Ideas for Ohio-themed bridal shower?
August 21, 2017 2:15 PM   Subscribe

Throwing a bridal shower for a friend who grew up in Ohio and loves her home state more than anyone I know. Ideas for food / decorations / drinks that would celebrate the Buckeye State?

Ideas I've had so far:
1) Topping cupcakes with a chocolate buckeye
2) Tiny Ohio state flags stuck in finger foods
3) ???

Wanting this to be Ohio-themed, not Ohio Sports Team-themed and looking for foods that are more bridal-shower-appropriate than Skyline Chili.
posted by helen_of_tron to Human Relations (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you have time/money, you could order some Ohio ice cream -- I am personally a big fan of Jeni's but Graeter's also has it's devotees. If you live in a larger city, you can also sometimes find Jeni's in specialty/gourmet food stores (I have never seen Graeter's outside of Ohio, but have seen Jeni's in several states).

Depending what part of Ohio your friend is from, you could also make Jo Jo potatoes -- they were very big where I grew up (northeast Ohio) but I think they're pretty regional so you might check with your friend just to make sure they're something she associates with her childhood!

Shaker Lemon Pie/Ohio Lemon Pie. You can find tons of recipes for this online, here is one. This is another one I had no idea it was regional until I moved away. :)
posted by rainbowbrite at 2:30 PM on August 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

Hi! Grew up in Ohio.

Food: corn. Corn and amazing juicy tomatoes. Mmmmm. Cheryl's cookies and Jeni's or Graeter's ice cream are good Ohio brands if you need more sweets.

What time of year exactly? Good autumn decorations (gourds, Indian corn, leaves, etc)?

What part of Ohio is she from? Different parts have a lot of different culture you could tap into.
posted by olinerd at 2:31 PM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

There is also a cheesy Ohio slogan that used to be on our license plates - "Ohio: the heart of it all" because of the shape of the state. You could use some stereotypical wedding themed decorations but use Ohio outlines in place of hearts!
posted by olinerd at 2:33 PM on August 21, 2017 [8 favorites]

How about ice cream sandwiches made with Cheryl's cookies and Jeni's ice cream in the middle? Let the ice cream soften a bit and scoop it out, squeeze between the two cookies and refreeze. Heaven!
posted by strelitzia at 2:36 PM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Find some ohio shaped rocks for decoration - those are easy to find because the same forces that shaped ohio's borders also shaped the rocks.

Play a game of 'pot leaf or buckeye leaf?'

Use real buckeyes to play a game of conkers, which is named after a sort of British buckeye.

Play euchre

Put up 'the heart of it all' promotional signage.

Even if you don't like the sports ball it's pretty Ohioan to casually dis Michigan.

Make lots of jokes about "what's round on both ends and 'hi' in the middle"
posted by SaltySalticid at 2:40 PM on August 21, 2017

I grew up in Ohio, and potlucks are an art form there, something I really miss. I would make a jello dish with tiny marshmallows. If there are "Theme Colors to Cherish Forever" you can use those colors. I like pink and orange together, so I'd make and layer strawberry fluff and orange jello with cottage cheese & mandarin oranges. Another dessert I really miss is fresh strawberry pie, which is also very pretty and can be made as tarts. Corn pudding is delicious; I prefer more savory versions, but it's very flexible. A ham would be typical for a party, also potato salad.

See if you can get some Ohio beer.
posted by theora55 at 2:59 PM on August 21, 2017

Graeter's ice cream is stocked in some Whole Foods outside of Ohio - I can get it at most in California. Make sure you get the black raspberry chip if you go that route - it's the signature flavor.
posted by asphericalcow at 3:11 PM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

Graeter's, in addition to being far superior to Jeni's hipster garbage, also ships it's ice cream nationwide via dry ice. You have no reason not to do this!

Skyline chili is appropriate for any occasion, and delicious. If you're apprehensive about serving chili, I've seen someone spread a layer of cream cheese in a pan, then a layer of Skyline (they sell it in cans; it too can be shipped anywhere!), and then a layer of shredded cheddar to make a chip dip, which is a little more hors d'oeuvre-y. (For chips, see if you can get Mike-sells; they're the best.)

Seconding what someone upthread said about regionality. Someone from Cleveland is going to have a totally different picture of Ohio than someone from Cincinnati.

I'm surprised no one has mentioned buckeye candy yet. Peanut butter calls dipped in chocolate so as to resemble a buckeye nut. My mom made them for our wedding, and the priest refused to baptize our daughter unless my mom agreed to make him another batch!

Fun fact that not many people know: Ohio produces more frozen pizza than any other state. If you buy a pizza at Walmart, there's a pretty good chance it was made in Defiance, Ohio.

A fair amount of restaurant chains are based in Columbus: Wendy's, White Castle, a few others. As are Victoria's Secret, Bath and Body Works, and Abercrombie and Fitch. Bath and Body Works is probably the most shower-appropriate.

For beer, Great Lakes is the classic, although there are a lot more options now. Four String is a brewery a few blocks from where I used to live that people seem to like. There are also a lot of wineries in the Lake County area.

