50 Food Gifts from 50 States
Whether you're showing off state pride, looking for a nostalgic gift for someone who has crossed state borders, or are just curious about other states' delicacies, we've got you covered. We trolled all 50 states and Washington, D.C. to bring you festive food gifts from across the country.
Alabama: White Sauce
When you think of bbq sauces, you may not think of a white sauce, but when it comes to Big Bob Gibson's White Sauce, you'd be missing out. This peppery secret-recipe sauce has been pleasing diners for nearly 100 years - it was first introduced in 1925 - and enhances the flavors of poultry, pork, seafood and even wild game. It's not just for grilled meats, either; give your coleslaw and potato salad a flavor kick, too.
Alaska: The Finishing Touch
The earthly, spicy-sweet flavor of the birch syrup made near Talkeetna elevates pancakes to another level. But for something really special, try the Birch Caramel Ice Cream Topping to turn a bowl of plain vanilla ice cream into a gourmet dessert. The syrup blends with butter, cream, and sugars to create something out of this world. Try it on fruit, toast, or right out of the jar.
Arizona: Hot Tamale
Each tamale that is made at Tucson Tamale Company is hand-rolled and wrapped in a traditional corn husk. The tamales are also certified gluten-free; and hormone-, antibiotic- and lard-free. What you fill find in the meat, vegetarian, and vegan tamales, though, is loads of flavor, like red and green chiles. For a variety, opt for Happiness in a Box: two packs each of Green Chile Pork and Cheese, Green Chile Chicken, Green Chile & Cheese, and Black Bean & Cheese for a total of 16 tamales.
Arkansas: Ozark Buzz
Giving a nod to the Arkansas official state insect (hello, honeybee!), Allstar Nikki from Fayetteville nominates local honey for a great holiday gift. At Bemis Honey Bee Farm, you can buy 100-pack honey sticks to drizzle into coffee, tea, hot toddies — or whatever your hot holiday drink of choice.
Whether the oenophile in your life prefers red, white, or rosé, there's a sip for every palate in this three-pack of highly-regarded 2018 vintages from estate vineyards in the Russian River Valley. To learn more about the wines and to elevate the experience, make reservations for a private virtual tasting with an expert.
Colorado: Sweet Tooth Tempter
Ask a Colorado native for holiday gift suggestions, and Enstrom Candy will likely be on their short-list. For four generations, the Colorado Springs-based candy company has been sweetening up the Centennial State. Give the sweet-tooth on your list a gift of toffee or caramels, or try their classic peppermint cookie bark.
Connecticut: Share a Slice
Legend has it that, in 1705, when the Connecticut town of Colchester experienced an unexpected molasses shortage, not enough to create their beloved pumpkin pie, they postponed Thanksgiving for a week. Norwalk-based Michele's Pies is keeping the pumpkin pie tradition alive in the Constitution State, with 27 national pie championship awards and counting. Give pie-lovers the gift of Michele's maple pumpkin pie with pecan streusel.
Washington D.C.: Chili Out
The unassuming storefront in the city's U Street Corridor has been serving its famous homemade chili to neighbors, celebrities, and even U.S. presidents since opening its doors in 1958. Inside, not much has changed, from the counter, booths and stools, to the secret recipes, which are all original. Enjoy the taste of Ben's at home with a starter pack that includes eight half smokes and a pint of chili sauce to cover them.
Delaware: A Pizza Present
Rehoboth Beach's Nicola Pizza is famous for the Nic-o-Boli, a stromboli/calzone combination that owner Nicholas Caggiano originally whipped up for his employees for an easy shift meal in the '70s, which has since grown into a phenomenon. Share the Italian tradition with Nicola's Gift Pail, including 3 jars of Mama Nicola's Sugo, one pound of pasta, pasta server and towel. Call for pricing.
Florida: Taste of the Sea
Hand-harvested, small batch and 100% pure sea salt from Florida Pure Sea Salt enhances any dish or drink that comes out of the kitchen. Use the natural or infused salts while cooking and baking, as finishing flavors, or even on the rim of a favorite cocktail. Founder and owner Maureen Cacioppo provides serving suggestions and recipes on her social media feeds, along with a card that's included with every order. Mix and match three salts to create your very own Sunshine Wooden Gift Pack.
Georgia: Be a Peach!
What else would you expect from the Peachtree State: "anything with peaches!!!" As might be expected, peach goodies made from around the state make perfect gifts, like peach salsa. Georgia Peach World offers a variety of salsas, including a sweet Vidalia onion and golden peach blend.
Hawaii: Tropical Tastes
What started as a furloughed schoolteacher’s side project has turned into a full-fledged business on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai. Monkeypod Jam founder and owner Aletha Thomas works with more than 25 Kauai farmers to create to create 55 seasonal preserves that showcase the island's tropical flavors. One of our favorites is the Lilikoi Curd: floral and sweet with just a hint of sour, and a bright faste to add to crepes or cakes.
