Yours is the only grub what satisfies my gut-worm
October 5, 2006 4:33 AM   Subscribe

Brits: is there any American junk food which you covet?

I realize this is sort of like calling Switzerland from a Wal-Mart and asking if I can pick them up a clock, but I'm trying to get a care package together for a person in Scotland, and I want to include some American junk food which isn't readily available across the pond. Anything from The States which you enjoy is welcome as a suggestion.
posted by dong_resin to Food & Drink (53 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
It's difficult to get proper maple syrup here; it's too runny. A small, nice, thick dark bottle of mapleness would be a good thing to add.
posted by randomination at 4:35 AM on October 5, 2006

Root beer is amazing and next to impossible to find in the UK. Also if this person likes US style bacon that's hard to find in the UK.

Hershey's cholocate in general and the syrup in particular is missing from my life. And before the purists groan I love Belgian chocolate too but I have a well developed taste for the unrefined! Reese's candies are now well enough established here that they're uncommon but not rare.
posted by dmt at 4:43 AM on October 5, 2006

Another vote for maple syrup. I brought back a couple of bottles last time I was in the US - my Sunday morning fry-ups have improved immeasurably. And although I loathe them, others in my office always put in orders for Reese's Cups whenever someone is crossing the Atlantic.
posted by greycap at 4:44 AM on October 5, 2006

Big Red chewing gum is amazing and impossible to find.
posted by chrispy108 at 4:46 AM on October 5, 2006

Not especially enjoyable to eat, I would imagine, but a packet of Chocolate Chip Pancake & Sausage on a Stick would certainly brighten their day. It would also had the valuable side-effect of shocking complacent Scots out of thinking that the deep-fried Mars bar is any sort of nadir of unhealthy eating.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 4:50 AM on October 5, 2006

Response by poster: Absolutely none of these answers would have occurred to me half an hour ago. Cool.
posted by dong_resin at 5:00 AM on October 5, 2006

Mountain Dew with caffeine - and another vote for maple syrup.
posted by goo at 5:00 AM on October 5, 2006

Jolly Ranchers!
posted by pollystark at 5:05 AM on October 5, 2006

Its impossible to find good jars of salsa here when there are so many brilliant different kinds in the States. I do mean the quality ones - we can get the El Paso type crap here but the good small scale type stuff is nonexistent. Pancake mix is always good but its costs a lot to send and its not too hard to make your own from scratch. That's what I always try to bring back but I could also point out that most of the brand crackers that one finds in the States aren't readily available here or our versions are rather different (less salt, less flavorings). If you are truly serious about the JUNK angle - most of the Hostess stuff like HoHos and Twinkies are only legend here. No one will like them but they might be amused by the horror of it all.
posted by anglophiliated at 5:10 AM on October 5, 2006

How about a box of 30 White Castle burgers, especially the jalapeno ones. (Not in the least bit practical, but you DID say 'junk')! :-)
posted by timpollard at 5:13 AM on October 5, 2006

I was also going to say high-quality salsa and tortilla chips. That's usually what I ask for from American guests who offer to bring me something. I'm not sure if that is junk food enough for your purposes though.
posted by grouse at 5:14 AM on October 5, 2006

Been here a month and I am craving all snacks from Trader Joe's. Especially: peanut butter filled pretzels, pretzel sticks, triple ginger snaps, dulce de leche balls, blue corn tortilla chips... oh gawd, I miss them all! Luckily I have a good friend in Boston sending me all of the above. =)
posted by like_neon at 5:23 AM on October 5, 2006

My wife's American - we live in Scotland. Most of the stuff mentioned above - especially the candy - can be obtained here from a few specialist shops in Glasgow and Edinburgh. I would go along with the maple syrup and with ingredients for making cookies (such as chocolate chips) however. The range of Mexican sauces and food available here is a poor relation of what you have so that might be another idea. There are a number of OTC medications which are not possible to get here (such as mellatonin, Airborne cold tablets, etc). This might be an alternative option.

PS: If you want a unique product from Scotland that I guarantee you will not have at home then you should ask your friend to send you "Buckfast".
posted by rongorongo at 5:41 AM on October 5, 2006

I'd throw in some packet mixes and spices - stuff that can be turned into "real food", but has no fresh ingredients.

Creole/cajun mixes for cooking are few and far between here, so... a big jar of creole seasoning, a dirty rice packet mix, pumpkin pie spice, a jambalaya packet mix, that kind of thing.
posted by Leon at 5:47 AM on October 5, 2006

Response by poster: Heh. Buckfast is why humble johnny dong resin is no longer welcome in great state of Pennsylvania, rongo.

