What to put in a care package to Australia, from America?
July 11, 2009 3:31 PM   Subscribe

My Australian friend sent me a lovely package of Australian goods (Marmite, Vegemite, Aero, Tim Tams, Jaffa, Violet Crumble, Chokito...), and I'd like to reciprocate. But I'm clueless as to what American things are rarities in Australia. Any suggestions of what I can send? FWIW, my friend is in Newcastle, I'm in Los Angeles.
posted by Xere to Food & Drink (60 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Keep in mind... What Can't Be Mailed To Australia?
posted by smackfu at 3:37 PM on July 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Don't send him American stuff, send him Mexican stuff. Go browse a Mexican grocery store.

Be sure to include two or three kinds of Mexican hot sauce!
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:40 PM on July 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Maybe something non-perishable from this list.
posted by nikkorizz at 3:44 PM on July 11, 2009

Oops, I mean this list. I accidentally gave you the link to my comment.
When selecting a food item, be sure to make sure it's allowed.
I also second the idea sending him Mexican stuff since most American things are already available in Australia.
posted by nikkorizz at 3:48 PM on July 11, 2009

Every Austrialian I've ever known has swooned at the mere mention of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.
posted by ceri richard at 3:49 PM on July 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

Send your friend classic American stuff: classic chocolate bars, oreos, reeces pieces (sp? the peanut butter things?). As an Aussie, now living in Europe, these would be cool to receive IMO.
posted by mahke at 3:50 PM on July 11, 2009

Peanut butter type candies are something they don't seem to have much of there. When I was at the Sydney MeFi Meetup this is what was mentioned most of all.
posted by jessamyn at 4:01 PM on July 11, 2009

Seconding Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, which I have sent to an Aussie friend in bulk numerous times.
posted by jocelmeow at 4:04 PM on July 11, 2009

Thirding Reeses. I had an Australian friend who was just bonkers over them and said she couldn't get them back home. I'm not sure how to combat the melting aspect of summer/aussie heat and mailing, though.
posted by theantikitty at 4:12 PM on July 11, 2009

I'm not sure how to combat the melting aspect of summer/aussie heat and mailing, though.

That's why God gave us Reese's Pieces.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:14 PM on July 11, 2009

Marshmallow Fluff.
posted by paperzach at 4:15 PM on July 11, 2009

I would second hot sauce. Hot sauce here extends to Tabasco
posted by mattoxic at 4:23 PM on July 11, 2009

Maple syrup
Canned Boston brown bread (must be heated to be enjoyed)
Cracker Jacks
Twinkies (sorry, but it had to be said)
And a can of Ortega Green Chiles
posted by SLC Mom at 4:30 PM on July 11, 2009

American sweet and Australian "sweet" are totally different standards, so I probably wouldn't go for confectionery unless you know your friend has a super-sweet tooth. As mentioned above, a lot of the more popular American things like Oreos and Hershey's kisses are available in our supermarkets.

A lot of convenience gadgets are ridiculously expensive here or simply not available at all, so you might be able to find a whole heap of items which aren't available here at your local two dollar shop. Again, our quarantine regulations could present a problem if these items aren't manufactured from synthetic materials, so craft-type items can be a problem.

By and large, books are really expensive here and so are magazines. I'm a reader, so I'd be thrilled to get half a dozen magazines from another country (in general, the few overseas ones the local newsagent stocks are going to be up around the $AUD20 mark here, so people aren't going to buy them to "check them out").
posted by Lolie at 4:31 PM on July 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

I loved peanut butter M&M's. You could buy peanut M&M's but I just loved the peanut butter ones!
posted by avex at 4:41 PM on July 11, 2009

Yoder's Canned Bacon - not to be found here for love nor money.
Twinkies (surely these are classed as non-perishable?)
Any kind of BBQ or Hot Sauce
Canned Mexican goods

And regarding Aussie heat, if you send them now you'll only have to worry about US heat - it's bloody cold (<1>
(Also, definitely nth-ing Reeces Pieces!!)
posted by ninazer0 at 4:49 PM on July 11, 2009

