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Jul 11, 2008 10:24 PM

Made in Chicago

Hi y'all!

I'm participating in a food swap. I have to send an assortment of food items that are made in Chicago or indicative of Chicago. Here's the catch, I just moved here on the first (did the y'all give it away).

Give me a hand with some ideas of food items that I can ship? So far, I'm thinking Garrett's popcorn or Nuts on Clark, sport peppers, celery salt and that crazy green relish. I heard that the brownie was invented in Chicago, but I'm looking more for local/regional things that aren't readily avaialble outside of the area. Is Fanny May still locally owned? Any other local speciality shops that do something spectacularly? I live in Andersonville, but I'm out in the 'burbs on occasion. Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. I don't see giardiniera too often when I am down in the y'all belt (where I am from too!)

    1. Here's a list of the usual suspects with a few of the lesser known thrown in as well.

      Chicago is known for "inventing" and creating many foods. Unfortunately, many foods that were "created" in Chicago or for which Chicago is known for are not easily transportable.

      Hard to Ship:

      Italian Beef/Sausage
      Saganaki from The Parthenon in Greek Town
      Maxwell Street Polish (Sausage)
      There are a lot of great bakeries (e.g. cupcakes from Sweet Mandy B's, bread from Red Hen) including ethnic bakeries for pita, tortillas, and other bread products, but due to the lack of preservatives, these won't ship easily--unless you use overnight shipping.

      May require overnight shipment/dry ice/etc.:

      Italian Beef/Sausage
      Vienna Beef Hot Dogs
      Eli's Cheesecake
      Deep Dish Pizza--I believe you can send parbaked frozen pizzas from Lou Malnati's and other pizza places--Note, the pizza you get at a Pizzeria Uno outside of Chicago is a different recipe (and company) then the original location.
      Ribs from Twin Anchors

      Easiest to Ship:

      Chocolate and Candy and Gum--Fannie May is still based in Chicago, Frangos (formerly made by Marshall Fields, now Macy's) are being made in Chicago again. Bloomer Chocolate ( (You may smell the sweet scent of Chocolate in the air if you are walking in the West loop.) is also based in Chicago. Tootsie Roll is based here as is Wrigley. And, of course, Lemonheads, Atomic Fireballs, Boston Baked Beans, and Red Hots from Ferra Pan Candy (

      Chicago Spice blends from the Spice House (
      )El Milagro Tortilla Chips
      You can go to Trotters to Go (on Fullerton) to send something with Charlie Trotter's name on it. Frontera Grill products (from Rick Bayless) have national distribution, I believe.
      Goose Island Beer

      1 Reply
      1. re: Chicagofoodguy

        Don't forget Garrett's mix of cheese and caramel popcorn!!

      2. Geg-- i'm lurking and i just want to know the city/region you are *getting* from your swap--which sounds like a ***ton of fun***!!!

        1 Reply
        1. re: soupkitten

          I'm doing a swap with someone from Santa Cruz, CA. It is a fun little project, but made more difficult because I just moved here.

          I'm going to the farmers' market this weekend to look for jams and the like. Any other suggestions?

        2. I think the list you have so far is great. Another thing you can do is send a package of Lou Malnati's (authentic Chicago-style pizza) pizza, Carson's Ribs, Eli's Cheesecake, or Vienna hot dogs! I know you can find all those things (aside from the pizza) outside of Chicago but it could still be fun!

          3 Replies
          1. re: Chew on That

            Terry's Toffee is good, but expensive. I buy the English Toffee from Foodstuffs instead.

            A gift of crackers sounds boring, but Nicole's Divine Crackers are absolutely amazing! Don't be afraid to get the weird flavors.

            Something from the Spice House is a great idea too. I find the custom blends expensive and kind of uneven. Most people seem to like Salad Elegant and Sunny Paris.

            1. re: bibi rose

              Spice House is a great suggestion. I often send people SH's Saigon Cinnamon as a gift. It's much deeper flavored than most cinnamons available. Of course, then I have to go back and send them refills when they run out.

              1. re: chicgail

                Perhapse some Spice House Ethnic Chicago blends would fit the bill...