HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


best mail order treats

i would like to send a very generous friend of mine who lives in the bay area a food gift by mail. the closest experience i have to mail order food ( and not fruit) is the bad holiday gift baskets vendors sent to my office and they're usually not very good. i was thinking of send her cookies or some sort of baked goods. can any suggest a decent food mail order? i was going to order from mrs. beasley or diamond organics but i've only sent fruits from the latter. what about harry and davids? any input would be greatly appreciated! thanks!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The fruit from Harry and David's is beautiful - I'd make sure to do all fruit, and not a basket that includes other things, which I invariable give or throw away.

    6 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      I ordered pears from Harry and David's and they were terrible. I called the company and they sent another order (free). It was a good gesture, however, the pears were still terrible.

        1. re: vtt7

          Generally speaking, it has been my experience that Harry & David fruit shipments are excellent. On a couple of occasions, the fruit has been much less than excellent- and with one phone call, a brand new shipment is on its way. No questions asked. I give them credit for that.

          1. re: vvvindaloo

            That's been my experience, too--the fruit has been divine, both in flavor and appearance. But I agree with MMRuth--their other food products aren't as good. They have a few outlet stores around the northwest, and I've mostly been disappointed with food I've bought there. And I got some of their chocolate truffles as a gift last Christmas that were waxy and pretty much inedible--and it takes a LOT to put me off chocolate!

            1. re: MsMaryMc

              Agreed - takes a lot for me to throw out chocolate!

              1. re: MsMaryMc

                I do not like their non-fresh fruit food products at all.

        2. Also - if chocolate would be welcome, the chocolates from Kee's are incredible:


          One of my favorite places in Manhattan.

          4 Replies
            1. re: Philly Ray

              You can't go wrong with chocolate. Kee's is absolutely fabulous. As are the chocolates from Jacque Torres, also in NY (www.mrchocolate.com) . I've ordered them for my wife several times and never been disappointed. I wasn't aware that Kee's did mail order. I will check that out.

              1. re: Philly Ray

                2nd John and Kiras...I just ordered the chocolate bees from them after someone suggested them on another thread.

                They are divine. Beautiful and delicious.

              2. re: MMRuth

                I went to this link (have been there before) and do not see anyway to order Kee's chocolates on-line. Am I missing something? The only way I've been able to get their chocolate is to schlep into the city (a pleasure anyway).

              3. I don't know if it would fit exactly with what you have in mind, but in case it might and/or for the sake of the search engine and posterity, how about a gift box from Hell's Kitchen restaurant in Minneapolis? http://www.hellskitcheninc.com/hellsk... Their housemade peanut butter is fantastic and their sausage bread which is, remarkably, more like a quick bread than a savory bread, is quite celebrated. It doesn't sound that great when you read the ingredients, but it is. I love their cocoa, too.


                1 Reply
                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  looks fun. unfortunately, she's a vegetarian and i think i'm looking for more of a feminine or fancy looking packaging and items. maybe unusual chocolates? she is definitely a foodie.

                2. Manhattan Fruitier delivers most, but not all, of it's gift baskets to the Bay area. Not only are the contents always excellent, their packaging is simply unsurpassed. I used to give these as corporate gifts and heard from many that they the were the lovliest they'd ever received.

                  Ooops. Forgot to add link:


                  1. maybe dean & deluca(very pricey, but delicious stuff) or zingerman's in Michigan look like they have fun stuff

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: cmarie

                      The Creamery at Washington State University produces their Cougar Gold Cheddar that I think is the best cheddar produced in the United States, at any rate. I think it is available only through them. See their website for a description, shipping information, etc.

                      1. re: ekammin

                        Mmmmmmmm...I'll second the Cougar Gold rec!

                        Washington State University: WSU Creamery
                        Pullman WA, Pullman, WA

                        1. re: ekammin

                          I haven't heard of this cheese before. May I ask why you think it is the best cheddar in the country? There's lots of competition for that claim!

                          1. re: Outerspace

                            I'll have to do some research and get back to you (mmmmm...tasting every cheddar made in the country...), but I know already that Cougar Gold is damn good!

                            1. re: MsMaryMc

                              Somebody I know brought this cheese to a vacation house we shared, and it was really, really delicious. Really!

                      2. If she weren't already in the Bay Area, I'd suggest jams or marmelades from June Taylor. Fabulous stuff! I haven't mail-ordered from them, but I did send a friend to get some when he was in SF/San Jose. The fruit conserves he chose for me were divine.