When I was living in australia, bath and body products were ridiculously expensive compared to here in the US. If you are sending to a woman, I would consider a gift basket of US shower gels, shampoos, soaps etc.
posted by slateyness at 4:54 PM on July 11, 2009

Skor bar!
Seconding grits (what IS that?)
But forget Doritos, that's a major chip brand here. Maybe out-there flavours of potato chip though? Dill Pickle I've never come across here.
posted by springbound at 4:57 PM on July 11, 2009

Gotta be the voice of dissent here: Peanut Butter Cups and Reese's Pieces are regularly available at 7-11's and most Coles/Woolworths supermarkets (in QLD and VIC at least). I personally would appreciate a nice range of American hot sauces, which we are in dire need of.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:13 PM on July 11, 2009

For Cali-Mexican, I strongly suggest any green sauce and Chupa-chups candy suckers.

(And to dissent: Peanut butter cups, Reese's Pieces and Tabasco are all available in Australia.)
posted by rokusan at 5:17 PM on July 11, 2009

Kool Aid too - you can get it in dedicated American sweets stores, but I don't know that there'd be one in Newcastle. (And anyway, if there was, anything you send will doubtless still be fine as those stores are expensive and not really anywhere you'd regularly go buying new stuff just to try it!)
posted by springbound at 5:19 PM on July 11, 2009

Sending marshmallow fluff is essentially a declaration of war. I wouldn't do it.
There are stores dedicated to American sweets in Australia? I weep for both of our nations.

I'm in agreement with those above who recommend Mexican goods (LA! Easily accessible Mexican stuff!) over specifically American goods.
posted by zerokey at 5:32 PM on July 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

The concept store Kiosk has done two "exhibits" focused on American-made goods (this one and this one.
posted by val5a at 5:33 PM on July 11, 2009

combat the melting aspect of summer/aussie heat and mailing, though.

It's winter there, only mid-60s for the high in Newcastle. Just freeze candy before sending and perhaps that will help with the melting while stateside.

If peanut butter stuff is lacking there, your friend might get a kick out of those cheese+peanut butter cracker sandwiches. Also, PB filled oreos.

A variety of regional BBQ sauces/rubs (st. louis, texas, carolina, etc.) might be novel. Sauce packets might be good, too. Like the dry ranch dressing packets, biscuit gravy and other sauce mixes. The different sauce and gravy packets in other countries is always interesting to me.

I have a friend in France who asked me to send masa and dried corn husks so she could try to make tamales because she kept reading about them on blogs.

Checking out internet food shops that cater to american expats in australia might be helpful in determining what american. Try here, here and here. Since these stores do operate in Australia, an australian can technically purchase these things, but for most of the items, I think they'd have to be American to know what to look for or know what they're missing, so using the stores as a guide shouldn't be counter-productive.
posted by necessitas at 5:40 PM on July 11, 2009

Dr Pepper
Sugar cereal
Salsa/hot sauce
posted by lunalaguna at 5:44 PM on July 11, 2009

Not sure how the selection compares in Australia vs. New Zealand, but I did a candy swap with someone in NZ who requested and was very excited to try Reese's cups and Reese's Pieces, Twinkies, and Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Pops.
posted by LolaGeek at 5:45 PM on July 11, 2009

This thread might be handy as well. Most of the things you won't be able to send, but it might get you thinking about the ingredients for typical regional american dishes. For instance, you can't send MD blue crabs or a crawfish boil, but you can certainly send a can of old bay seasoning and some new orleans seasoning (whatever it's called).
posted by necessitas at 5:46 PM on July 11, 2009

new orleans seasoning (whatever it's called)

In terms of brands, it's called Zatarain's Crab Boil and Tony Chachere's seasoning
posted by Pants! at 5:59 PM on July 11, 2009

Oh! Oh! Oh! Poppycock Gourmet Popcorn! A friend brought some back from the States years ago and I loved it. Crackerjacks not so much but the Poppycock stuff was great! The pecan stuff was my favourite.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:07 PM on July 11, 2009

And for lulz, some bum wine.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:08 PM on July 11, 2009

Do they have blackstrap molasses over there? I like it, though it's an acquired taste, though they *did* expect you to eat Vegemite, seems only fair.
posted by citron at 6:12 PM on July 11, 2009

While the Reese's pieces may be obtainable in Australia, they're certainly not prolific (I've never seen them anywhere in Sydney and would snap them up if I could). Oreos and Dr. Pepper, on the other hand, are quite common here. Twinkies and the like aren't so common here and would go down well (and I will add myself to the sample size of Australians who would love peanut butter choccies).

