Wisconsin/Madison specialty foods that travel well?
I live near Boston but have a friend in Madison, WI. She started sending me Kodiak Kakes flapjack mix for my birthday when she lived in Alaska, and can get it in Madison too. She asked me if there were any midwest specialties that I'd like her to include. I have no idea what sort of non-perishable foods are available in Madison but not New England. I do not care for smoked foods, or very spicy ones, and am vigilant about limiting sodium. My ancestry is northern European so I grew up meat-and-potatoes but I have branched out and enjoy most cuisines. I love onions (all alliums, really), fruits, and sweet&sour things.
Can anyone suggest things I might like that can withstand 3-4 days in the mail?
There are a lot of great foods made in Madison, but I'm not sure how many of them are unique to Madison. One locally made product I like is Potters Crackers. The flavors change seasonally. Also, you can get hickory nuts here. I think they are grown in the East, too, but I never saw them for sale until I lived in Madison. I like Cress Springs Farm bread, as they use "old" grains, like spelt and kamut. Last, some jam makers do unusual berries, like loganberry. All of these items can be gotten at the farmer's market.
One item you can't get at the market is Smoky Jon's BBQ sauce. He consistently wins awards for it.
Kringle is made elsewhere is Wisconsin, but tasty and easy to get at a grocery store.
Other than that, I can think of a lot of good food that's made locally, but you can probably get similar items in Boston too, like Madison Sourdough company bread, RP pasta, and Wienke's pickles.
Shipping alcohol is illegal, but if your friend visits, there are many spirits, wines, and beers that she could bring. New Glarus beers are quite sought after by people outside Wisconsin. However, there are locally made sodas such as Sprechers, and I like Wisco Pop's Ginger Ale.
Smoked meats from New Glarus. Smoked cheeses from Monroe, Carr Valley 6 year cheddar as well as goat and sheep and mixed cheeses. Marieke gouda as well as many I have had in the Netherlands.
There is a butcher west of Madison that does wonderful things with smoked sausages. I can drive there, but I can't remember the name. Local help please.
As I said in the OP, I don't much like smoked foods. A hint of smoke in meat goes a long way as far as I am concerned. In cheese, it's a dealbreaker. I'd hate to have her go to the trouble of buying and mailing sausage that turned out to be too salty or smoky for me, but thanks for the thought.
Sorry, my bad. The non-smoked sausages have to be shipped frozen and on dry ice. Overnights will work. Many of the sausages are very lightly smoked.
My sister who has lived in Wisconsin for over 30 years agrees with you. She states that all smoked cheeses taste like burnt plastic.
Fromagination, Brennan's and the farmers markets would be great places to browse for ideas. Also the Mustard Museum!
Maybe some creative preserves or dried fruit, especially cherries? Chocolates might be OK in the mail, and Gail Ambrosius, David Bacco, Christine's Toffee and Candinas are just a few of the good ones.
If ginseng root is your thing, Wisconsin's is world-renowned & Community Pharmacy sells it in bulk.