50 Food Gifts from 50 States
Alabama: Great Grits
Any discussion of Southern foods isn't complete without mentioning grits, and any discussion of Alabama grits isn't complete without mentioning McEwen & Sons. Lifelong southerner Susan McEwen McIntosh, whose brother owns and operates the popular gristmill, put her love of grits into words — and 100-plus recipes! — with her “Glorious Grits” cookbook. Pair an autographed copy with a 2-pound bag of grits for a special gift with Southern flair.
Alaska: Go Fishing
Our largest state in the nation is renowned for its fishing (particularly Copper River and Chinook salmon, which is the state fish), and now you can get it directly from the fisherman himself. Rich Wheeler, along with his wife Sena, operate Sena Sea, where if he's not busy catching fish he's driving across the state delivering it — and shipping it fresh. Try their Seasonal Sampler Box, which includes two portions each of six-ounce halibut, black cod, and salmon.
Arizona: Fruit of the Cactus
You can take the girl out of Arizona, but as one Allstar shows us, the fondness for prickly pear edible items never goes away. "I currently live in California, but am from Scottsdale, so my favorite gift that reflects where I'm from is prickly pear jelly," says Lisa of Hayward, California. "I mean, where else would you find jelly made from the fruit of the cactus?" Cameron Trading Post's jelly is made with prickly pear juice, sugar, lemon juice, and pectin.
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.
California: Golden Gift
It's hard to narrow down the bounty of produce that hails from California, but Allrecipes Allstar Jessaca from Modesto does it for us: She recommends almonds as a good grown-in-California gift. "I live where Blue Diamond Almond is. My house is surrounded by almond trees!" she says. Try one of their gourmet flavors like pink Himalayan salt for a special holiday treat.
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.
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 Sugo's, one pound of pasta, pasta server and towel. Call for pricing.
Florida: A Dose of Sunshine
"I find that a box of oranges — or a combination of oranges, tangelos, and grapefruit — shipped from a grove makes a particularly welcome gift," says Pat, an Allstar from Tampa. "It's always a treat for somebody who is, perhaps, looking out their window at a foot of snow, to receive a gift from the Sunshine State." Try a five-pound trio from Poinsettia Groves, which includes navel oranges, tangelos, and ruby red grapefruit.
Georgia: Be a Peach!
What else would you expect from the Peachtree State: Our Allstars unanimously (and enthusiastically!) voted for "anything with peaches!!!" as Jennifer from Acworth says. Rebekah of Lilburn concurs. "Homemade peach goodies are perfect gifts from this state. I especially like peach salsa!" Georgia Peach World offers a variety of salsas, including a sweet Vidalia onion and golden peach blend.
Hawaii: Tropical Tastes
The world's first macadamia nut farm was located in Hawaii, putting the Aloha State permanently on the map for these creamy, sweet-yet-salty snacks, where there are now 700 macadamia nut farms. Try Mauna Loa's four-pack gift set, which includes Maui onion and garlic, dry roasted, and milk and dark chocolates.
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 Deep-Dish Delivery
No pizza war is complete without the addition of Chicago's famous deep-dish style. To share your love, no matter where the object of your gift lives, compile a deep-dish pizza-making kit, suggests Allstar Lora of Lostant. Try this trio, including a Gebardi crust mix, The Great Chicago-Style Pizza Cookbook by Pasquale Bruno Jr., and a non-stick deep-dish pizza pan.
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
Allstar Angie from Waterloo confirms that "anything corn-related" is still a tried-and-true way to show Iowa pride. "We are a farming state and have the best sweet corn!" she boasts. Give a nod to the Hawkeye State's harvest with the Heart of Iowa's corn-shaped hazelnut praline candies.
