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Grocery food items that are unique to Boston/New England?

I am from Michigan and am visiting Boston, North Shore, NH and Maine next week. My wife and I always enjoy grocery shopping for unique items that are indiginous to the part of the country we are vacationing in.
Can New Englanders suggest we purchase any grocery foods unique to Boston/New England that we might enjoy?

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  1. sassy, welcome in advance! Hope these might be helpful:

    Shopping for Boston food souvenirs:



    Guide to Boston by Areas and Restaurants:


    If you need help w/ Boston,North Shore or N.H. restnts, tell us where you will be staying and/or what activities- in these places, so we can best advise you.

    1. Fluff and brown molasses bread in a can are two that come to mind. Gotta get fluff and make a fluffernutter ( marshmallow fluff and peanut butter) .

      5 Replies
      1. re: macca

        These would be my two choices also.

        I was recently in Newport, MI and was suprised to notice Fluff on the shelf at a Meijer's store.

        1. re: Infomaniac

          We vacation in NC every year- and when the kids were small they loved Fluff. We ran out during the week, and were really surprised to find it in the baking aisle at Food Lion.

        2. re: macca

          You need to get out more, Fluff is everywhere. I grew up on it in Chicago in the 60's/70's (as did my kids decades later).

          1. re: ferret

            Yep, I lived off Fluff and peanut butter sandwiches during my poor college days in Philly. Not as far as Chicago, but I never had a problem finding the stuff there.

            1. re: ferret

              did you guys order the nachos or the beers?

          2. Boston Baked Beans, which are actually red candy coated peanuts. Also Necco Wafers, a locally made candy. Also Johnnycake mix comes to mind.

            2 Replies
            1. Cape Cod potato chips (although you might have those in MI), Cains mayonnaise. For a real hoot, check out how many frozen ice cream novelties are offered in a large supermarket, such as Shaw's! Bostonians eat more ice cream per capita than any other U.S. city, and novelties are particularly popular in the summer months.

              1. Can you get Moxie outside of New England? That's pretty unique. Otherwise, I'll second the Fluff-brand fluff (not Kraft marshmallow cream) and canned bread (gotta have it in a meal with canned beans and some hot dogs).

                6 Replies
                1. re: Luther

                  havent heard Moxie mentioned in ages. My grandmother used to love it.

                  1. re: macca

                    My sister is a legislator in Maine and got Moxie declared the official state drink. She says she got letters from all over the US thanking her and recounting childhood Moxie memories. She now gets to lead the annual Moxie parade......

                    1. re: fantundo

                      I swear I've met her! Is she a private school French teacher?

                      1. re: Prav

                        No, she's an administrator at Bates College.

                  2. re: Luther

                    Add the Moxie(on ice) to the canned bread, franks and beans and you've got a Massachusetts/New England meal!

                    1. re: maxevan

                      ...that no one actually eats anymore, hah!

                      Maine has some good stuff, e.g., blueberries and molasses. Stonewall Kitchen has some nice local food gifts like blueberry jam and gift packs.

                      Boston is tough, but for Japanese friends I've brought them teacup sets with "Boston Tea Party" tea, supposedly from the same company that supplied the colonists (this is unlikely to be historically accurate, but I liked the idea). Some people like salt water taffy.

                      EDITED to note: I just read Opinionated Chef post below and realized my ideas are repeats. Sorry about that.

                  3. Autocrat or Eclipse coffee syrup to make coffee milk. Or is that just a Rhode Island thing?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: okra

                      It's a RI thing but you can get it at a lot of supermarkets around here

                      1. re: okra

                        Coffee syrup would be my suggestion (as a MidWesterner) but it's easily purchased online.

                      2. Never saw Chourico until I went to school in MA. Not sure how common that is in MI.

                        1. I really think your best bet for the most local items in one place- is Formaggio Kitchen. Ask the store manager to take you around and show you the locally produced food items . So much to see! (A partial list is below)

                          Other thoughts on New England Regional Food Items:

                          Chocolee Chocolates, South End
                          Burdick Chocolates, Harvard Sq., Cambridge(made in N.H.)
                          EH Chocolates- Formaggio (made in Somerville)
                          Tazo Chocolates- grainy Mexican style chocolate bars
                          Kate's Butter Whole Foods
                          Vermont Creamery Butter, Fresh Mozarella, Ricotta etc.- Whole Foods
                          Lobsters- J Hook
                          Local cheeses- Whole Foods and Formaggio

                          Grocery stores (Stop n Shop best):
                          Gaspari's Chorizo and Linguica- Portuguese spiced pork sausages made in New Bedford MA.
                          (Many recipes but great in stews, soups, sauteed, grilled)
                          Smoked Seafoods-trout, scallops, etc- Duck Trap Farm, Maine- Whole Foods, some grocers

