food souvenirs you can't get online
July 6, 2010 12:28 PM   Subscribe

So remember when people used to travel they'd bring back native treats from the places they'd go as souvenirs? With the internet, it seems that many of these things are available online. So sad. Know any treats you still have to go and get? (USA only)

I'm writing a story on those treats from around America that are NOT available online, and would love suggestions. Like a little farmstand's amazing Jam, or a cookie made by one amazing old lady baker in a small town. I'm looking for people's favorite goodies that they have to GO and get, not order. Do you crave anything from your travels/hometown that isn't available online?

posted by SarahWriter to Food & Drink (48 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Unpasteurized milk
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 12:34 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

When I was in Kona, HI, I was able to eat white fleshed pineapple, termed locally as Kona Sugarloaf. In the airport, before the flight home, I recall seeing people carrying boxes of 4 of them, and I foolishly thought I'd easily be able to find them here, but to no avail.
posted by indigo4963 at 12:34 PM on July 6, 2010

Amish Whoopie Pies. Amish almost any food product, really. Out here in central PA we get lots of great Amish bakery, dairy products, canned (in jars) goods, and prepared meats, and for some reason they aren't available online.
posted by Toekneesan at 12:38 PM on July 6, 2010

btw, my family lives on the MS/LA border and what I really crave when I visit is crawfish, which isn't readily available anywhere. The few Asian groceries I have found them at usually import them frozen from China. Not the same.
posted by Toekneesan at 12:40 PM on July 6, 2010

A doughnut from Peter's Pan bakery in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
posted by millipede at 12:41 PM on July 6, 2010

Peter's Pan

What? I lose. Peter Pan.
posted by millipede at 12:41 PM on July 6, 2010

Good peaches and tomatoes. The ones you can buy in the stores have to be picked before they're ripe, and they never ripen correctly. Ones that reach ripeness on the tree or vine are far too delicate to ship any distance--you're lucky if you can get them home without their turning into mush.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:43 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oh, god, and seconding Hawaiian white pineapple.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:44 PM on July 6, 2010

Old Dutch potato chips - specifically Dill Pickle and Ketchup. They occasionally pop up on eBay, but I have a few relatives that will take boxes of Old Dutch chips back with them after a visit to Minnesota.
posted by geekchic at 12:49 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

There are any number of local beers that can't be had outside state lines. I know a guy who heads out west every year and brings back a case or two of Polygamy Porter from Utah.
posted by notsnot at 12:51 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ah, I do this on every trip. I just brought back three boxes of raw honeycomb, three jars of strawberry preserves, three containers of Amish-made peanutbutter/chocolate concoctions, a jar of apricot preserves, some Amish beef jerky, Amish peanut butter, blackstrap molasses, oatmeal soap, horehound drops, etc. I end up buying upwards of a hundred bucks worth of food to bring back for people on each trip.

Although, looking at the labels on some of these, some Amish must have distributors with websites, so the number of products are dwindling.
posted by adipocere at 12:51 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, just thought of another thing I get when in MS/LA—fresh persimmons.
posted by Toekneesan at 1:07 PM on July 6, 2010

The internet now provides both raw green peanuts for boiling and live LA crawfish.
posted by Carbolic at 1:09 PM on July 6, 2010

oh yeah..odinsdream reminded me that every tie I drive down south, I come back with a case of boiled green peanuts.

Also, Smith's Chevron in Santee, SC has a whole store dedicated to local products from vidalia onion jam to several different kinds of cider to a variety of sweets that will rot your teeth out on sight.

Actually, there's roadside places all over the country that carry all kinds of locally produced goods that you just can't get anywhere else. I can think of several places in Florida, Georgia, the Caroliinas and western eastern Massachusetts that I hit up whenever I'm in the area.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 1:15 PM on July 6, 2010

Seyfert's Potato Chips from Fort Wayne, Indiana.
posted by Lone_Wolf at 1:18 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

My wife and I just returned to the U.S. from Mexico and she was overjoyed to eat Magnum ice cream bars. She loved them when she studied abroad in New Zealand. They would make messy, sticky souvenirs though.
posted by cnanderson at 1:18 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

We have been able to get Magnum bars in the U.S. in border towns.
posted by cnanderson at 1:20 PM on July 6, 2010

Oregon Marionberries?
posted by Ouisch at 1:32 PM on July 6, 2010

Spiedies in Binghamton and Central New York.
posted by jgirl at 1:34 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Fresh pecans in Georgia and the Carolinas.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 1:41 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have visitor's from Canada bring me a case of Sleeman's ale if they are driving.
posted by SLC Mom at 1:45 PM on July 6, 2010

The weight and cost of shipping soda makes it almost impossible for me to indulge in my Cheerwine cravings as often as I wish ($30 for a 12 pack is insane), so I have actually driven to South Carolina for the singular purpose of purchasing soda. See also Ale 8-One, which can be purchased online, but shipping makes it more than $5/bottle, which, honestly, is worth it.

