Treats available in the U.S. but not the UK
November 16, 2017 12:56 PM   Subscribe

Sending a Christmas package with snacks/sweets that my friend in the UK can't get over there. I don't want to ask her favorites because I want it to be a surprise. Suggestions? Lighter weight is better, as postage has gotten ridiculous. I saw this thread but it's been three years and maybe more stuff is available over there now.
posted by trillian to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Where are you located? Maple sugar candy is a very New England treat that travels nicely. It isn't especially heavy.
posted by prewar lemonade at 1:12 PM on November 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

From what I've heard, candy globalization has really improved over there, but I think our dumbest breakfast cereals are still a hard to get thing. Lucky Charms, Reeses Puffs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, whatever iteration of Capn Crunch they're pushing now--that kind of thing.

When I was visiting London I remember I ate something called Fruit n Fibre. Save them from themselves.
posted by phunniemee at 1:13 PM on November 16, 2017 [7 favorites]

This is what the American section looks like in Tesco grocery stores - one of the most common grocery chains here in the UK. If you don't see it there, you are good, I'd say. For some reason, both Reece's and Lucky Charms are everywhere.

One suggestion aside from mass-produced candy: I suggest to find some local taffy or other local sweet. That said, I always ask for Tootsie roll pops because I am addicted and they are impossible to find in the UK.
posted by vacapinta at 1:19 PM on November 16, 2017 [5 favorites]

Hot Cheetos, Twinkies, Ding Dongs, and gourmet jerky

also Kraft Mac N Cheese

I really don't know how they are surviving over there
posted by ananci at 1:20 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Lay's potato chips and yellow corn grits are what my friend that moved to the UK always requested. Also peanut butter, but that's way heavy.
posted by Bee'sWing at 1:26 PM on November 16, 2017

a lot of stuff is available, but not necessarily affordable -- so even if you can get twinkies at tesco's, they're like £10/box. so twinkies or similar are still a good bet. same with cereal -- you can get lucky charms, but it's quite expensive.

some brit friends of mine go nuts for oreos (especially weird or exotic seasonal varieties) and for cookies-and-cream flavoured stuff in general; Oreo-Os were a hit for them, and though they're discontinued now, this stuff is pretty close. Cinnamon Toast Crunch is also a good bet, because cinnamon-flavoured anything is rarer. cinnamon gum or cinnamon candy (like Hot Tamales) is worth a try, too.

they have potato chips, but Doritos and other corn-based snacks are less common. i second the Flamin' Hot Cheetos idea, maybe some exotic Doritos flavour, too, or Cheez Balls or what-have-you. if you have a regional potato chip brand that makes unusual flavours, consider those -- east-coast US examples would be Utz Crab Chips or Carolina BBQ. they have all the standard cheese/onion/salt-and-vinegar stuff covered already.

a lot of brits find american chocolate to be gross (except for the aforementioned Cookies And Cream version by Hershey's, because they are weirdos) but the new Hershey Gold Bar might be an interesting novelty. also fruit-based candies, like Fun Dip, (american) Smarties or SweeTarts, Pixy Stix, Airheads, Warheads -- go into a candy aisle in a 7/11 and think like a twelve-year-old kid and you're sure to find some stuff they'll like.

definitely include some weird regional candy, if you have any near you! Boston Baked Beans, Atomic Fireballs, Lemonheads, Necco wafers, saltwater taffy...

small bottles of hot sauces might also be appreciated, if that's not too heavy -- or small packets of seasoning mix (taco seasoning, BBQ rubs, queso mix, onion dip mix, ranch dressing mix, etc.)
posted by halation at 1:31 PM on November 16, 2017

Anything at all from Trader Joe's - especially chocolate salty almonds (send those to me please!). I'd avoid Hershey's stuff which tastes like soap to us British. You'd be pretty OK with "standard" chocolate bars with either almond or perhaps pb filling - Snickers, Twix, M&Ms would all be good in non-standard configurations. Also Chex Mix in any form is impossible to get here. Goldfish crackers aren't available here, nor is anything with "turtle" or "s'more" in the name.

What a nice friend you are!
posted by car01 at 1:41 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

oh dang trader joe's is a great point. send them these! ooh, send them this too if it's not too heavy.
posted by halation at 1:58 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Would they like cornbread mix? Because I know I, a Canadian, sure would. Boxed cornbread (like cake mix) doesn't exist in Canada, and I bet it's scarce in Britain, too.

