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What is a typical American souvenir
November 22, 2006 8:27 AM   Subscribe

What is a classic American Souvenir?

I am visiting the States and my coworkers in New Zealand are expecting some little peice of America when I get back. Given customs restrictions wine/liquor is limited and foodstuffs most likely will be confiscated. Any ideas?
posted by arruns to Shopping (40 answers total)
 
Wall Drug bumper sticker.
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:28 AM on November 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


Baseball caps from the yankees or red sox.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:30 AM on November 22, 2006


State mascot refrigerator magnets. Bonus points for the Maine lobster magnets that double as bottle openers.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:31 AM on November 22, 2006


I |heart| New York t-shirt.
posted by substrate at 8:34 AM on November 22, 2006


There's no one American souvenir that's best. It really depends on where you are. Here in Texas you migth get him a belt buckle or a stuffed armadillo (a British friend of mine seemed to really like that one) or something else cowboy/regional related. In New York you might go with the above suggestions, in San Francisco you might get a little Golden Gate statue, etc.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:37 AM on November 22, 2006


Statue of Liberty snow globe.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 8:37 AM on November 22, 2006


How about a Mounted Jackalope? It's a fictional gag creature created by a taxidermist, and it'll be fun to convince people it's real and thriving here in the States.

Say you shot this one.
posted by MasD at 8:50 AM on November 22, 2006


What Sangermaine said.

If you want to be tacky, pick something up out of the ariport gift shop when you get to your destination.

If you want to avoid kitsch, most communities have some store where you can pick up local artwork, postcards, and publications for a reasonable cost.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:54 AM on November 22, 2006


It's going to be as difficult to find Americana souvenirs as it is going to be for you to find air to breathe. They're equally as common, no matter how small of a town you find yourself in. However, because Americana souvenirs are also highly localized to wherever you're visiting, it's a more a deal of looking around when you get to where you're going ... especially in any gift stores, snack shops, etc. in the major transportation hubs (airports, etc.) along your travel route.
posted by WCityMike at 8:56 AM on November 22, 2006


When my in-laws were visiting from Beijing, Mr. wanted a Statue of Liberty figurine. A good one was surprisingly hard to find. Guess where it was made.

I'd go with a W bobblehead.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:06 AM on November 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


Any American iconic thing - the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge, Mt. Rushmore, the White House - encased in a snow globe.
posted by pdb at 9:22 AM on November 22, 2006


A copy of Jane and Michael Stern's Roadfood.
posted by brujita at 9:39 AM on November 22, 2006


A smashed penny.
posted by fixedgear at 9:41 AM on November 22, 2006


A discarded Big Mac wrapper.
posted by orthogonality at 9:50 AM on November 22, 2006


Something rustic carved from wood, purchased at a roadside market.
posted by Rash at 9:52 AM on November 22, 2006


Elvis snow globe.
posted by raysmj at 10:09 AM on November 22, 2006


Anything with a folk-art feel that uses the American Flag as its theme.
posted by anastasiav at 10:09 AM on November 22, 2006


state spoons!
posted by nimsey lou at 10:15 AM on November 22, 2006


The first time I went to the States, most of my friends got baseballs as souvenirs. Not the greatest thing ever, but they are cheap, non-perishable and fun to throw around.
posted by teleskiving at 10:35 AM on November 22, 2006


A tiny statue of liberty figurine.
posted by deafmute at 10:40 AM on November 22, 2006


I'd go with a Zippo lighter. Inexpensive, useful, and distinctly American.
posted by quin at 10:46 AM on November 22, 2006


Calvin peeing on [inset thing you are prejudice against here]. *ducks*
posted by smallerdemon at 10:47 AM on November 22, 2006


Stop in a drugstore (Walgreens, for example) and you'll see an aisle of locally-themed souvenirs. Take your pick. I've encountered this (and purchased said souvenirs) at Walgreens in San Francisco and San Antonio, and at other chain drug stores in other cities.
posted by Robert Angelo at 10:53 AM on November 22, 2006


The *_______* snowglobe is (I would say) the iconic USian souvenir.

