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Strange Holiday Food Gifts

I work in the home office of an group insurance company that has sales offices across the country. Every year many of these sales offices send token gifts to my department as a holiday rememberence. Believe me, these gifts are greatly appreciated because they demonstrate that someone has thought enough to thank us for our work. As with many "corporate" gifts, however, some are good and some are well intentioned, but somehow miss the mark.

This year the good ones included a 5 lb tin of miniature Hershey chocolate products, several boxes of home-made type cookies from various boutique bakers, and a package containing 3 kringles from Wisconsin. If you don't know what a kringle is, google it. They are very cool.

The not-so-good ones include a number of those "towers of treats" that were obviously packaged over a year ago and a delicious pecan pie that was just not appropriate to divide amongst 20 people in an office setting. The topper was a fruit cake, in the shape of the state of Texas. No kidding.

How about you? What holiday food gift did you get that didn't quite hit a bullseye?

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  1. Right up there with your Texas-shaped fruitcake, a few years back I received a truly awful corporate gift--a pita bread emblazoned with the company's logo and a recipe book of things to make with a pita...it smelled funny in its little gift box and I had to trash it quickly. Bad! The next year, same company sent a giant, decorated fortune cookie...much better. ;)

    1. lets see, this years terrible gifts(as terrible as a gift can be, because hey......its a gift):
      5$ starbucks card in a xmas card from a material supplier

      Twinkie cake(invision a 10x10 grid of Twinkies.....frosted)

      The funniest one was a large tin of Werthers Originals. BLECK!!!

      1 Reply
      1. re: nkeane

        I would love the Werther's! But I know what you mean. I received a card for Dunkin' Donuts. Helloooo - I run a bakery. We make donuts that are 200% better than DD. What were they thinking? (and yes, they know this is a bakery!)

      2. a few years ago, a friend of mine decided to bake spicy-gingerbready cookies to give out. Well, the cookies turned out very thick and hard, with an overly spicy taste (my tastebuds were attacked by ginger!!). Some of them were burnt. Basically, total baking disaster.
        but, even after tasting them, he still decided to give them out in pretty wrapping, claiming that "it was his first try at baking", and "isn't it the thought that counts?"
        kind of awkward...

        1. My parents got a few strange food gifts this year. They're in the south (VA). One was a sort of chex mix--pretzels, chex, and even M&M's... covered in white chocolate sauce. Looked gross but it was actually oddly tasty. They also got a cheese spread that looked like shredded kraft w/mayo and I don't know what else thrown in. Didn't touch that one.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Lucia

            Hmm ... could that cheese spread have been Pimento Cheese? I've been making that a lot lately and just love it, but the purchased version in the depths of my mother's fridge was truly nasty.

            1. re: MMRuth

              Now that you mention it, it could have been an extremely bastardized version of pimento cheese. I've had pimento and find it unoffensive. In this jar, you could really see the differentiation between the shredded cheese and the mayo--it wasn't mixed well at all.

              1. re: MMRuth

                Yes, Pimento Cheese made with good ingredients is wonderful.

              2. re: Lucia

                The white chocolate mix was probably White Trash - a friend brought some to one of my parties this year. Like you I was dubious, but it tasted great!

              3. Somehow we always wind up with a Gingerbread house. Don't get me wrong, the workmanship, time to put one together won't be argued by me...but as a gift...am I suppose to eat it? Break it apart into pieces for every employee? Regift it? I never know what to do. This year, we auctioned two off for the foodbank...

                1. Sugar cookies shaped like feet from a podiatrist. Weird, but good.

                  4 Replies
                    1. re: catrn

                      LOL! Now that's a gift with imagination.

                      1. re: catrn

                        on those foot cookies, catrn, did you bite off the toes, singing "this little piggy went to market?"

                        1. re: alkapal

                          LOL Alkapal, I will have to remember that for next year. Looking back, I do eat the toes first. Small to big toe and then the rest of the foot. I will never again eat them without thinking of that song :)

                      2. I have to admit I would love to receive a fruitcake shaped like Texas. Or a fruitcake not shaped like Texas. I love fruitcake!

                        The worst gift my office got this year was a box of "gourmet" cookies, each individually wrapped, and of the worst quality. A bag of Chips Ahoy would have been better, these cookies were seriously terrible.

                        The other bad office gift price goes to the vender who gave a bottle of wine to everyone on out staff--everyone except the people he forgot. We're all in one big room, but somehow he missed a bunch of us. Including the boss.

                        1. My boss got a small jar of pink, Himalayan salt this year from a vendor. He had no idea what it was or what he was supposed to do with it. He is a bachelor and his idea of "cooking" is opening a jar of sauce or microwaving something.

                          1. A beer making kit 2 months after I stop drinking! I will, however keep it until I get down to a 34 (32?) waist. And then celebrate!

                            1. My brother and his family (who live in another state, but we do email and talk by phone every few weeks--i.e., we aren't strangers) sent me two dozen English muffins. Understand that I live alone, in a large city where we have grocery stores and bakeries. The muffins were huge, almost 3" tall--wouldn't fit in my toaster slots, so I had to split each half in half again. And worst of all, they didn't get crunchy or have lots of little nooks and crannies for butter--I mean, isn't that the whole point of English muffins??

                              6 Replies
                                1. re: rockandroller1

                                  Or Wolfermans muffins. I love them but they need more work than a quick pop in the taoster because of their density. A toaster oven to heat through split muffins and then toast the top and bottom works best.

                                  1. re: tomatoaday

                                    Yes, they're Wolferman's, and I came home to find another dozen on my door step yesterday! It turns out that I have a three month subscription...

