What would you want brought to you from Philadelphia?
August 2, 2008 10:55 AM   Subscribe

What should we bring from Philadelphia as gifts for people we're visiting?

My boyfriend and I are taking a road trip south in a couple weeks! (Gas prices rising, global climate changing - who wouldn't drive from Philly to Georgia in August?) We'll be stopping by to see various friends - some of whom I haven't seen in years, none of whom have any friends in or experiences of Philadelphia. What should we load the car up with for distribution? Cheesesteaks won't keep and Yuengling seems to be widely available. I was thinking Tastykakes, but he thinks they're more widely available than I realize. I foolishly didn't stock up on Zitner's Butter Krak eggs this past Easter. Is DiBruno Brothers local/unique enough that I should pick up goodies from there? What haven't I thought of?
posted by killerinsideme to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Lore's chocolates is what I usually bring people. (7th and Chestnut) Good, old-fashioned candymaking. I'm particularly fond of the vanilla buttercreams and the Italian creams. I love John & Kira's chocolates too, but their stuff is much more expensive and much more perishable. It does have an awesome local angle, of course, though.

I don't know if what's available at DiBruno is soooo hard to find if you know where to look, but if your friends haven't lived in an area with a lot of Italians, they're probably unfamiliar with real sharp provolone, soprasetta, speck, finocchiona, fresh mozzarella, really good parmesan-reggiano, and pecorino. Ohh, and you could bring them a burrata (or just eat it on the way.) DiBruno is also carrying stuff from Salumi Artisan (Mario Battali's dad's company) that is really out of this world. Not many stores carry it. Not cheap, but out of this world.
posted by desuetude at 11:13 AM on August 2, 2008

Tom Sturgis Cheese Pretzels. That was our request each time Philly people came to see us - just give us those pretzels!!! I don't know if they are native to Philly only, but I have never seen them in any other city. Yum!
posted by ml98tu at 11:14 AM on August 2, 2008

A R.E.Load bag.
posted by box at 11:28 AM on August 2, 2008

You might get some good ideas from scanning a few of the sites that ship Philly specialties.
posted by jrossi4r at 11:31 AM on August 2, 2008

I grew up in the Philly area, and if someone were able to bring me a real Philly soft pretzel, I would be so grateful. I don't know if it's possible to keep them fresh enough, though.

And TastyKakes are pretty widely available these days. Furthermore, people outside Philly don't seem to get it. They think they're just like Little Debbie, which is a LIE.
posted by Airhen at 11:42 AM on August 2, 2008

Eh, how about stopping off in DC and bringing me a cheesesteak, Italian hoagie, and some scrapple ... please ... pretty please ....

Actually, TastyKakes are not that widely available once you get south of say, Delaware or so. You could always go to the Reading Terminal and grab some gifty stuff; anything Pennsylvania Dutch for example is probably a safe bet. Seconding some Italian hard sausage also, or Pennsylvania Dutch brand birch beer would also seem fairly exotic I think.

Finally, Nuts To You stores used to carry Wilbur chocolates. Check and see if they still do (Wilbur buds, yum).
posted by gudrun at 11:47 AM on August 2, 2008

Seconding Airhen on TastyKakes. People outside Philly don't get it.

(Also don't forget to bring them some bad luck for the Braves.)
posted by desuetude at 12:17 PM on August 2, 2008

Tastykakes. Butterscotch Krimpets and Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes. Food of the gods. Also: keep them cool.
posted by filmgeek at 12:42 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty sure you can get scrapple outside the Philadelphia area.
posted by oaf at 1:05 PM on August 2, 2008

Franks Black Cherry Wishniak.
posted by fixedgear at 1:20 PM on August 2, 2008

Hey, I can't get TastyKakes down here (NC), and my grandpop brings me a box every Christmas. I think TastyKakes are a GREAT idea.
posted by kidsleepy at 1:32 PM on August 2, 2008

oaf said: I'm pretty sure you can get scrapple outside the Philadelphia area.

Yes, I can sometimes get nasty scapple with too much cornmeal filler. I want Habbersett scrapple, which I can get frozen by mail order (but only in the cooler months) and I miss being able to just grab at the grocery store.
posted by gudrun at 1:34 PM on August 2, 2008

Hoagies! A big brown paper bag of hoagies. The hoagie maker can put a sheet of waxed paper between the fillings and the bread to keep it from becoming a soggy mush. You just turn it out into the bread when you get there.

And filmgeek is right on about the Krimpets and Kandy Kakes.
posted by bink at 1:35 PM on August 2, 2008

Soft pretzels. As a former Philly local, it's the one Philly food I can't find in my current home state (Virginia). There isn't even anything like them here. TastyKakes are more available here (not sure about GA) than they were 10 years ago, as some have mentioned, but I know I would still love to recieve a box of my favorites - kandy kakes :)
posted by geeky at 1:39 PM on August 2, 2008

Seconding Wilbur Buds, I bring those back whenever I visit my parents (who live out in Wibur country, admittedly). Apparently Goldenbergs Peanut Chews are not universal, if my Midwestern friends are to be believed. I wouldn't waste good scrapple on people who may never eat it. Soft pretzels are nice if you can get them in hand within about 24 hours.