Nearly every tourist sight has a snowglobe
posted by Megafly at 11:19 AM on November 22, 2006


Modern American Souvenir - If they're into American politics, Jon Stewart's Guide to Democracy, but perhaps that's too specific.
Based on my experience with customs all over the world (although not NZ, sadly, but Australia), a unopened sealed bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups is distinctly American and awesome.
posted by lilithim at 11:24 AM on November 22, 2006


A pair of plastic pink flamingos.
posted by klarck at 11:40 AM on November 22, 2006


Levi's!
posted by lannanh at 11:42 AM on November 22, 2006


1. Go into any fastfood joint and ask for some of their Endless Gulletâ„¢ size cups.
2. Get the manager to sign a deposition that you haven't had these custom-made.
3. Purchase separate piece of luggage at airport for same.
4. Astonish your Kiwi friends.
5. Retain a cup for your use. Fill once with tapwater; notify water company in advance.
6. Enjoy your piece of America: water lawn and garden for balance of summer without refilling.
posted by rob511 at 11:57 AM on November 22, 2006


It really depends on where you're going, I'm assuming you're looking for kitschy though, and you can't beat either shot glasses from whatever state you're in or thimbles.
posted by drezdn at 12:16 PM on November 22, 2006


Are you going to be here long enough for mail delivery after an ebay auction? (Two weeks should be sufficient for the cheapest ground shipping option, or you could pay extra for expedited shipping) If so, there are all sorts of things - perhaps a cold war Civil Defense geiger counter.
Maybe a Route 66 sign,
I'm planning on getting people some space-program "Astronaut" (dehydrated) icecream.
Many gift/souvenir places sell little tins of National Embarrass-mints.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:39 PM on November 22, 2006


I also like the idea of making a gift basket, but using rob511's suggestion as the basket :)

Fill it with cheap things that are similarly totally mundane but distinctly American, eg mustard condiments.

While the range of confectionary is much better in NZ, there seem to be more flavours of jelly belly / jelly bean in the US, so perhaps a wide selection of baby jelly bellys.

Also - depending on your friends, MRE's or US military surplus.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:50 PM on November 22, 2006


Does that restriction on foodstuffs apply to pre-packaged manufactured goods? If not, how about a genuine US-made can of Coca-Cola with high-fructose corn syrup instead of sugar, packaged in a strange non-metric-sized can?
posted by Robert Angelo at 1:33 PM on November 22, 2006


Cowboy hat.
posted by afx237vi at 1:35 PM on November 22, 2006


A fire hydrant.

I've been on numerous business trips (from the UK) with people whose ideal souvenir of the US was a genuine fire hydrant. The cost of tracking them down and shipping them home is stupendous, but a lot of Brits do it.
posted by veedubya at 1:36 PM on November 22, 2006


I'd go with a Zippo lighter. Inexpensive, useful, and distinctly American.

Like American singing icon Neil Young, orginally created in Canada
posted by Deep Dish at 1:43 PM on November 22, 2006


Coins used as money. Pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half-dollars, dollars.

They are easy to find and all contain some type of American history or symbol. Especially the recent "States" quarters series.

As a souvenir they are great because they are not valuable enough to convert to your local spendable money (meaning they wont get spent where you are) and they are designed to last for decades.

Good luck and welcome to the States! I hope you enjoy your time here!
posted by sandra_s at 2:21 PM on November 22, 2006


Does that restriction on foodstuffs apply to pre-packaged manufactured goods?

No. Admittedly the sniffer dogs got me for a loaf of bread once (I think because it had raisins baked into it), but I've brought processed pre-packaged food (snacks) through. I declare it, and they're fine with it. (There is also an instant fine for failing to declare prohibited foods)

However the airlines are currently treating fluids as a security risk, so make sure they're checked, not carry-on, and check the current state of things before you leave (airport security policy is in a constant state of whimsical flux).

posted by -harlequin- at 2:46 PM on November 22, 2006


Deep Dish : Like American singing icon Neil Young, orginally created in Canada

Are you sure? Both Wiki and zippocanada disagree.
posted by quin at 3:05 PM on November 22, 2006


A discarded Big Mac wrapper.

The beagles will pick up on that for sure, don't do it.

When I went to the states I brought back baseball caps and souvenir tee shirts. They went down very well back here. Flags are also good because the whole flag idolation thing over there is weird.

But mostly I second looking around wherever you are and finding something that sums up the parts of the US you go to. Souvenir items are ubiquitous, you won't have any trouble.
posted by shelleycat at 12:27 AM on November 23, 2006


Nearly every tourist sight has a snowglobe

In some regions, be advised these are known as snow domes.

A tiny statue of liberty figurine.

If you went to NYC... the equivalent DC souvenir is a miniature Washington Monument, with a tiny thermometer on one side.
posted by Rash at 9:55 AM on November 26, 2006


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