American Hershey's chocolate tastes very terrible (sour, gritty, and chemical) compared to British Cadbury chocolate (which is creamy, buttery, vanilla-y)... so if your friend is actually British, I strongly agree with posters above that you should avoid Hershey's products, and even any dime store American chocolate where the chocolate is a big part of the taste (like Nestle Aero or Neilson Jersey Milk)... it's just never gonna be as good as a Cadbury bar.

Trader Joe's candy is always so good. They had these lime marshmallows a while back that were weirdly addictive.

Tex-mex stuff like chipotle hot sauce, Ro-Tel, or dried chipotle peppers are good too, if they'd know how to use them. Ranch powder too.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:59 PM on November 16, 2017

some brit friends of mine go nuts for oreos (especially weird or exotic seasonal varieties)

Standard Oreos are cheap and plentiful; the seasonal ones are not.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:04 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

My in-laws just brought over limited edition packs of Oreos for us in the UK (sweet god, the apple pie Oreos are AMAZING!) The US mint Oreos are much better than the abominations that pass for mint Oreos here.

I became mildly addicted to dill flavour Lays on my last US trip, though I’m not sure how easy it would be to send potato chips without them being a bag of crumbs on arrival.

And on the off-chance that your friend is vegetarian, I’d be thrilled to find a pack of TJ’s soyrizo in any care package.
posted by cardinalandcrow at 2:04 PM on November 16, 2017

Jolly ranchers!
posted by RandomInconsistencies at 2:07 PM on November 16, 2017

From a UKer, those sachets of grits with bits of cheese/ham in
posted by runincircles at 2:34 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've said this before, but the one American treat you really cannot get over here is Girl Scout cookies. Pretty much anything else you can either get hold of (though it may cost you) or find a reasonable British substitute for.

Two things that are not impossible to get, but difficult enough that I'd be grateful if someone brought them over, are Cream of Wheat and Constant Comment tea.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 2:36 PM on November 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

P.S. I do find it a little frustrating how questions about the UK always seem to be answered by Americans drawing on long-ago memories of a short stay here. Kraft Mac & Cheese and Doritos are both widely available here in London - as is Hershey's chocolate, for that matter - and the range of Oreo flavours is ever-increasing. Twinkies cost about £5 a box (which admittedly is about £5 too much), not £10. Dill-flavoured crisps can be found in Ikea, Flying Tiger and (thanks to the craze for all things Scandinavian) in many supermarkets. I wouldn't waste money posting any of these.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 3:06 PM on November 16, 2017 [5 favorites]

I know that 20 years ago, they neither knew what cornbread was nor had those little mixes. I sent some to the Scottish couple that hosted us as a thank you. I believe they did enjoy it!
posted by emjaybee at 3:15 PM on November 16, 2017

do they have Jelly Bellies? They are the only jelly beans worth eating, and I don't think widely available abroad?

[edit: it appears that Tesco site does have some jelly bellies! o brave new world!]

[in that case, Trader Joe's. Not just the candy: also the cookies. Have you had the peppermint chocolate covered joe-joes? Best thing about winter.]
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:24 PM on November 16, 2017

I say send some Hershey's bars just to mess with them.
posted by Small Dollar at 3:31 PM on November 16, 2017

I love Hershey’s with almonds, YMMV.

The most important thing is Turtles.

Proper Twizzlers, the strawberry ones that is, and not the kind you peel or whatever.

Sour Cream & Onion potato chips.

Cheddar Goldfish crackers.

But most importantly, Turtles. Send me some, too.
posted by tel3path at 4:07 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

One of my friends in the UK gets mad if I don't send them Laffy Taffy along with whatever else might be in the parcel.
posted by kendrak at 4:29 PM on November 16, 2017

even any dime store American chocolate where the chocolate is a big part of the taste (like Nestle Aero

Nestle Aero is an English chocolate bar, actually (originally Rowntrees). A bog-standard item in the UK, a relatively uncommon thing to see over here.

Theo Chocolate (from Seattle) is popular, well-made, reasonably priced, and not, that I have seen, readily available in the UK, but it's also not a "classic" US item, so YMMV.