                          NON PERISHABLES:
                          Vermont Maple Syrup (Trader Joe's best price)

                          Specialty Markets (I.e. Formaggio)
                          Stone ground Cornmeal from Gray's Grist Mill in R.I.
                          Effie's Oatcakes- whole grain cookies, MA
                          Valconti's Red Gravy (marinara sauce) Hollis N.H.
                          Black Pond Aviary Honey, MA
                          Bonnie's Jams
                          Jan's Farmhouse Crisps, VT
                          Kayak Cookies -Salted oat cookies
                          Many local coffee roasters
                          Many local beers

                          Stonewall Kitchen- large line of jams, chutnies, sauces (this is a huge co.; they have their own stores in New England ; based in Maine)

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                            i would say that lobster and other shell fish and even other fish fish such as cod are native products of interest.

                            I agree on the recommendation of chocolate proeducts noted above, particularly Burdick's.

                            Besides the local butter, the read deal is cheeses and i second Formaggio which has a more interesting selection than whole foods.

                            there is also local wine, which, ala monte python, should be laid down and avoided. though the sprakling wine is ok. The beer is better, and I think that Boston is probably second only to the West Coast in interesting selections. There is also some locally produced aged whiskey.

                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                              OC, can you provide any more info about Valconti's Red Gravy? I live next to Hollis and have never heard of it. What stores have you seen it in? Would love to try this.

                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                Trader Joe's maple syrup is usually from Canada.

                                1. re: cgj

                                  And is available nationwide, I believe. If a visitor wants local/New England maple syrup, I'd check farmer's markets for local stuff or a specialty grocery store (I know Russo's sells Massachusetts maple syrup, and I'm guessing other places do too). Some standard grocery stores may also carry New England syrup, but I can't say for sure.

                                  1. re: stomachofsteel

                                    Nothing like stopping at a roadside table in Vermont out in front of a house and buying the season's Grade B maple syrup on the honor system...

                              2. What abut split-top hot dog buns? I grew up with those (CT and ME) and have never seen them since moving to the left coast. (fond childhood memories of a HoJo's hot dog with a bun grilled on both sides...)

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: kcshigekawa

                                  That is the ONLY hot dog bunl!!! The rest are pretenders!!! You simply cannot properly toast a bun that doesn't have the exposed bread sides. I even shave off a bit of the bread on the two end pieces to get this effect!

                                  1. re: devilham

                                    Amen, sis! Can't stand those breadbomb other rolls...too much bread, overpowers the filling

                                  2. re: kcshigekawa

                                    Good point! We bring our own when we vacation.

                                    1. re: macca

                                      I live in New Jersey now and search for New England hot dog buns whenever we have hot dogs. They are the best by far. I grew up in MA in case that is not obvious.

                                  3. How about soupie, a RI specialty? I bet you can find that in Boston. Or a couple of cans of that yellow French Canadian pea soup?

                                    4 Replies
                                        1. re: Allstonian



                                          But how is sopressata a RI specialty, if that's indeed what we're talking about? Maybe a unique RI word.

                                          1. re: Allstonian

                                            Native Roadilander, but not familiar with Soupie. Continuing the meat in tube form vein, maybe you meant Saugys? Definitely a unique regional hotdog: http://www.saugy.net/. I've seen them off and on through the years at Stop & Shop and Shaws as far north from RI as Framingham, but I don't recall having seen them recently.

                                        2. The vast array of flavors of Polar Seltzer is pretty unique in my opinion. Also their Orange Dry is fantastic.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: joth68

                                            You guys are the best. I have had great success on CH every time I pose a question. When I started this thread i was thinking of my childhood days when our relatives from Boston and Rhode Island would bring us the 2 coffee syrups that were mentioned. They were something that was not and still is not available in Michigan. Michiganders never heard of a coffee cabinet and coffee ice cream ( my fave ) is a fairly recent phenomenom in Michigan. Thanks to all!
                                            Sad ending to my quest. Was scheduled to fly to Boston at 0600 tommorrow, had to cancel late tonight. Wife broke her foot 10 days ago (rented wheelchair for trip). I spent this afternoon in the emergency room after slicing off the tip of my middle toe in the garden. Both our doctors advised us to cancel trip. Out about $900 airfare/car and so many delicious treats!

                                            1. re: SASSYMI2

                                              sassy, can you switch your vacation to the Fall, when we are at our most beautiful and comfortable?(101 degrees today!) Then you'd be all healed and rarin to go I'll be hopin' for you to be able to work it out.