I'll probably think of more.
posted by kevinbelt at 3:32 PM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

Ohio culture is highly regionalized and it would be helpful to know where in Ohio your friend grew up. Cleveland is a post-industrial city on the water like Detroit or Pittsburgh, Cincinnati is a northern city of the south like St. Louis, and Columbus is a sprawling midwestern suburban monster like a worse Chicago or a better Indianapolis. There are also wide swaths of rural areas in Ohio that I don't know much about.

I grew up in Columbus and have never heard of basically any of the foods mentioned in this thread, or don't think of them as specifically Ohio things.

In my experience, not liking Michigan is a central Ohio things centered around Ohio State University sports; someone from Cincinnati is likely to be indifferent to Michigan and someone from NW Ohio in favor of it.

Jeni's is central Ohio ice cream and Graeter's is Cincinnati.

You mentioned Skyline Chili and if your friend knows or cares about Skyline, she is more likely to be from southern Ohio. I had it like twice in my almost thirty years of living in Ohio;
White Castle and Wendy's were founded in central Ohio and those are my fast food touchstones. Those aren't likely to help at a bridal shower either :/

The Wright Brothers lived, worked, and designed bicycles in Ohio before moving to Kitty Hawk NC for the favorable flying conditions to finish their designs and complete flight tests. Many Ohioans are proud of this and a state slogan is "The Birthplace of Aviation"

You could certainly make candy 'buckeyes': peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate to look like a nut. Those are party staples in central Ohio, but my guess is that might be regional.

Corn and euchre ought to be pretty safe as statewide cultural touchstones, although not distinctively Ohioan per se. Seven US Presidents were born in Ohio, the most of any state, and Ohioans are often proud of this fact. The state bird is the cardinal and the state flower is the carnation, and I think that cultural knowledge would be shared by many Ohioans.
posted by Kwine at 3:34 PM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

Graeter's, in addition to being far superior to Jeni's hipster garbage, also ships it's ice cream nationwide via dry ice. You have no reason not to do this!

No one wins when we take sides in the ice cream wars. Upon reflection, I think most proud Ohioans know and love both of these ice creams. Get both!

...though I suppose that I should that my partisan side in the Ohio ice creams wars is Johnson's, having grown up four blocks away. They'll ship as well! But the smart play is Graeter's and Jeni's.
posted by Kwine at 3:47 PM on August 21, 2017

Lots of Jenny Crusie's novels are set in Ohio; you could use some for favors or even decor.
posted by clew at 5:49 PM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Play Bloodbuzz, by The National.
posted by cocoagirl at 5:55 PM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

These are all such amazing ideas! Some answers to questions up above: her hometown is Columbus and the shower will take place in the fall. Loving all of these!
posted by helen_of_tron at 6:01 PM on August 21, 2017

You should put the cups in a table in shape of ohio with a cupcake or something for 'dotting' the i. (somewhat Ohio Sports themed but Ohio State University, which close enough)
posted by sandmanwv at 6:30 PM on August 21, 2017

Some follow-up questions now that I know she's from Columbus:

-What part of Columbus? It doesn't really have a signature food or drink (Natural Light maybe), but there are beloved neighborhood spots in most suburbs (e.g., Starliner Diner in Hilliard, Chef-O in UA) whose menu you could appropriate.

-Did she go to OSU?

-You the OP don't live in Ohio, and the party will not be held in Ohio, right?
posted by kevinbelt at 6:47 PM on August 21, 2017

To kevinbelt:

Hmm...I don't know what part of Columbus, unfortunately. She did not go to OSU (she went out of state for college). The party will be held in DC.
posted by helen_of_tron at 7:01 PM on August 21, 2017

If you have a snack that is square (fried raviolis look the closest to beanbags, but petit fours, mini square sandwiches, or square mini-quiches would also work), flank the serving tray with the two boards of a mini cornhole set.
posted by neda at 7:15 PM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Jones Chips are made in Mansfield (about an hour north of Columbus) and carry a lot of nostalgia for those who grew up in the area.

Growing up in the area, one thing I remember from family parties (graduations, backyard wedding receptions) is the shredded chicken sandwich. (When I Googled to find a recipe one of the autofill suggestions was "shredded chicken sandwich ohio" and apparently it IS a particularly Ohio thing!) There are tons of recipes on the Google, many referencing the Ohio connection. This one is the closest to the one I used to make because of the addition of crushed-up potato chips.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 8:01 PM on August 21, 2017

Oh, and the classic Ohio party punch Rainbow Sherbet Punch! I guarantee that will take her back.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 8:08 PM on August 21, 2017

posted by Gordafarin at 1:40 AM on August 22, 2017

I have never been to an Ohio party that did not have cornhole.

Buckeye candies are the Ohioest food to me.

There is a lot of Columbus kitsch. You may get some good ideas from the Ohio Pride section of the Wholly Craft website. Things branded 614 and CBUS are fairly popular.

If you're beer drinkers, I'd try to find Great Lakes or Rhinegeist.
posted by ChuraChura at 6:50 AM on August 22, 2017

State of Ohio cookie cutter. Make cookies or cut the Ohio shape out of fondant to decorate cupcakes. Ohio-shaped cheese slices, etc.
posted by theora55 at 9:24 AM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

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