Junior High School
As Jersey Shore became a hit, the world came to know the stars by their nicknames - JWoww, Sammi Sweetheart, The Situation and so on. Catchy names helped to catapult the series to the top of the pop culture food chain.
At least in Nicole's case, the nickname wasn't just invented for the show. She's been going by Snooki since junior high days, inspired by the character of the same name from the movie Save The Last Dance. Apparently, Nicole was inspired by the fact that her movie heroine was the first in her group to kiss a boy.
Gawker reports that Snooki would like to be called Nicole now, though.
16 She's Not The Life Of The Party Anymore
Snooki played a big role in why the original Jersey Shore got to be such a phenomenon. With her tiny frame, she fist-pumped her way into reality TV stardom as a hard-partying twenty-something. That's the image many people still have of her, but nowadays, Nicole is a married mother of two, and truth be told, she doesn't party very much anymore - not unless the cameras are rolling on Jersey Shore: Family Vacation, that is.
15 Snooki Loves...Meditating?
In an interview with Aesthetic Magazine, Snooki talked about how much she's grown up since the early days of Jersey Shore. She's trying to eat healthy and exercise, and many of her social media posts are about #fitnessgoals. But, what might surprise most people is that Snooki is into meditation. She told the interviewer,
"I like to meditate a lot, I like to talk to the spirit world and to my spirit guide."
She said a friend who was a medium got her into the practice.
14 Her Nighttime Ritual
Snooki has made many lifestyle changes, but some old habits die hard. An example is her lifelong habit of falling asleep with the TV on. "I can't sleep comfortably without the TV on all night," she told Us Magazine. Having children probably hasn't helped, as she told The Mirror that she hadn't been able to sleep a wink after having her second child.
13 She Collects Coasters And Rocks
Social media has changed a lot of things about our everyday lives. We can document the places we visit, what we had for breakfast - anything we want. Before it, though, like the rest of us, Snooki had to collect coasters from the bars and restaurants she visited to prove she was there. No word on whether she's still got them. But, she did admit to collecting rocks in an interview, and says she has a closet full of them, according to Us Magazine.
12 The Polished Reality Star Is Clumsy
On her social media feeds, you see Nicole as a poised business woman, mother and wife. The Nicole Polizzi LaValle of today is a fashionista with picture-perfect makeup and stylish hair who takes flawless selfies even in a casual pic with her kids in the kitchen.
What we don't see, as she told Us Magazine, is that she's naturally clumsy. Some of us just seem to stumble a little more than others, and Snooki is apparently one of them. "I'm very clumsy," she said, "and I'm OK with it."
11 She Feels Like She Should Have Been Born In the 1950s or 1960s, And Loves Old Music
"I feel like I should have been born in the '50s or '60s." That's what Snooki told Us Magazine. You wouldn't really call her look retro or vintage, other than that trademark fabulous pouf, of course, but she says she loves "oldies music." Now, that's something we don't ever see on the show, where we've seen her dancing to EDM most of the time.
10 She Stays In Touch With Her Cheerleading Roots
Back in high school, Snooki was a cheerleader. It's no surprise that the bubbly girl we know from reality TV should be drawn to the acrobatic sport. It turns out that she's kept her ties to cheerleading over the years, and has even posted pics and videos of herself practising with a cheerleading squad on Instagram. On DWTS, Snooki showed off her cheerleading moves to millions, and we cheered.
9 Her Eating Habits
On Jersey Shore, no matter what else had gone down during the week, on Sundays there was always a big family dinner, and Italian comfort food was often on the menu. Nicole grew up in an Italian-American family in New Jersey, where we're sure there were many big dinners. It's probably where Snooki got her love of pasta.
As a mom, she's interested in healthy eating, but there are a couple of things she stipulates. Snooki hates fish, so we can assume that's never for dinner at her place. She also says - healthy or not - that she can't eat any kind of soup without tossing a handful of grated cheese on it, she tells Us Magazine.