The hot sauce is also a good idea, you can get tabasco here but something bought from a Mexican food store would be a treat. Good smokey treats such as smokey BBQ sauce would go down well too.

Another thing I find to be largely elusive is proper Maple Syrup. I mostly just see 'Maple-flavoured syrup' in supermarkets.

I wouldn't worry too much about the existence of American specialty stores in Australia as Newcastle is probably too small to warrant one.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 6:26 PM on July 11, 2009

Yes on the blackstrap molasses - the king of molasseses! - but no on salt water taffy, which you didn't mention but would likely be interesting for an Australian to try.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:27 PM on July 11, 2009

And for lulz, some bum wine.

That would only be fair if Xere's Australian friend sent him/her some goon.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 6:27 PM on July 11, 2009

I send York peppermint patties & Twizzlers. Aussie licorice is very different (very good, but very different). Also, peanut butter ice cream topping which can be gotten if you know to look for it but is insanely expensive.
posted by clarkstonian at 6:59 PM on July 11, 2009

For anyone who tasted something in the US and hasn't been able to find it back here, usafoods.com.au seems to stock lots of quirky stuff at reasonable prices. Can't believe there's such a beast as Dr Pepper marinade!

For Sydney-siders, Sugar-fix has 4 Sydney stores and also does online orders.
posted by Lolie at 7:04 PM on July 11, 2009

AFAICT, Australian are in love with stubby holders (beer cozies). So you might want to throw in one for a local team.
posted by smackfu at 7:11 PM on July 11, 2009

I don't know if they have Take 5 bars there, but they're basically the greatest candy ever invented.
posted by paperzach at 7:13 PM on July 11, 2009

Chupa-chups are widely available in Australia (and have been since the 1970s). I'm not sure blackstrap molasses would be that exciting - we're particular about our inverted sugar products, though we do find a use for molasses.
posted by zamboni at 7:41 PM on July 11, 2009

MetaTalk thread, if anybody is hankering.
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:52 PM on July 11, 2009

How about a selection of chewing gums? Those mail easily and vary in large part from country to country. Like there's a popular gum in Australia called PK, but who's ever even heard of that here? It would be fun to sample things like that. I know they've got Juicy Fruit and Extra and Hubba Bubba already, but not, for example, Big Red. Wrigley's Australia says, "Big Red is not on sale in Australia & New Zealand on a continual basis. We have made formulation changes to the Big Red product made in the USA and will from time to time, release limited stocks to satisfy consumer demand." So there's one.

Jolly Ranchers?

Given their nonpeanutbutteriness, Butterfinger candy bars might also be cool.

Girl Scout cookies - Thin Mints and Samoas.

I think Mexican stuff is a great idea... but that's because I'm from here. When I was there, I couldn't figure out why there were no Mexican restaurants! I mean they're on every corner, right? Duh. Figured it out later. When I finally found one run by American ex-pats, I almost cried. It sucked and yet was so welcome. But if they don't have a natural Mexican tooth, it might not be as cool for them. Hot sauce seems like a nice compromise since you can put that on all sorts of things.
posted by kookoobirdz at 8:16 PM on July 11, 2009

If you were sending to me, I would request:

Big Red gum. Sure you can get it here, I think, but I haven't seen it.
Reeses. ditto. Send them anyway.

Cheerwine! (Can you get that in LA?)

Maple Essence. Fantastic for making your own "maple syrup" (fake, obviously). Or give them the real stuff! People don't seem to be into it that much here.

Jolly Ranchers are a novelty, as are airheads. Spices and stuff are a good idea too.

