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Take-home foodie souvenirs from Chicago?

soho Jun 21, 2007 09:40 AM

Looking for something unique from the Chicago area... famous something, must survive a few hours travelling home (on a flight, so no wine, sauce or jam/liquids). Thanks in advance!

  1. p
    pgokey Jul 5, 2007 10:58 PM

    How about a Twinkie. :)

    1. Pate Jun 26, 2007 11:17 AM

      Don't mail order Vienna beef hot dog kits through Lou Malnati's website anymore. I've ordered Vienna beef and Italian beef kits through the former Loutogo.com and now tastesofchicago.com and has the Vienna hot dog kit become a disappointment. You used to get a jar of the green relish and a jar of sport peppers with a Vienna hot dog kit order. Now you get a cryovac pack with a fraction of the quantity that is in the jars. Plus, once you open the pack, how do you store it? Apparently you're supposed to eat it all at once (which is possible because there is such a teeny quantity in the packages). The quantity is only enough for about half the hots dogs you get in the kit so to eat the second half of your hot dogs you'll have to scrounge up toppings from your fridge. What's the point of that? This is a real downer. I really think some marketing genius at Malanti's dropped the ball on this one. Your friends will be underwhelmed if you give them this now. Too bad, it used to be a good gift.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Pate
        kellysue Jul 5, 2007 02:57 PM

        Without a doubt get the Garrett's...the others have said it and I underscore their comments, there is NOTHING like their popcorn. The Chicago mix (caramel and cheese mixed) is to die for, truly my mouth is watering at this moment thinking of it! Also, the Fannie Mae Trinidad's are yum! I'd also bring back a frozen Uno Pizza.

      2. l
        lzrada Jun 22, 2007 02:14 PM

        If you wanted to save the space in your luggage for other items, you can always have Chicago Pizza's, Hot Dogs, Italian Beef, Carson Ribs, WildFire Steaks, Garretts Popcorn shipped directly to your door. Check out http://www.tastesofchicago.com/ which is run by Lou Malnati's (my favorite place for Chicago style pizza). Otherwise keep this website handy for any cravings that you may have in the future. I hope this helps.

        There is also Fannie May Candies that has been a Chicago institution for a number of years. They had left Chicago for a short period of time but they are back. Pixies, Trinidads, and Meltaways are what they are famous for.


        6 Replies
        1. re: lzrada
          stacey8989 Jun 26, 2007 12:04 AM

          I love the Trinidads at Fannie May, the Mix from Garrett, and also the chocolate from Ethels (sold in NV & IL)

          1. re: stacey8989
            Vinny Barbaresco Jun 26, 2007 08:20 AM

            Ethels's is a National chain (I believe it's owned by Hershey's) and IMO, not a special Chicago product. Frango Mints (available at Macy's) are a Chicago original even though Marshall Fields is now Macy's.

            You can also bring back El Milagro tortillas, homemade sausages from any Polish deli or a frozen pizza from Lou Malnati's....

            1. re: Vinny Barbaresco
              wak Jun 26, 2007 09:13 AM

              Ethel is owned by Mars. Interestingly, Mars began as a Chicago based company. Founders was Ethel Mars - hence Ethel M's. But now they are out of NJ and I agree that they don't really count as a local company. Buying Ethel M's has about as much connection to Chicago as buying a Snickers bar (the first Mars product I believe).

              Portillos also has some Chicago packs that can be shipped - hot dogs with all the toppings, Italian beef, etc. Not something to bring back on a plane, but you could always order it on-line.

              What about some sausage from the Paulina Meat Market?

              1. re: wak
                marciab Jun 26, 2007 10:44 AM

                I would recommend the Garretts Popcorn; caramel & cheese mix is the best. And it's pretty easy to take on a plane

                1. re: marciab
                  chicgail Jun 26, 2007 11:29 AM

                  My hearty second to you suggestion. I know that you can get caramel and cheese popcorn elsewhere, but I know of no one that has anything like Garretts.

                2. re: wak
                  stacey8989 Jul 2, 2007 09:56 PM

                  I don't think it's a national chain, but thanks for the info. We don't have it here in Los Angeles (at least not that I've seen) and if it's out there, we usually have it.
                  We do have Frango chocolates.

          2. c
            citywidebill Jun 22, 2007 11:12 AM

            Go to the Vienna Beef outlet at Damen and Elston and get some dogs, poppy seed buns and some green relish. then go to Baris on Grand and get some giardinaras. Walk across the street for the Terrys toffees. Head east to Mr. Beef on Orleans, they'll sell you some thinly sliced roast beef and a side of gravy, just freeze the au jous and seal everything well and you should make it home without incident.

            1 Reply
            1. re: citywidebill
              Pate Jun 22, 2007 01:45 PM

              I wish I knew about the Vienna beef outlet last month. I would have been so there!

            2. s
              SueFH Jun 22, 2007 10:34 AM

              Blommer's Chocolate bars! http://www.columbiachronicle.com/back...