8 She Loves Geeky Alien Sci-fi Movies & TV Shows
In addition to starring in one herself, Snooki has often talked about her love of reality TV. In fact, she signed up for Jersey Shore because she'd been a big fan of early shows like The Real World. But, it turns out her tastes are a lot more diverse than that. She's a secret sci-fi fan, with a special love of stories that involve aliens.
"I'm obsessed with movies that deal with the supernatural and humans as aliens," she told Us.
"Yeah, I'm weird."
7 She Calls Herself A "Closet Alternative-Rock Fan" And Makes Her Own Beats
On the show - both old and new - if there's music, it's likely to be electronic dance music or techno as a background to a night at the club. It seems that Nicole's taste in music, though, goes well beyond the genres you'd hear in a nightclub. She told Us that she's "a closet alternative-rock fan" although she didn't give us any details on her fave bands.
Now, lately with the new show, her The Snooki Shop clothing store, and baby number three on the way, we're imagining she's pretty busy. But, when she does find time, apparently she like to create her own beats.
"My hobby is making beats on my computer," she told Us. "Producing music on FruityLoops!
6 She Did The First Season Of Jersey Shore Basically To Party
Sure, nowadays Snooki is not just a reality TV star, but a business and a brand. She's got her own online brand, writes books, has a podcast and much more. But, back in the day, she did it all for love — love of reality TV, that is.
In fact, during the first year of Jersey Shore, the cast didn't even get paid in cash — they got a $200 gift certificate from Shore Store each week, Page Six reports. So, the fun and good times you saw on the show, they were all for reals.
5 She's Been Working Since She Was 13
Snooki grew up in an Italian-American family with pretty traditional values. She told an interviewer at InStyle that her parents emphasized the value of hard work, and she got her first job at age 13.
"I grew up in a middle class Italian family who taught me that you have to work for your money. They made me get a job at 13. I was a bus girl, and I got fired in two days because I didn’t want to clean other people’s crap."
She also worked in retail for a while, including a stint as a sales associate at Forever 21. In high school, she got a job at a local baseball stadium selling food and drinks, with good tips as a perk.
4 She Can't Drive In The City
Despite the TV glamour, Nicole insists that she lives the life of a suburban mom when the cameras are off. Sure, they probably take great holidays, but most of the time, it's family life just like you and me. Hmm...we're not so sure about that.
When chatting to InStyle, Snooki did admit to one regular expense — a car service when she goes into the city. "I always have to take a car service because I can’t drive in the city," she said. "The last time I did, I hit, like, seven cars."
3 She Makes Her Kids Do Chores
In-between martinis on Jersey Shore: Family Vacation, we've seen Nicole sniffling as she missed her two kids. She admits to spoiling them but she doesn't go OTT. She told InStyle:
"Even though I spoil them sometimes here and there, I want them to know that they have to work for their money just like my parents taught me. I’m already doing chores with my son and he’s in kindergarten.
I want to teach him that he can’t just get everything for free — he has to work for it."
2 Her Work Ethic
Despite the hard partying ways in which she's made her trademark on reality TV, there's more to Nicole Polizzi Lavalle than meets the eye. She calls herself a hard worker, and she'd actually been in the working world for years before she signed on for Jersey Shore. Retail, as anyone knows, that can be a trying experience when it comes to dealing with irate and pushy customers, but she had a successful stint working in fashion stores for a few years.
1 The Fist Pump Queen Is Really Shy Inside
"I'm actually really shy." Wait - what? The outgoing, no filter Snooki we've all come to know and love? Sure, we're surprised too, but that's what Snooki told interviewers at Us Magazine.
So maybe all the fist pumping and drinking dares of the first round of Jersey Shore were a clever disguise - a very, very clever disguise. It sure fooled us. At any rate, we can see that she's learned how to handle her natural shyness as she's emerged as a reality TV and social media star.
References: People, GQ, People, Gawker, The Mirror, Page Six