                        Since she's so close to these delights, see this thread for other ideas:

                        What foods do you HAVE to mail order?


                        1. Jaques Torres in New York does wonderful chocolates (my wife adores them). http://www.mrchocolate.com This time of year, they'll do two-day shipping so the shipping cost isn't so bad.

                          1. Really good, interesting chocolate- definitely a favorite of mine:


                            Also, Mariebelle Chocolates in NYC- they also have hot chocolate (the Mexican hot chocolate is amazing) and teas:

                            very feminine and beautiful packaging- I save all the tins to keep my other misc. items in.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: teamuse

                              www.ohdanishbakery.com and the www.byrdcookiecompany.com are 2 of the absolute best places to order for gifts. The food is so delicious- I may have to order some for myself. The raspberry items at both are to die for...

                              1. re: MeffaBabe

                                I just used www.ohdanishbakery.com. (thanks, MeffaBabe!) My friends ***raved*** about it and said the Danishes were the best they had ever had in their lives.

                            2. my FAVORITE place to send gifts from is www.zingermans.com. they have so many delicious, unique things there-- ive sent gift baskets (that i choose what goes in), special cheeses, they also put together like a "reuben sandwich" package. my best go-to gift though are the really delicious pear and fig mostardas. every time i send someone a jar of it, they just go crazy for it. its like a mustard scented pear or fig jam... its so good with cheese... please try it.

                              and, i dont know how important this is to you, but zingermans has, by far, the best customer service of any mail order ive ever worked with. one time a package was stolen from the apartment building i was living in, and when i called them to replace the order, they replaced it themselves... for free.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: elnora

                                A differing view:

                                I was given a Zingerman's gift card a couple of years back, and began ordering from the company a couple of times a year. Their products are generally the best or among the best in class. However, two factors have ensured that for the time being they've lost my custom.

                                Firstly, Zingerman's prices are somewhat high. In some cases, items have crept up in price; in others, the prices are simply astronomical. In shopping elswhere, I discovered that, for example, a liter can of Alziari olive oil (and if you haven't tried it, you should) is actually less expensive at Williams-Sonoma -- an outfit not usually noted for sensible prices.

                                Secondly, and more problematically, Zingerman's shipping prices are ridiculous. My last purchase was to use a $30 gift certificate; I selected three items. Shipping was $14! To compare, let's look at another food concern, Pfaelzer brothers (http://www.pfaelzerbrothers.com/). A few years ago, during my dad's final hospitalization, we ordered Christmas dinner from Pfaelzer's, not knowing if I would be home or in any shape to cook. (This is the item http://www.pfaelzerbrothers.com/Dinne... and it was really good). At Pfaelzer's, you have to order $100 worth of food to reach the shipping cost I paid Zingerman's for $30! And they're both here in the upper midwest with me.

                                So, while I love their products, I'll not be doing business with them for awhile.

                                1. re: jmckee

                                  I agree with everything you say about Zingerman's. I live 40 minutes away from there and rarely go because of the prices. It's easy to drop over $20 on a takeout lunch. Zingerman's is useful when you need something that is hard to find. I'm grateful for that. But in general, there other places to go for specialty foods.

                                  1. re: mctoft

                                    Another pricing example: Broadbent Breakfast Sausage at is $9 for a 1-lb. bag at Zingerman's. Direct from Broadbent (http://www.broadbenthams.com/) it's $12.25 for two 1-lb bags. (Get this sausage -- it's wonderful!


                                    Similarly, Zingerman's sells a Broadbent cured ham (12-14 lbs.) for $125. Direct from Broadbent, the same ham is less than 60 bucks.

                              2. I like dancing deer cookies. We've gotten them sent to us from other offices, and the quality is excellent. http://www.dancingdeer.com/

                                1. Fran's dessert sauces (Seattle chocolate maker) -- I like the chocolate and raspberry best. Of course, anything chocolate from her is good. (please bring back the figlets...please!)

                                  I sent them to my Step-mother for Christmas about five years ago and she has requested them every year since...and then my sisters complained when I didn't send them jars as well.


                                  1. i just heard about a company that allows you to "adopt" an olive tree for a yearly fee...and they send you all the produce - the olives & the oil - from it. i think it's a pretty cool idea. granted, it wouldn't be appropriate for anyone who's trying to eat locally...but if you already buy olive products from italy, they might as well be your very own! i think it's a great gift idea, and definitely worthy of the the $130 price tag.