              1. w
                wineaux Jun 22, 2007 09:35 AM

                I've had friends & family look for giardinere elsewhere in the country and have found out it's a Chicago staple. So I end up picking some up and shipping it to them. I'm not sure about doing a carry-on with it, but I'm sure it could be packed & checked with your luggage - just make sure to have it wrapped well!

                1 Reply
                1. re: wineaux
                  manomin Jun 22, 2007 10:16 AM

                  Right! You can buy gardinaira (sp) elsewhere but it's not the same. What is also good to use with said product is another spice packet called Louie's Italian Beef seasoning which I buy at Casey's meat counter. Of course it's not Portillo's or Al's but when I get a
                  beef craving I whip up a batch of this int he old crock pot with a roast of some kind and then dip the sandwiches. We did it for a party once and everyone raved about it. Now I get some packets and bring them home as gifts and people are thrilled, easy to pack too!

                2. k
                  kcchan Jun 21, 2007 08:44 PM

                  I've never had them, but how about Kim and Scott's Gourmet Pretzels? http://www.kimandscotts.com/

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: kcchan
                    LikestoEatout Jun 22, 2007 07:35 AM

                    Kim and Scott's was featured on one of the Food Network shows.

                  2. k
                    kcp118 Jun 21, 2007 05:25 PM

                    I'd pick up some Vosges chocolates. Their locations can be found at the website (the location on the 2nd? floor of the North Bridge Mall on Michigan Ave. might be the easiest to get to from the regular tourist agenda).


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: kcp118
                      Pate Jun 21, 2007 08:10 PM

                      I haven't lived in Chicago for close to 25 years, but I've never heard of Vosges. Wouldn't something like Fanny May be more emblematic of Chicago? I heard they were gone but recently resurfaced.

                      1. re: kcp118
                        sgwood415 Jun 21, 2007 09:33 PM

                        Vosges is available nationwide. Their bars are all over, haven't seen the truffles as much. But it's less of a Chicago thing now. While not as gormet as Vosges, I'd say Frango Mints are more of a Chicago treat.

                      2. f
                        feta Jun 21, 2007 01:42 PM

                        How about Jay's potato chips? A tad fragile, but unique to Chicago.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: feta
                          chicgail Jun 21, 2007 06:17 PM

                          A tad fragile -- and, while unique to Chicago, not that great.

                          1. re: feta
                            Living4fun Jun 26, 2007 10:54 AM

                            Not totally unique to Chicago, we have Jay's in Milwaukee

                          2. Pate Jun 21, 2007 01:29 PM

                            How about spices from the Spice House in Old Town? Small and easy to pack and they have spice blends like:
                            Argyle Street Asian Blend
                            Back of the Yards
                            Bridgeport Seasoning
                            Bronzeville Rib Rub
                            Chicago Deep Dish Pizza
                            Chicago Old Town Sugar
                            Lake Shore Drive
                            Milwaukee Avenue Spice
                            Old World Central Street
                            Pilsen Latino Seasoning
                            Pullman Pork Chop Spice
                            Taylor St Cheese Sprinkle
                            Ukrainian Village Spice

                            Very Chicago...


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Pate
                              wak Jun 21, 2007 01:36 PM

                              This would be my recommendation too.

                            2. manomin Jun 21, 2007 01:00 PM

                              We always bring back at least one if not two pizzas and several pounds of sausage. We wrap the pizza in 2 layers of heavy duty foil and then 3 freezer bags squeezing all the air out, same for the sausages. We then just take them out of the freezer the morning of the flight. They make it just fine after 8 1/2 hours back to Hawaii. Always a hit with our friends when we have our "Mahalo" party for those that take care of our house and grounds and mail while we're gone. I agree that ever since Macy's took over MF that since you can buy the Frango mints anywhere it's not novel at all anymore. I can recall days and months working for Field's in the 70's and 80's and thinking back to how many boxes I had to either wrap, shelve or inventory! Although it was always cool to go up to the candy kitchens on the 13th floor and hang out and see the miracle of confectionary unfolding!

                              1. a
                                Agrayf Jun 21, 2007 11:37 AM

                                When I went to school in Chicago and came home to visit my parents in LA, they wouldn't let me through the door if I didn't have a tub of Garrett's popcorn. http://www.garrettpopcorn.com/

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Agrayf
                                  rubinow Jun 21, 2007 01:55 PM

                                  I just gave my dad and step dad some Garrett's for fathers day. They seemed to like it.

                                2. j
                                  jbw Jun 21, 2007 11:22 AM

                                  Frango Mints have always been a good gift/takehome item:

                                  But since Macy's took over Field's I've switched, my candy purchases to a more artisanal kind, in particular Canady's in the South Loop:

                                  1. weinstein5 Jun 21, 2007 10:22 AM

                                    How about an Eli's Cheesecake or frozen deep dish pie from any one of our stellar pizza places -

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