Oh, and gundrun...I've been known to buy six pounds of Habbersetts, freeze them overnight, then stick them in a cooler for the flight home. So yea, I know your pain.
posted by cabingirl at 5:27 PM on August 2, 2008

Peanut Chews have been spreading out pretty rapidly since Just Born took over the product, but still pretty local to the mid-Atlantic region. But the webpage seems to indicate that " We are now introducing the entire country to our delicious PEANUT CHEWS® candies"... benefits of globalization?

Tastykakes would be good as well, but they are making the move out as well. Actually, until recently many of the southeastern PA brands were not available west of the Alleghenies (even in PA). About four or five years ago the above started to appear in western PA (I broke being vegan for a krimpet) along with other SEPA favorites like Turkey Hill. It really breaks down the regionalism of PA-sooner or later Pittsburgers will be saying vacuum instead of sweeper and soda instead of pop.

Does A-TREAT make it into Philly or is it an Allentown thing?
posted by buttercup at 6:54 PM on August 2, 2008

buttercup - yep, A-Treat is widely available in the Philadelphia area (I just saw some at Acme) and would be a great regional gift. And, of course, Tastykakes; I'd agree with the same two flavors mentioned earlier. Why eat any other snack cake?! Hmm.. I'm trying to think of something to recommend that hasn't already been mentioned.. Maybe, if your friends/family are vegetable lovers, some good local produce from Reading Terminal or the Headhouse market (or whichever farmers market you like). By local, I mean Jersey tomatoes all the way to the Amish produce. I think they would travel better than hoagies, cheesesteaks, and soft pretzels, at least.

Tom Sturgis is local (I'm not sure if it's available elsewhere), and, as far as pretzels go, it's a favorite at my house.. Definitely a good bet for your pretzel lovers!
posted by Mael Oui at 8:26 PM on August 2, 2008

Peanut Chews.

If your friends have cats, get them the philly cheesesteak flavored cat treats they have at the reading terminal market and the chi-chi pet boutiques.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 9:29 PM on August 2, 2008

Philadelphia Brewing Company is 100% Philadelphia and makes fantastic beers (my favorites are the Kenzinger and the Newbold IPA). Get a couple of cases of it and give a six to everyone you stay with. I know it's available at the Bella Vista distributor, and you can also pick up cases at the brewery itself on Saturdays.

Also, seconding (thirding?) soft pretzels...they really don't travel well, though, unless you freeze them. I've tried and failed.
posted by ethorson at 9:52 PM on August 2, 2008

Perhaps some Amorosa bread? The hoagies or cheese steaks wouldn't keep, but some good rolls would probably be appreciated.
posted by nursegracer at 10:03 PM on August 2, 2008

You should take the joke man from South Street back with you. That's a real taste of Philadelphia. Whats the best nation in the world? Do-nation. He definitely has enough to go around.

I saw him buying Playstation games an hour after I gave him a dollar once. I sure am glad I helped fund his Final Fantasy habit. Dick.
posted by onedarkride at 6:19 AM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

I forgot: Taylor Pork Roll.
posted by fixedgear at 11:49 AM on August 3, 2008

Response by poster: Wow - you guys are awesome.

Currently I'm leaning towards TaskyKakes, birch beer, Philadelphia Brewing Company beer, and Tom Sturgis Cheese Pretzels (thanks for the confirmation on them, Mael Oui). I was sad sad sad when Young's closed, (although I understand Franklin Fountain bought the clear toys molds), so the local chocolate is a great idea - both Lore's and Wilbur buds. And I'm liking the Peanut Chews idea, expanding though they may be. My boyfriend's from central PA and introduced me to A-Treat soda, which I'd forgotten about.

I'm from the Maryland suburbs of DC and grew up eating scrapple there, although it was different from the scrapple I see up here. I'm betting that and Taylor Pork Roll would be a little challenging for the audience I have in mind (too bad for them), and I don't want their only exposure to soft pretzels to be disappointing, so those I won't attempt.

That's a good point about not having a large Italian community - I forgot that was one of the biggest things I noticed when I moved up to Phila from tha ATL. I may look around for some sausages and cheeses. I'll tell you what Atlanta does have though - tons of authentic, cheap Mexican food. I can't wait.
posted by killerinsideme at 5:23 PM on August 3, 2008

I imagine that anything listed on this site: http://www.pasnacks.com/ would be desirable....I'd vote for middleswarth potato chips. Bar-B-Q flavor is pretty good.
posted by enfa at 7:35 PM on August 4, 2008

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