So, while both can be purchased online, it is always more fun to jump in the car and take a six hour drive for an icy cold sofa.
posted by banannafish at 1:45 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty sure the legendary Voodoo Doughnuts can't be shipped and have to be purchased in Portland, OR.
posted by verbyournouns at 1:49 PM on July 6, 2010

(I am from East Tennessee.)

Grainger County tomatoes, Cheerwine, and Mayfield milk and ice cream products (particularly their Moose Tracks ice cream and Brown Cow bars) are three things for which I'll head south.

Cheerwine and Mayfield are (theoretically) available in southern Virginia, but I live in the DC area, so it's a long drive haul. I usually just gorge myself when I go to Knoxville.
posted by timetoevolve at 2:14 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Cheerwine and Mayfield are (theoretically) available in southern Virginia, but I live in the DC area,

To derail a bit:

If you ever find yourself in Silver Spring, visit the Cakelove; they sometimes have Cheerwine. Its kind of hit or miss depending on what they've sold out of, since they're in the business of selling average cakes and not amazing soda.

There were a couple other ideas in this thread from last year.

Damn it, there's basically no way I'm getting Cheerwine tonight.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 2:28 PM on July 6, 2010

You can't ship a good cannoli. The best ones aren't even assembled before you ask for it.
posted by cobaltnine at 2:34 PM on July 6, 2010

I've seen Cheerwine at the Sheetz in Aldie, VA, off Rt. 50, about an hour's drive from DC.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:37 PM on July 6, 2010

And not to continue the derail too much, but they serve Cheerwine at the Capital City Diner, too.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:40 PM on July 6, 2010

Cheesesteaks (for Philadelphia); they don't ship well.
posted by madcaptenor at 2:54 PM on July 6, 2010

Dublin Dr. Pepper is in the same category as Cheerwine (which I also love.) You can have it shipped but the cost of shipping soda gets kinda silly.

For those not in the know it's a little bit different than Dr. Pepper in that it uses cane sugar instead of corn syrup.
posted by magikker at 2:56 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

cobaltnine: Termini Brothers bakery, in Philadelphia, ships cannoli. They ship the shell and the filling separately. It tastes pretty good, but you have to assemble it yourself, so unless you know what you're doing it looks horrible.
posted by madcaptenor at 3:02 PM on July 6, 2010

jgirl: "Spiedies in Binghamton and Central New York."

Spiedies! Yum! I miss those. You can get Spiedie Sauce that's pretty damned close to authentic throughout Boston.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 3:13 PM on July 6, 2010

It seems the tricky part of your question is the Internet part. I just discovered a company that ships live, spillway, crawfish. Even as big as over an ounce each. I had no idea I could get those from the virtual nets. I frankly think I wouldn't have thunk to check as there are some things that need to be absolutely fresh. I'm sure the mudpuppies arrive alive, as they claim on the site. But maybe in this instance, quality of life is also an issue. I'm going to try them, but eating them there, in that brackish air, is also probably an influence on that flavor I'm longing for right now, and something I probably couldn't boil up a pot here in Pennsylvania right now, courtesy the Google.
posted by Toekneesan at 3:17 PM on July 6, 2010

The Beverages & More outlets in Northern California stock Cheerwine.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:24 PM on July 6, 2010

From Ms. Vegetable, who grew up in VA:
- Johnson's peaches from a roadside stand somewhere in Candor, NC, I think. No store bought peach is ever as tasty.
- Halifax cantaloupes from Halifax County, VA. They're ripe NOW and will not be for long.
- The relish from the Texas Inn - Roanoke, VA, and Lynchburg, VA. And pre-vegetarianism, the westerns there as well. (A western is a hamburger cooked in a scrambled egg.)
posted by a robot made out of meat at 3:29 PM on July 6, 2010

I was going to say Turkey Joints candy and Maui Rums, but clearly the net has let those cats out of the bag. I really thought you couldn't mail order liquor in the US.