The suggestions here continue to be fantastic.
posted by dong_resin at 5:56 AM on October 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

For some reason my UK-resident US friends always bring themselves back packets of macaroni cheese.
posted by handee at 6:01 AM on October 5, 2006

I only covet Reeces (the cups, pieces & miniatures are available here but cost a bit more and they don't tend to have the full range, eg. white choc miniatures, those little snack bag things.) but you could always include Mountain Dew, Twinkies, Moon Pies, Pocky, Twizzlers, pankake mix and so forth. Not sure if it's practical to send MD and you can actually get it in the UK now (see below)

like_neon, anglophiliated & others:
Try your local wholefood emporium. I get proper maple syrup, blue chips, good salsa etc. from Infinity Foods in Brighton and there are similar places all over, eg in London Bumblebee on the edge of Camden/Kentish Town & Fresh & Wild/Whole Food Market chain have branches all over London & are probably the most similar to Trader Joe's (ie evul enormo-chain-corp ;-) Also look out for small, high quality food stores - there are loads around central London.

Seriosly, if you can't find decent salsa & chips in London then you can't have looked very far.

Harrods' Selfridges & Harvey Nichols food halls are good for overseas food (I used to regularly make a pilgramage to HN's 5th floor to buy Tim Tams before they became more widely available here.)

Also, Cybercandy in Covent Garden & Brighton have the full range of international junk.

OK, so I've answered more than the question...
posted by i_cola at 6:04 AM on October 5, 2006

Seconding the Reeses recommendation. Innumberable visiting British coworkers have had lengthy discussions about what varieties of Reeses to squirrel away and take back with them.
posted by canine epigram at 6:09 AM on October 5, 2006

Oh, one more thing, from my north American gf, and it's not technically junk food in the purest form, but Libby's canned pumpkin pie filling isn't available here either. Just the puréed kind with no spices. Seeing as it's Thanksgiving soon...!
posted by randomination at 6:10 AM on October 5, 2006

Weirdly, I have a friend who is obsessed with all her friends bringing Goldfish back from the states. No idea why as they seem to be the same as any other cheesy snack to me, but perhaps they'd be good in a care package.
posted by patricio at 6:17 AM on October 5, 2006

The things I usually have people bring me when they come to visit: salsa (Mrs. Renfro's habanero), good peanut butter (Peanut Butter & Company), good barbecue sauce (Sweet Baby Ray's Hot & Spicy) and possibly good beefy jerky.

I also have a gross affinity for Slim Jims and got this hilarious care package from a friend in America.
posted by atomly at 6:27 AM on October 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

Twinkies. I think they're illegal here. Or should be.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:32 AM on October 5, 2006

Mountain Dew with caffeine and HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 6:57 AM on October 5, 2006

Hard pretzels - you can find bags of small nibble pretzels in the UK but the big hard sourdough type pretzels have become impossible to find.

(if anyone has a fix on these in London please let me know. Cullens used to sell them but those shops seems to have been taken over by Tesco Extra).
posted by gfrobe at 7:02 AM on October 5, 2006

As someone who lived in the US up to age 17 and has lived in Britain ever since (I'm 33 now) I have this to say:


Oh God, Milanos. Bring 'em on.
posted by Pallas Athena at 7:09 AM on October 5, 2006

Maple syrup is not thick, it is thin, by nature. The thick stuff is commercial corn syrup with flavor. The real thing is available at supermakets in the UK (I can't remember which, I shopped Tesco, Sainsbury and Waitrose, one or more had it).

The thing I missed is special to me, that's my Quaker Life cereal. But that's just an individual passion.

Hershey's Syrup is good stuff, even if I do know how to make a fabulous Dam Blanche using real Belgian chocolate. I can't recall if I found that in the UK. I did get it in Germany (Karstadt).

Chex cereal to make REAL party mix is pretty special. Outrageous to ship! Maybe a packet of the ready made would fit your description.
posted by Goofyy at 7:15 AM on October 5, 2006

Two words: Cheese Whiz. It has a taste all of it's own and I think it is totally delicious. Can't beat it spread thick on hot bagels or toasted muffins.

To a lesser extent, but in the same food group, Velveeta cheese. Again nothing quite the same in the UK.
posted by 543DoublePlay at 7:39 AM on October 5, 2006

I have the desire for dip 'n' dots and an in and out burger.
Unfortunately, neither could be added to a care package.
posted by seanyboy at 7:49 AM on October 5, 2006

My British ex would always ask for the big Reeses cups, Twix, and Kit Kats when I came to visit. He was also amazed at the variety of ready to make food-in-boxes that I had, especially the easy bake pecan squares, chocolate chip brownies, and blueberry pancake mix.
posted by rmless at 7:49 AM on October 5, 2006

Why doesn't Mountain Dew have caffeine in the UK? Or do I need my own askmefi for that?
posted by spicynuts at 7:50 AM on October 5, 2006

Gooffyy: I beg to differ. We once bought maple syrup direct from a Mennonite farm. It was thick, and darker than Cheney's soul.
posted by randomination at 7:55 AM on October 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

American living in Scotland here.

Cheez-its, beef jerky, green chile salsa, black beans, refried beans, decent tortilla chips, mole, decent barbecue sauce, properly sour US pickles.