                                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                The latest we can go is early September. My daughter is a school teacher and we babysit our 1 yr old grandaughter during the school year. We are going to try to make the trip later this summer. Thanks for your concern. Really bummed----and hungry for New England seafood and beaches!!!

                                                1. re: SASSYMI2

                                                  unfortunate. september is the best month here.

                                              2. re: joth68

                                                Polar Orange Dry is a must for this list! Really, I think one of the first sodas that used real juice (going back to the 60s). Made in Worcester.

                                                1. re: joth68

                                                  Are they the ones who also make the dry grape? Or am I thinking of schweppes? Either way it is a NE thing and totally awesome.

                                                2. Ah-So "chinese" bbq sauce. horrifyingly original.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: hyde

                                                    I just gave a bottle of this to a friend from singapore, so she can cook "real chinese food".

                                                    Although I grew up here and only discovered it in the last year.

                                                  2. Not even sure you can get them in the Boston area.......and at one time they were National, But you might want to tuck in a few rolls of NECCO wafers ( New England Confectionary Comapny). They may still even have the big sign over in Charlestown

                                                    Oh dear.......just saw your latest post......my condolences to you both. You may want to see if you can get at least a partial refund on the tickets if you have doctors orders ( Sqweak the wheel a little...at the airlines)

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                      You must be confusing NECCO with something else in Charlestown, since they were never located there. The NECCO factory was on Mass Ave near MIT in Cambridge from 1927 through 2003, and it's now located in Revere (not very far from Logan Airport). The old NECCO plant in Cambridge had a water tower on the roof painted (in 1996) to look like a roll of NECCO wafers; it now has a DNA double-helix instead, as that building is part of the Novartis research complex. NECCO is also the maker of those candy hearts with messages on them that are popular around Valentine's Day, and they now own a number of other iconic New England candy brands like Squirrel Nut Zippers.

                                                      1. re: owades

                                                        Thanks for the correction..been a number of years (decades) since I lived in Boston.,but there was some big building off of I-93 whose side was painted for some candy company.

                                                        As an aside......I used to know the owner of Sevigny's Candy.the Christmas Candy Ribbon mfr. (long since bought out).he kept his boat on Cape Cod..appropriately named..........."The Good Ship Lollipop"...He said he actually made more $$$ making "glass" for Hollywood when actors had to fall thru windows......he added something to make it taste awful so the actors wouldn't bite parts off

                                                          1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                            There used to be a big sign for Charleston Chews visible from Rt. 93.

                                                            1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                              <ya nevah know whatcha gonna read on CH! > i love your story!thx.

                                                        1. I'm assuming what you're after is traditional commercial products eg. B&M brown bread in a can. Local cheeses, pickles, jams etc are great and deserved to be celebrated, but I don't think of these farmer's market-type products as particularly local in concept - just local sourcing. You could be at a farmer's market in Ann Arbor or Brooklyn - you could be anywhere, or at least anywhere in the Northeast. Which doesn't make them not tasty, just not what I think of as local, like Old School local.

                                                          http://www.howardfoods.com/ is a local supermarket brand for relishes, piccalilli etc. Don't know if it's distributed nationally. Not particularly great, but I always keep it around.

                                                          Bell's Seasoning in the little boxes is a pretty cool local thing you can get at most grocery stores. http://www.bellsseasonings.com/about.... Good for stuffing or breakfast sausage, but I like a few boxes in a row for decoration.

                                                          Johnnycake meal from RI (white flint) eg. Grays http://www.graysgristmill.com/ and Kenyon's http://www.kenyonsgristmill.com/home..... Not that easy to find retail. (Make that nearly impossible, though you used to be able to find kenyon's fairly easily at eg. Market Basket).

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: deglazer

                                                            Glad to see a jonnycake mention here. It's one of the older New England foodstuffs you can still get, as it was originally a native food. The two Formaggios carry either Gray's or Kenyon's.


                                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                              and neptune oyster serves a johnnycake with a smoked trout torchon and maple butter!

                                                            2. re: deglazer

                                                              Bought some Howard's hot pepper relish for 4th of July hot dogs at Johnnie's Foodmaster yesterday. It is good but not great. Also got some Mister Mustard (no idea if this is a NE product, but was great on dogs), some packets of Good Season's italian dressing for dip and a box of Whisky Sour packets. It was like 4th of July from the 1980's, loved it.

                                                              1. re: deglazer

                                                                b&m brown bread in a can- EXCellent; great thinking there deglazer, For sassy>> this tastes a lot like an unspiced gingerbread- includes whole wheat and rye flours and molasses, and is steamed in the can. Neat for breakfast or thanksgiving.