Idaho: A Spud for a Stud
The potato-shaped Idaho Spud has been a best-seller for Idaho Candy Company since it was invented in 1918. Coated with dark chocolate sprinkled with coconut, the inside is a soft marshmallow center (no potatoes were harmed in the making of the Idaho Spud). Gift a classic Gem State treat with a 24-count box.
Illinois: A Pop of Flavor
No visit to Chicago is complete without a stop at Garrett's for its original Chicago-style popcorn. Its first store opened downtown in 1949, tempting passers-by with the scent of caramel cooking. Today, one of Garrett's fan favorites is the Garrett Mix: a perfect, salty-sweet blend of CaramelCrisp and CheeseCorn recipes. Send a tin and share the goodness!
Indiana: Great Grains
Popcorn is such a big deal in Indiana there's even a town named after it (population 42). "Indiana is one of the biggest producers of popcorn in the U.S.," says Tammy, an Allstar from Indianapolis. "Just Pop In is an awesome shop with great flavors ranging from spicy, chocolatey to cheesy, and they offer all kinds of gift boxes and tins. My favorite is the Indy Mix, which is a mix of caramel and cheddar."
Iowa: Candy Corn
Known as a farming state with "the best sweet corn," anything corn-related is still a tried-and-true way to show Iowa pride. Give a nod to the Hawkeye State's harvest with the Heart of Iowa's corn-shaped hazelnut praline candies.
Kansas: Special Sauce
Kansas City's popular slow-smoked grilling BBQ phenomenon is famous for its spice rubs and thick, tomato-based barbecue sauce. While it officially started in its neighboring state of Missouri, the tradition is alive and well throughout the entire region. Joe's Kansas City BBQ Box — a three-pack of meat seasoning, fry seasoning, and, yes, the special sauce — offers a taste of Kansas City BBQ.
Kentucky: Bourbon & Chocolate
Rebecca Ruth Candy Factory began make its sweets in 1919 when the company's namesakes - Rebecca and Ruth - left their teaching jobs and went into business for themselves. The secret recipe that's still used for the Bourbon Ball Chocolate Candy was perfected by Ruth in 1938 and remains a fan favorite: sweet chocolate on the outside, and inside, the smooth, creamy taste of Evan Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon.
Louisiana: A French Treat
Wherever you travel throughout the Pelican State, you're sure to come across beignets, the official state doughnut of Louisiana. Believed to have been brought to the U.S. by French settlers, the mix offered by Orleans Foods is the owners' signature recipe and an extension of their Creole culture and heritage. Mix up the French treat and bring the taste of NOLA home.
Maine: Spread Joy
Wild blueberries are the official state fruit of Maine, with good reason: The Pine Tree State produces 99 percent of wild blueberries in the country. Send a trio of jams from Bar Harbor, which cultivates local blueberries in small, home-style batches: wild blueberry, blueberry-rhubarb, strawberry, strawberry-rhubarb, and raspberry.
Chesapeake Bay has been a popular fishing spot for blue crabs since the mid-1800s, making Maryland a hot spot for all types of crab dishes, from crab cakes to dips to soup. Give those on your gift list a taste of the Free State's bounty with four three-ounce crab cakes from Chesapeake Crab Cakes and More.
Massachusetts: Sweet as Pie
In 1856 Chef M. Sanzian whipped up the first Boston Cream Pie at what is now The Omni Parker House Hotel. All these years later, the dessert is still a favorite, though it's not really a pie but rather a cake filled with pastry cream and topped with chocolate. Order one (or more) to be delivered to your doorstep; pies can be refrigerated for up to two days, or frozen for up a month… if they last that long!
Michigan: Cherry Picked
Drive through northern Michigan, and the state's leading agricultural industry becomes obvious: cherries! The Wolverine State produces over 70 percent of the nation's tart cherries, and is home to everything related to these red berries, including cherry BBQ sauce for the barbecue-lover on your shopping list.
Minnesota: Great Grains
Rice might seem like a funny gift item, but you haven't tried Minnesota wild rice, grown in the northern Minnesota's lakes and marshes. The versatile, low-carb, and high-protein rice is used in everything from soups to salads, pancake mixes, and even cookies and desserts; try this a half-pound bag from Native Harvest, which is grown in northern Minnesota.
Mississippi: Southern Sip
Warm up your winter evenings with the seasonal Winter Spice Mead from Queen's Reward, Mississippi's first meadery. Each of the meads made in Tupelo use 100% pure Mississippi Honey, and each has its own distinct flavor. Cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg add a warm kick to Winter Spice. Serve it cold, or heat it up in a mug and serve with a slice of orange for a gluhwein-style drink.
Missouri: The Show-Me Cake
As legend goes, gooey butter cake —a St. Louis tradition— was originally the result of a chef's butter-and-flour mix-up in the 1930s. But one chef's mistake is another's hit, and gooey butter cake — a thin, ultra-sweet flour cake dusted with powdered sugar — has been all the rage ever since. Try Park Avenue Coffee's famous version of this popular favorite, filled with cream cheese.