The food boards at are a good place to find leads as well.
posted by By The Grace of God at 8:04 AM on October 5, 2006

maple syrup

We Canadians tend to think that maple syrup is as Canadian as . . . well . . . maple syup. The vast majoriy of the world's production comes from Quebec.
posted by Neiltupper at 8:10 AM on October 5, 2006


It is nowhere to be found in the UK. And when asked about its availability, Brits call the very concept of cinnamon gum "gross." (They have no idea what they're missing.) When I lived in London for a year I had to have my family ship it to me in packages.
posted by hazelshade at 8:14 AM on October 5, 2006

My girlfriend will rip people's arms off for Red Vines.

I'd add Twinkies and churros to the list.
posted by wackybrit at 8:22 AM on October 5, 2006

The one thing I always bring home from the US is a few bars of 3-Musketeers. Complicated reason follows:

In the US, what you call a Mars Bar, we call a Snickers.

What you call a Milky Way, we call a Mars Bar.

We do have a candy bar called a Milky Way, and when I was a kid it was exactly like your 3-Musketeers with a light, whipped, chocolatey filling. At some point, it was changed and the filling is now bland and horrible.

So imagine my delight the first time I ate a 3-Musketeers and discovered the British Milky Way of my childhood still existed.

If your friend is too young to remember, tell him/her to give the 3-Musketeers to someone over 45 who will be sure to recall with longing what a British Milky Way used to taste like.
posted by essexjan at 8:48 AM on October 5, 2006

When I'm back home I miss Reese's Cups and good Maple Syrup. For a more impractical suggestion: A good Italian Hogie (with provalone and oil and vinegar.) Shit I just made myself hungry!
posted by ob at 9:19 AM on October 5, 2006

I mean I could add a Philly Cheese-Steak to the list as well, but that would get mighty soggy by the time it arrived in Blighty...
posted by ob at 9:20 AM on October 5, 2006

Trader Joe's salsa is the best!
posted by dgeiser13 at 9:55 AM on October 5, 2006

Don't know how you'd make this work but when I lived in London I would've killed for Taco Bell.
posted by ASM at 10:19 AM on October 5, 2006

Altoids and anything Reeses!
posted by crabintheocean at 10:20 AM on October 5, 2006

Is your friend a Scot or a Yank? It makes a difference to which sweets are best, I believe. If you look at the Cybercandy site (as mentioned above by i_cola) you'll see that yanks like peanut butter and aussies like mint-and-choc, if I remember correctly!

I really like Pay Days, but that's about the only American candy I crave. I'm a Londoner who visits Cybercandy too often, though...
posted by flameproof at 10:25 AM on October 5, 2006

How about Marshmallow Peeps? Cheap, and lightweight (i.e., cheap to ship!).
posted by scottso17 at 10:38 AM on October 5, 2006

We once bought maple syrup direct from a Mennonite farm. It was thick, and darker than Cheney's soul.

Grade A Maple Syrup (like you can buy at nearly any store) is the thin and runny kind. The dark, think kind is Grade B. Yes, in this case, Grade B is what you want.
posted by kindall at 10:39 AM on October 5, 2006

We always have to take Cheeze Whiz to ex-pat Yanks living in Britain. My worst nightmare is that it breaks, and I have a suitcase full of orange goo.
posted by tizzie at 11:12 AM on October 5, 2006

Aren't Altoids already British? Seems if they are you'd be able to get them in the UK.

Ah, verified: Callard and Bowser are a UK outfit.
posted by SlyBevel at 11:21 AM on October 5, 2006

Reeses (for like the fourth time) and Cinnamon gum
posted by arcticseal at 12:01 PM on October 5, 2006

20 years and I've still not managed to discover what an Oreo is.. though my trans-Atlantic buddies insist to me that they're immense. Anyone?
posted by Matt_MP at 12:17 PM on October 5, 2006

Stomach-growlingly seconding anything from Margaret Rudkin's Palace of Palate-Pleasers, especially Goldfish, Milanos and ... ahhhh ... Brussels!
posted by rob511 at 3:38 PM on October 5, 2006

O beautiful for plethora of snacks...
posted by oxford blue at 5:07 PM on October 5, 2006

Matt_MP, my god. you poor deprived thing. Oreos are sandwich cream cookies, with chocolate cookies and sweet "cream" filling that's basically pure sugar. Here you go. Yum.
posted by MadamM at 9:11 PM on October 5, 2006

Matt_MP: You appear to be in the UK. Oreos have been available here for ages. Just look for them in Tescos or Sainsburys or wherever.
posted by wackybrit at 3:43 AM on October 6, 2006

Twizzlers. Strawberry only. Not Red Vines, not the Canadian version of Twizzlers, but the American kind.

Those are worth their weight in gold among certain circles in the UK.
posted by LGCNo6 at 4:00 AM on October 16, 2006

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