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Oct 9, 2010 10:07 PM

Any "must get" food items that can travel back to States?

Hi all;

My husband is in London until Thursday for work (we live in Seattle) and I wonder if there's something special foodie treat I can ask him to bring back (must be able to survive long flight and ridiculous U.S. customs, which unfortunately rules out many things I'd love to have.)

Any and all thoughts welcome!



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  1. My son lives near Seattle, and I am always at a loss as to what they might like from England. Tea is an easy choice, but you have that nice British shop at the Pike St. Market! They do like unusual jams that I pack in my suitcase.. or biscuits (cookies) from Fortnum & Mason. If he buys them the day he leaves, your husband could bring back some macarons from Laudurée or Pierre Hermes. I think they would pass Customs but I can't remember. My grandkids enjoy the unusual bags of potato chips.

    1. Yes potato chips - or crisps - as we call them here would be great. I recommend the big bags that marks&spencer do. Actually, it's probably worth him having a good look at marks&spencer's food halls. My friends in america also like "celebrations" chocolates and I have been begged for "curlywurlys". (But then I may have strange friends) Anyway, they are available widely and not expensive.

      1. I know that British products seem like the obvious thing but if he is in London he can also swing by Ladurée, which has a store here in London, and bring you back some macarons.

        1. The slab toffee from a Thornton's shop usually goes down well, especially the fruit and nut and the Brazil nut ones. I always take some bags of Marks and Spencer's toffees with chocolate center. My niece loves curlywurlys as mentioned. She also likes the Crunchy bars which are filled with a honeycomb center. After Eight mints also seem popular there. They are bog standard here though. Bendicks do quite superior ones with mint crisp in them instead of the smooth filling of the After Eights. I've also found that chocolate digestive biscuits always go down well. Dark or light chocolate, depending on your preference. I prefer the dark. A trip to Waitrose would find most of the biscuits and mints. Where is your husband staying?

          I can't remember if you are allowed to bring cheese back or not. Last time I went my bags were x-rayed coming into the US, unlike coming into the UK and I was asked what I had in there. Just jam I said, even though I had cheese and cookies. If you can bring cheese then some hard to find cheese (in Seattle) might be worth bringing back. Good cheddar seems to be hard to find there, in my opinion. I was there 2 years ago and ended up buying some Canadian Cheddar. Or what about some local cheese like Wenseydale, Lancashire or Cheshire. Or Stilton if you like blue cheese.

          5 Replies
          1. re: cathodetube

            oh yes - slab toffee from they still do banana split toffee, too. ...that's fabulous

            1. re: cathodetube

              I'm pretty sure that cheese is not allowed into the U.S.

              1. re: zuriga1

                Cheese to US - over 60 days old (matured) yes; fresh (soft) under 60 days then no. And I believe also no un-pasteurised.

                1. re: PhilD

                  Thanks, Phil. I've never taken cheese back and really didn't know the rules.

                  We Yanks are so big on pasteurisation. :-)

                  1. re: zuriga1

                    It's actually a combination of factors Phil listed - unpasteurised cheeses that are >60 old are ok. Pasteurised cheese of any age should be fine as well. The idea is that potentially harmful pathogens get killed by pasteurisation or after ageing the cheese for >60 days.

                    Also see

            2. I'm not sure it's a "must get" but Gentlemen's Relish (otherwise known as Patum Peperium) is quintessentially English. It''s not to everyone's taste; a spicy salty anchovy paste and is delicious spread thinly on hot buttered post. You'll find it in Fortnum's and most large supermarkets.