Is this person familiar with the USA? Why don't you compile a list and ask them if they can get their hands on any of the products?
posted by titanium_geek at 8:20 PM on July 11, 2009

Maybe some jellies/jams made from marionberries, loganberries, other local crops. Jalapeno jelly?

I had a friend from Sweden who was really keen to get her hands on some Bisquick. On quick googling it doesn't look like Bisquick is readily available in Australia. Not sure what the dried egg quotient is - check to see if it runs afoul of customs.

Buffalo wings sauce

A can of clams and a recipe for clam chowder

Dry rub - lighter than bbq sauce for mailing
posted by lakeroon at 8:49 PM on July 11, 2009

Powered coffee creamer/whitener?

Or is that Germany where that's popular...?
posted by karizma at 9:28 PM on July 11, 2009

Anything peanut butter flavoured. Anything cinnamon flavoured. Anything grape flavoured. Anything cherry flavoured. Anything maple flavoured. You can get them here, but they're rare. And dill pickle flavoured? Seriously? Ew.

I have never seen a twinkie here. I don't even know what a tootsie roll is.

Don't bother sending chocolate unless you know they like american chocolate. Hersheys tastes terrible compared to aussie chocolate unless your friend has a serious sweet tooth.
posted by kjs4 at 9:29 PM on July 11, 2009

Ooh, and the wavey multigrained cheese flavoured chip thingies. I don't know what they are called, but I was addicted.
posted by kjs4 at 9:31 PM on July 11, 2009

I think you're thinking of Sun Chips.
posted by smackfu at 10:12 PM on July 11, 2009

root beer?
and maple things.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:55 PM on July 11, 2009



I think kjs4 is thinking of Sun Chips or Ruffles. Full List here
posted by lysdexic at 12:52 AM on July 12, 2009

We're a family who once lived in LA and are now living in Australia, and we like to have the following sent to us from family in the States:
• Franks Hot Sauce - we start to panic when stocks get low.
• Bounce sheets - I know, wierd, but they don't exist here, and we're kinda addicted to the smell on our dryer clothes.
• Heath Bars - yummy.
• Beaver Brand Hot and Sweet Mustard - that's the absolute king, and so great with a BBQ in the summer.
• Mexican goods like Mexican chocolate for hot chocolate, cans of chipotles peppers in adobo sauce, tomatillos. Dried peppeers would be great but they would never make it through customs.
• Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. Novelty factor is high here... we just don't eat peanut butter as a snack like Americans do.
• Liquid smoke, so your friends can make really good BBQ sauce. Yeah, purist don't like it, but I do.
• BBQ Sauce - we like Sweet Baby Rays. BBQ sauce is just better in the USA.

Quick tip: Customs in Australia is extremely strict, and any plant goods just won't make it through.
posted by lottie at 2:31 AM on July 12, 2009

Powered coffee creamer/whitener?

Heh... please don't... Aussies have been drinking espresso coffee made by Italian immigrants since the 50's and take coffee pretty seriously. It's believed to be one of the reasons Starbucks nearly completely folded here last year - espresso is no novelty and done well almost everywhere.
posted by lottie at 2:38 AM on July 12, 2009

Most of things mentioned in this thread would have been a great novelty perhaps five years ago, but we can get pretty much all of it here now. Reeses, Fluff, Butterfingers, Oreos, Dr Pepper etc are available in most large supermarkets. Most of the rest is available in any decent Asian grocery to feed expat Filipinos (eg A&W root beer, creamer, fried chicken seasoning).

Chain 'gourmet' stores like Essential Ingredient (there's one in Newcastle) carry a decent line of Mexican products, including canned and dried chiles and sauces (mole, salsa etc), as well as specialty items like Tone's Liquid Smoke, as do many independent grocers like IGA. We can get Cholula at Coles as easily as Vegemite. My local Italian deli stocks a full range of Goya fruit drinks. Cheerios are on the shelf at Woolies, as is Ghiradelli chocolate, Hersheys syrup and Kisses and Jelly Belly beans. We even have Krispy Kreme. The invasion is all but complete, and I for one welcome our sugary overlords.