TJ's sour gummy bears are yummy, far preferable to the Haribo available in the UK in my opinion.
posted by praemunire at 7:10 PM on November 16, 2017

My friends usually request Big Red gum and weirdly flavored Pop Tarts.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:40 PM on November 16, 2017

Nthing Turtles!
posted by Samarium at 1:50 AM on November 17, 2017

Like Perodictitus Potto, I would encourage you to focus on answers from people who currently live in the UK. I moved to London from the US fifteen years ago, and I can tell you that the products available here are constantly changing.

I'd also distinguish between:

1. Stuff you can get in any major UK store
2. Stuff you can find if you track it down and pay extra
3. Stuff that's virtually impossible to get your hands on

Category 1 includes a many (but not all) types of Oreos. Here is a screenshot from the place where I buy my groceries. A brick-and-mortar store might not have all those varieties on their shelves, but they're not hard to come by. If you're sending Oreos, I'd aim for a variety not shown there.

Category 2 includes standard cheese-flavored Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, Jiffy peanut butter, and regular Cheerios. (The cereal that's sold as "Cheerios" in the UK is super-sugary, and not the same as the relatively healthy plain Cheerios in the US.) You aren't going to find these in a random UK grocery store, but if you're in a big city, in a neighborhood with a particular concentration of Americans, there's probably a shop somewhere nearby that sells them at marked up prices. Depending on where your friend lives and how much money they have to spend, items in this category could still make good gifts. In fact, if they get addicted to what you send, they might actively like having the option of tracking it down in the UK. You might take a look at this American food store to get a sense of what is in this category.

Category 3 is tricky and ever-shrinking. I agree with the previous suggestions of Girl Scout cookies and anything from Trader Joe's. The weirder versions of Goldfish are also impossible to find here, although it's an open question whether your friend will like them. Ghirardelli or Scharfenberger chocolate is another possibility-- they won't seem as uniquely American as a Girl Scout Cookie, but they won't taste sour to a Brit in the way Hershey's or other mass market American chocolates would.

That brings up another thought. You don't say whether your friend is an American expat or a native Brit. If they're an American, they might actually be missing that weird Hershey's flavor. And if they're an American who likes to cook, you might send them baking powder and a few bags of chocolate chips. American recipes don't work as well with British baking powder, and it's hard to find American-style chocolate chips here.
posted by yankeefog at 1:56 AM on November 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Jelly bellies are also widely available here in the UK (I buy them at WH Smith's or B and M bargains). The only thing I really bother with buying in the US when I'm over is laundry and household stuff like tide pens and nice dryer sheets. My British friends were particularly amazed by my tide pens. They hated the cinnamon candy I brought back to share but at least it had novelty value. I wouldnt not bother with anything else except maybe some US regional specialties or, yes, girl scout cookies.
posted by hazyjane at 2:01 AM on November 17, 2017

Cake flour, light corn syrup, Bakers unsweetened chocolate.
posted by tel3path at 3:31 AM on November 17, 2017

Londoner/native Brit here. GIRL SCOUT COOKIES. Also those big bags of chocolate snack things with bits of candy canes/peppermint bark in them. I think I mean Roca Thins? Raspberry M&Ms seem to have vanished now but if you find any, send them to me. Peanut butter twix. Cherry life savers? Trader Joe's creamed honey. Candy corn. (These are all the things I want)

Don't get that fucking abomination that calls itself mac and cheese. Jesus.
posted by corvine at 9:49 AM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

doritos, corn syrup, oreos, hersheys syrup-- used to be hard to get, now you can have them delivered to your door on ocado. That's probably a good way to check, just do a search on and see if it's there. Even in the last 2-3 years, a lot of brands have started to become a lot more available over here (including Amy's organic!)

Agreed with TJs specialties, especially candy cane oreos. Girl scout cookies are great as well.

Last Christmas I realised for the first time in 15 years that they don't have candy canes widely available. I wanted to make some peppermint bark and couldn't find the stuff anywhere. Maybe this winter will be easier, but that's a random one that could be easy and fun to include.
posted by lettezilla at 10:00 AM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Mr. Moonlight used to ask for Jolly Ranchers -- they were sold in the UK, but they stopped some time ago. He also likes Dunkin Donut's coffee.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 10:39 AM on November 17, 2017

Wow, thanks! Too many best answers to mark. Still considering, but I have a Trader Joe's 10 mins. away so that may be some of it.
posted by trillian at 6:46 PM on November 19, 2017

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