Kansas: Special Sauce
"Kansas BBQ is the best!" raves Angela, an Allstar from Olathe, referring to the region's popular slow-smoked grilling phenomenon, 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: Bluegrass Baker
Ask any Kentuckian about their famous Hot Brown sandwich and they'll likely be able to tell you the origin story: originating in Louisville's Brown Hotel restaurant in the 1920s to feed hungry guests from the dance floor, the Hot Brown is an open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and Mornay cheese sauce. Stoneware and Co. has included the famous recipe scrolled in blue on a hot-brown baking dish.
Louisiana: A Spicy Delivery
Jumbalaya. Gumbo. Crawfish boil. No matter what's for dinner, if you're from Louisiana, it's just not right without one ingredient: Cajun spices! Slap Ya Mama's Black Pot Gift Set includes a blend of two seasonings (original and hot), Cajun pepper sauce, and a one-quart cast iron pot — just the right ingredients to steer anyone toward creating a proper Pelican State delicacy.
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.
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. "Friends from all over ask me to mail it to them," says Stacy, an Allstar from Wayzata, of the state grain that's grown in the northern Minnesota's lakes and marshes. "There are so many dishes that can be made with it!" 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: Special Sauce
"Hoover Sauce is the bomb for marinating," raves Allstar Staci of Madison. Invented in the 1980s by grocer Hoover Lee, a native of China who started his famous Asian-inspired marinade and barbecue sauce in a tiny town of 300 in the Mississippi Delta, Hoover sauce is now a fixture on wings — and any meat, really — throughout the state.
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.
Montana: Bursting Berries
Give those on your holiday list a Montana breakfast featuring the unofficial state berry: huckleberries! The Big Sky State is loaded with everything huckleberry, from jams to ice cream, even margaritas. The Huckleberry Patch's Breakfast Crate is a perfect gift for a breakfast-lover on your list, including huckleberry-flavored syrup and pancake mix.
Nebraska: Beef Up
In the Cornhusker state, meat reigns supreme — but none more than Omaha Steaks. What started as an Omaha butcher shop in 1917 is now a fifth-generation family business that's one of America's largest beef producers. Give steak lovers a different way to enjoy Omaha steaks this holiday: Buttery-smooth and delicate Omaha filet mignon sliders with a creamy-yet-tangy special mustard aioli.
Nevada: Pick a Peck
Bring a taste of Vegas into your holiday tradition with the Boozy Pickle. Made from Nevada Brining Company, which excels at artisanal "bar accoutrements" like pickles, rubs, brines, and sauces, the barrel-cut original pickles feature six of the Silver State's whisky distilleries, plus chili peppers for an extra kick.
New Hampshire: The Perfect Pair
If you have someone on your list who loves to entertain, surprise them with a cheese-pairing sampler from Wozz! Kitchen Creations, which since opening in Bethlehem in 2013 is quickly racking up annual food awards for the Granite State. Try their six-spread sampler, including balsamic fig, Thai hot pepper jelly, and sticky date chutney.
New Jersey: Pick and Chews
Rainbow cookies are almost too pretty to eat. (Emphasis on the word "almost.") Made of almond cake with raspberry-apricot jam and coated with dark chocolate, rainbow cookies are a staple in the Italian cookie category. Share this classic New Jersey delicacy straight from the famous Hoboken establishment (of Cake Boss fame) Carlo's Bakery.
New Mexico: Red Hot Ring
A generic term for peppers that grow in the Hatch Valley region of New Mexico, Hatch chili peppers are ubiquitous in the Land of Enchantment, spicing up dishes throughout the Southwest. Add New Mexican flair to an old-time holiday tradition with a Hatch chili pepper wreath.
New York: Holiday Schmear
It's the lament heard around the nation from New Yorkers: "Where can I get a good bagel around here?" Well, don't hate them for their bagel snobbery — if you had H&H bagels around the corner, you'd be one, too. Whether you have a New Yorker on your list, or you want to school others on the Great Bagel Debate, H&H is THE place where you can ship a dozen bagels with cream cheese (try the cinnamon raisin and walnut raisin spread combo).