In short, there's not much I can't seem to find these days, and when my mom in Florida offers to send stuff home, we're sort of 'meh, got that." There are a few exceptions: grits, Kool Aid, good toothpaste (oh, God, I almost died the day I tried vanilla mint), creamy peanut butter, PB&J combos (we could get Goober Grape once, but no more), and weird stuff like bacon salt and baconnaise. Some of the iconic candy bars are harder to come by, like the Baby Ruth and Three Muskateers. I've never seen Jolly Ranchers, Pixie Sticks, cinnamon Tictacs, Twizzlers or Tootsie rolls outside a specialty imported like usafoods.com.au.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:19 AM on July 12, 2009

The two packs of Reeses peanut butter cups are becoming more common - however, I found a bag of the smaller sized candies at a specialty shop and they were practically inhaled by the mob. I'm very spoilt, as I'm in a university suburb, and there is a convenience store across the road that panders to Amercian exchange students.

I would love some Kool Aide powder in the mail. And Mountain Dew that has caffiene in it (ours doesn't). If your friend games, Bawls or Manna energy drinks are unavailable here. And definietly Tootsie Rolls. I have no idea what they are exactly, and the name is facinating.
posted by Jilder at 3:26 AM on July 12, 2009

obiwanwasabi: Most of things mentioned in this thread would have been a great novelty perhaps five years ago, but we can get pretty much all of it here now....

I think you're missing the point of gift-giving. "I'm thinking of you and want to share with you something of my world." The fact that the recipient is capable of purchasing some of it for themselves if they drive around to various shops doesn't mean it shouldn't be given as a gift. A chain gourmet store in Newcastle isn't going to wrap up your purchases with love.

In short, there's not much I can't seem to find these days, and when my mom in Florida offers to send stuff home, we're sort of 'meh, got that."

That's sad.

OP don't send anything with seeds in it. Australian customs has gone through the xmas packages we've sent several times, once taking some local pancake mix because it had dried berries in it (they let the maple syrup enter though), and they don't do the best rewrapping job! So take the customs list seriously --- send nothing that could possibly spread or grow there.

I would also suggest anything you can find that's local. Reese's are great, but some handmade truffles from a local chocolatier would be special.
posted by headnsouth at 4:05 AM on July 12, 2009

I think you're missing the point of gift-giving.

I think you're missing the point of the question. Shall I quote for you?

"But I'm clueless as to what American things are rarities in Australia."

Many of the items mentioned in this thread are not rare, or even remotely uncommon, and so do not meet the asker's criteria for giving.

That's sad.

No, sad is thinking an Aussie would look at truffles and say "ooh - American food!"
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:29 AM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Submitted for consideration by the Australians in this thread: Since it sounds like Reese's things are now pretty common, but some other peanut butter treats are still exotic and desirable, do you get peanut-butter filled pretzels like these? They're not super ubiquitous here (they used to be more of a regional item but are creeping mainstreamward) so this gives me hope that they might be unheard of there. I find them extremely moreish.
posted by redfoxtail at 7:00 AM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Since it sounds like Reese's things are now pretty common, but some other peanut butter treats are still exotic and desirable, do you get peanut-butter filled pretzels like these?

I've never seen much of a variety of pretzels here - didn't even know that pretzels could have a filling.
posted by Lolie at 9:07 AM on July 12, 2009

Moonpies. Oh yes. Delicious synthetic Americana sculpted out of transfat, refined sugar, and marshmellow substitute.
posted by dephlogisticated at 10:44 AM on July 12, 2009

Oh - I forgot to mention! we LOVE Tom's of Maine Cinnamint toothpaste and Dr. Bronner's Almond scented liquid soap. Those would be wicked to receive in a package.
posted by lottie at 4:27 PM on July 12, 2009

Do they have blackstrap molasses over there?

I once sent a friend a single Milky Way, a roll of Necco Wafers, some Pop Rocks, blackstrap molasses, licorice drops, and a jelly roll.

She appreciated the joke, so there's another tangent to consider for you.

(Figure it out, lazybrains.)
posted by rokusan at 12:40 AM on July 13, 2009

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