                                                              2. Drakes products (like Hostess, but better)

                                                                DeAngelos Subs

                                                                Steamed clams

                                                                1. Original Hoo-Mee Chow Mein Mix, an essential ingredient for making the right kind of (not remotely Chinese) chow mein for chow mein sandwiches, a food item unique to the South Coast (Fall River -- New Bedford area).

                                                                  Nice blog piece on this peculiar dish: http://cookingwithelise.com/a-hometow...

                                                                  A photo of the box: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-LoR-mwiFckY...

                                                                  If you want to recreate it from scratch (which is weird -- you really want it from the yellow box), Emeril Lagasse, a Fall River native, offers this recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/em...


                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                    Good one, likewise for the New York System hot dog. Have you seen the Hoo-Mee mix in the yellow box locally? I used to see just the gravy mix in a bag (maybe 1#?) at Restaurant Depot in Chelsea, but they seemed to have stopped selling it.

                                                                    1. re: deglazer

                                                                      I haven't seen it in Greater Boston (you can stop by the Fall River factory). It's also sold on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Hoo-Mee-Chow-Me...


                                                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                        have heard that one can get questionable noodles if one orders online (maybe they sit too long?) supermarkets down seekonk way are reported to have them. maybe just make the blast down to fall river for fresh.

                                                                  2. Coney Island hot dogs from Eastern Massachusetts and "New York System" dogs (unique to Rhode Island) are a treat. They're typically a grilled or boiled wienie served on a soft steamed split-top bun, topped with yellow mustard, chopped onions, and "Coney sauce", a beanless beef chili with sweet spices, theorized to be of Greek-American origin. (The NY System dogs add celery salt.)

                                                                    These aren't solely found in New England: there are pockets of them scattered around the country -- WI, MI, OH, PA, NY -- but growing up here, they're something I have real nostalgia for.

                                                                    When I want to recreate these at home rather than driving to Worcester, Attleboro, Taunton, Somerset, Fall River, or Providence, I use this stuff to make Coney sauce: http://nicksconeysauce.com/


                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                      Except that bringing Coneys to Michigan is like taking coals to Newcastle.
                                                                      Coneys actually originated in Michigan!

                                                                      Though it's a great idea for people other than the original poster, from benighted, Coney Island-less places...

                                                                    2. Table Talk Pies, Worcester, MA made
                                                                      State of Maine canned yellow eye baked beans, mostly NH-Maine supermarkets
                                                                      Eclipse coffee syrup- I thought I saw it being sold in Roche Bros market, along with the Autocrat coffee syrup- my mom always got Eclipse when we were kids
                                                                      BandM Baked Beans in those glass baked bean pot replica jars

                                                                      1. Crosby's Gold Star Molasses (a Canadian firm). The gold standard for molasses, available in a variety of local chain supermarkets (Market Basket and Johnnie's Foodmaster, typically).

                                                                        13 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Karl S

                                                                          You'd think Bostonians would have an aversion to molasses after the molasses flood back in 1919.

                                                                          1. re: ferret

                                                                            Just North Enders. Besides, that molasses was , IIRC, not culinary molasses but used for distilling alcohol for the US Navy's war effort in World War I (and after the war there was a surfeit in storage).

                                                                              1. re: josephlapusata

                                                                                ♬ brown eggs are local eggs and local eggs are fresh ♬

                                                                                1. re: Luther

                                                                                  We're the one for you, New England....

                                                                                  1. re: Luther

                                                                                    I think of that jingle every time I buy white eggs!

                                                                                  2. re: josephlapusata


                                                                                    Remember........Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day!

                                                                                    1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                      Or as Jay Leno put it, decades ago when he was actually funny, "A mom in the North End calls out 'Anthony!!!!!!!!' and ONE kid turns around?"

                                                                                      1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                                        OMG! I had forgotten that! Anthony would actually be about 55 today, probably rolling along in his suped-up wheelchair. And if he went to Regina's for Pizza, he'd want it WITHOUT anchovies.........and a side of Maalox

                                                                                      2. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                        That was Aunt Mary. My aunt-in-law.

                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                          Your Aunt Mary was the one to call out Anthony?????????????? Damn!..I am glad she was your aunt and not your Mama.........and if I was your cousin, I'd have cauliflower ears from the number of times I was late for dinner!.......But GAWD was it good!


                                                                                          1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                            Yes, and she was a sweet sweet Lady so I doubt she'd have boxed you about the ears. Anthony was not her son, you know...

                                                                                    2. re: Karl S

                                                                                      I love it when you talk history to me :-}

                                                                                2. I don't think Anadama bread has been mentioned.

                                                                                  1. How about "steak tips"??????