                                    1. re: Erika L

                                      There needs to a forum for swapping "of the month" club subscriptions. You could unload your English muffins get Harry and David pears, or micro brewed beers instead.

                                  2. re: rockandroller1

                                    Huh. I always thought crumpets and English muffins were the same thing.

                                    1. re: mordacity

                                      in the US, they're diff--not sure about other places. Crumpets are made from a thin, runny yeasted batter (like pancake batter) that's cooked in rings on a griddle. You don't split them; rather, you toast them whole and then top with whatever. English muffins, on the other hand, are made from a thicker, drier dough, more like a soft and moist bread dough. They're also cooked on a stove top but have a "closed" top and rise a lot more and have to be split before being toasted.

                                2. Ten pounds of dried red Hatch hot chile peppers! Does my brother know me or what?

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                    I am red with envy!!! One of my on-line purchases this year will be Hatch green chilis. I swear on my mamma's old Joy of Cooking!

                                    One of the BEST foodie gifts my husband got was a big jar of hand-canned chipotles & garlic. Brought back in my daughter's suitcase from Mexico, wrapped in layers of plastic & duct tape.

                                    1. re: PattiCakes

                                      Got cheap Southwest tickets to Las Vegas for our Winter vacation. My brothere lives in Henderson and we have a little red Miada and camping gear to use. Will probably go to Death Valley Warm and full moon, but might head to NM or LA to visit friends. But in any case, lots of Mexican food on the agenda.

                                  2. None of us are big into sweets.....one person sends Dh peppermint bark from Williams-Sonoma each year. Nice gift, just not our speed, so we regift (in this case our daughter took it to her boyfriend's family's celebration as they have a large family). The real kicker is my SIL (who we sent a lovely basket of breads, cheeses and brownies from Zingermans) sent us a tin of assorted (and unattractive) Christmas cookies mixed in with Hershey kisses. And it arrived December 29th. We gave it to our bartender friends at our watering hole.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                      janet, perhaps a re-gift. albeit a very tacky one. so when it is again re-gifted, as you did the SIL's cookies, is it a tre-gift? ;-).

                                      1. re: alkapal

                                        SIL made the cookies herself, so I know it wasn't a re-gift. And we always do a full disclosure when re-gifting. My one SIL is the queen of crap gifts. Thankfully my other SIL is much more thoughful :-) And what killed me is she spent $9 shipping the stuff.

                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                          oh my! LOL! maybe she needs some good recipes! ;-).

                                          1. re: alkapal

                                            She's 63 and her idea of living on the edge is a loaded baked potato :-) We always laugh when she and her Dh come to town because he's a huge foodie and is so happy for the opportunity for food with spices, prepared well, etc. It's a joy to see him.....meanwhile she is asking for the plainest thing she can find.

                                            1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                              "living on the edge is a loaded baked potato" -- i know people like that, too. is she a beef-well-done gal, too?

                                          2. re: Janet from Richmond

                                            Is she sending them as a toss-off? Or does your SIL put a lot of time and effort into her baking (even if still unattractive)? That can make a huge difference.

                                            I guess I always wonder if people are in a tough financial situation and/or take real pride in their baking, and thus think the cookies are really from their heart. My mother used to give out huge trays and tins of her homemade cookies to people (albeit never as a holiday gift - she always gave a gift as well), and she even included the Hershey's kisses.

                                      2. Strange but lovely: Duck fat for Christmas
                                        Not strange and very lazy (thank you Dean.... grrrr) : Cheese and sausage roll gift pack from Overstock.com. I mean really. He and his wife are getting that when they come out here to visit in three years. Yep. That is the expiration date. Until then, it is a conversation piece and emergency food.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. The towers of treats are quite bad--why anyone gives them at all is beyond me. They're up there with the summer sausage from Hickory Farms my FIL keeps trying to convince us to eat (instead it moves from house to house whenever there's a gathering).

                                          In general, anyone who gives me chocolate I find to be an idiot. While I'll bake with it, my known allergies (yes, some people really are allergic to cocoa), are very well known to the people I know. During the holidays, I even broke up with one guy, who decided to tell me in minute detail how he made the best Mexican chocolate from abuelitas. I stared at him, guessing that he would eventually figure out the problem. After about 10 minutes, he finally yelled WHAT? So I asked whether he was aware that abuelitas were made from chocolate. Yeah, so? I'm allergic to chocolate... He huffed and probably slammed the door, blaming me for being so insensitive to his excitement about making me hot cocoa. Btw, the guy was 12 years older than me and we had been dating for a few years.

                                          1. Not so strange, but lazy I suppose. My boyfriend received a box of cordial cherries (the kind that run a couple of bucks from the mass retailers and drug stores around the holidays) that had expired the PRIOR November. As in 13 months before.

                                            1. A gift box that included:
                                              --a miniature wooden spoon, like 7" long
                                              --a 2 oz. bottle of garlic flavored olive oil
                                              --dried-veggie-'n-herbs-pack
                                              --approximately 1 oz. of handmade-looking dried penne

                                              all packaged in a box with a faux-handmade label with a recipe for cooking everything (in a miniature pan? to feed a small rabbit?). It was obviously purchased at a fake country store or maybe a discount store. I wanted to salvage the oil, at least, but threw everything out, because I was suspicious that the whole thing was made in China and 10 years old.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: smittys

                                                Smart move, the throwing out. I have received similar gifts, only to find "little friends" living in the dried pasta. The size/amount of the ingredients in your package is a little odd.