Are the "blister" peanuts that Trader Joe's sells boiled?
posted by NortonDC at 5:40 PM on July 6, 2010

Tampa Cuban Bread. You may also be able to get this delicious bread in Miami, but I never pay attention to Miami.

It is, however, not something you take home to your family after a trip, because it is at its best when eaten within a couple hours of baking. Imagine the softer, crustier version of a good crusty French bread, a yard long.

By extension, a good Cuban sandwich is also impossible to get without the proper Cuban bread. Restaurants up north may claim to have Cuban sandwiches, but they are just pressed sandwiches on ciabatta or some other poor substitute for Cuban bread.

Now, if you were interested in the options for Japan, I'd have a list for you a mile long!
posted by that girl at 6:52 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

Roasted NM green chile, fresh from the giant outdoor roaster at the farm (Wagner's was good last year) and out of your 100 lb industrial-grade plastic chile sack that will leave your car smelling like chile for a week.

So good that you'll be spending the rest of the day burning your hands pulling off the skins to package it for freezing. The 100 lbs might get you through the next year....

Yeah there are places that sell it in frozen bricks but it's NOT the same. It's still amazing but after it's frozen even once the flavor is not the same.
posted by answergrape at 7:33 PM on July 6, 2010

Tampa Cuban Bread.

oh, that girl. Butter bread from Mauricio's on Nebraska. And a pressed cuban from the Silver Ring (now defunct) that used to be on 7th Avenue.
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:39 PM on July 6, 2010

And in that vein...CHICHARRONES! No, they are not "pork rinds."
posted by answergrape at 7:44 PM on July 6, 2010

Girl Scout Cookies.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:02 PM on July 6, 2010

Beerocks (pronounced Beer-Ox), a meat and cabbage pie which seems to be exclusive to Fresno, California; there is a "Beerock Shop" there, and the pies are also available each October at the Fresno Fair, but I've never seen them anywhere else. According to Sunset magazine, they are their own thing and are not the same as similarly named German pies.
posted by OolooKitty at 9:18 PM on July 6, 2010

Food from Taco John's. Expats from the Midwest brag about getting to eat it when they're visiting home.

I've never been able to find applewine (Ebbelwoi if you're in Frankfurt) when I'm desperate for some, either.
posted by lauranesson at 4:41 AM on July 7, 2010

Magnums are sold in the UK as well, cnanderson. They just brought out a salted caramel version.
posted by mippy at 6:58 AM on July 7, 2010

Valomilks are a heavenly chocolate cup (a la Reese's Peanut Butter, in a slightly darker milk chocolate), filled with vanilla-infused, runny marshmallow. I am not a big marshmallow fan, but Steve Almond's rave in Candyfreak convinced me to try Valomilks when they were available at my local Whole Paycheck outlet. They were worth it.

However, I think the Valomilk would be better purchased at the manufacturing site, in Meriam, Kan. Why? The filling expands at high altitude (as on a plane), and they leak, "rendering it difficult, if not impossible, to remove a Valomilk from its paper cup," as Almond says. If I tried a Valomilk on site, fresh off the floor, I would levitate, if not ascend straight to heaven.
posted by virago at 10:10 AM on July 7, 2010

Despite the vast array of sodas we can easily procure in town at various gigantic ethnic grocer emporiums and the like, my husband grumbles occasionally about never seeing New Zealand's L&P (Lemon & Paeroa) soda. He had it for the first time when he spent a couple weeks there as a teen in the people to people student ambassador program and has never been able to have it since. A quick search is confirming what he complained about; that you can't even get it easily online. Maybe we just don't know where to look though.

On that trip he also discovered feijoa, but he can get that here too.
posted by ifjuly at 11:37 AM on July 7, 2010

My family loves the ravioli from Lucca Ravioli Co. in San Francisco's Mission District. It's been a family favorite for decades and is always a real treat for those no longer based in SF, especially the holiday-only turkey ravioli. No internet ravioli available.
posted by KatlaDragon at 1:49 PM on July 7, 2010

Response by poster: wow thanks these are amazing tips. I'd already heard about legendary green roasted chilis and voodoo donuts, it seems they have cultlike followings. I'll be metamailing some of you if that's alright!
posted by SarahWriter at 2:07 PM on July 7, 2010

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