                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      That reminds me of another site I found a while back--they let you "lease" all sorts of things and send you what they produce--an oyster bed, a goat, a maple tree, a berry patch...


                                      1. re: MsMaryMc

                                        what an awesome, unique idea. thanks for posting the link!

                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          yes, thanks to everyone. these ideas are also great for the upcoming holidays!

                                    2. Just came across your post now so I know its to late for this season but for next year or whenever the occasion might arise....My top gifts that I like to send when I need something xtra special is stone crabs from Joes Stone Crabs in Fl. (include the key lime pie if you can but the stone crabs on their own always makes a nice gift). The other thing I send is the Porterhouse steaks from Peter Lugars. Their amazing!

                                      The champagne truffles from Teucher chocolates are great too. Agree with other recommendations of Manhattenfruitier, Zingermans, Dean and Deluca, and chocolates from Jaques Torres. Also love Enstroms toffee. (Reread your post, and saw you wanted baked goods..well in that case, Zingermans would be good.. I've sent bread from there before and had lots of positive feedback as well as their famous sourcream coffeecake. Dean and Deluca also put together a basket for me with a lot of baked goods and cookies.

                                      P.S. I don't like Harry and Davids although my friend sends pears every year from here and swears they are wonderful as do many other people, nor do I like the Omaha Steaks at all and would definately not send.

                                      1. There is a tiny Catholic monastery in the Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula. They provide various unusual gift baskets of home made cakes, jams, etc.. The website is:
                                        Please check it out.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: SonyBob

                                          Also, try the Trappist Abbey at Gethsemani, in Kentucky (www.monks.org). These Cistercian monks and priests make outstanding Trappist cheese, Bourbon fudge, and their outstanding Bourbon fruitcake -- the best I've had since Mom died. Their online shop is at www.gethsemanifarms.org. And they pay shipping (see my gripe about Zingerman's above)!

                                          1. re: SonyBob

                                            just wanted to second this suggestion - they have an amazing array of jams and baked goods.

                                            1. re: marina13

                                              I'll third this suggestion. Great prices, great products, great service.

                                          2. Today I received a gift of absolutely delicious cookies from a place I had never heard of but which I have now added to my own gift source list. Google "Byrd Cookie Company". It's been in business in Savannah GA since 1924. The cookies sent to me are "Key Lime Coolers", intensely citrus-flavored and very buttery, just perfect little cookies.

                                            1. I saw two interesting mail order treats on the Food Network, and they are:


                                              1 Reply
                                              1. For fish: www.seabear.com
                                                Cheesecake: & fruit cakes: http://www.newskete.com/shopping/shop...
                                                Newskete is also very well known for their German shepherd dogs and dog training.

                                                1. Some of the best bacon and ham to be found! Wow!! (Mouth is watering heavily now!)


                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: menton1

                                                    I ordered one of their hams for Xmas once. It wasn't bad but it wasn't special in any way, either.

                                                  2. Mr. Spear, Stockton, CA, sends out the best asparagus on the planet. I've ordered from them for over 25 years and NEVER a problem. Plus, people who like asparagus (who doesn't) go giddy bonkers over the gift. They are huge spears, but cook like they were pencil thin. They also ship large RIPE strawberries that my niece gets for her birthday each year. Other items are offered, but I've only done the asparagus and strawberries so can't comment on their artichokes, avocados, etc. Try it once and you & friends will never enjoy asparagus more! They have a web site allowing you to look at the offerings and order from it.

                                                    1. I came across this post while looking for an alternative to Frog Hollow Farm (which carries some of the best fruit in the world -- but shipping is just crazy) for pears and thought I'd throw in my two cents.

                                                      Thanks to Peter Meehan's article in the NYTimes (http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/20...), I've ordered citrus and avocados from Friend's Ranch for the past couple of years and have always been incredibly pleased with the produce. I like getting the Plain Jane box. http://friendsranches.com/

                                                      Beans might not seem like the best gift, but trust me, if your giftee has even the smallest affection for legumes, you should order them some from Rancho Gordo: http://www.ranchogordo.com/.

                                                      And for country ham and bacon, nobody beats Allan Benton: http://bentonscountryhams2.com/.

                                                      1. I love the tart cherry concentrate and dried cherries from Cherry Republic in Michigan. You might want to look their offerings up. Except for the cherry salsa, I've really enjoyed almost everything i've gotten from them. If you like cherries you should give them a look.