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Take-home foodie souvenirs from Chicago?

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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!

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

    1. 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. 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

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

        2. 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. 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

              This would be my recommendation too.

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

              2 Replies
              1. re: feta

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

                1. re: feta

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

                2. 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

                    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

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

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: kcchan

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

                      2. 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

                          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!

                          1. 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

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

                            2. 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

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

                                1. re: stacey8989

                                  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

                                    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

                                      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

                                        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

                                        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. 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

                                    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. How about a Twinkie. :)