Several destination markets in the Miami Valley and southwestern Ohio say their unique selection of Ohio-based food products are the specialized gifts shoppers are looking for this season.
Both Jungle Jim’s locations, in Fairfield and the new one at Eastgate, and Dorothy Lane Market locations just south of Dayton and in Springboro have large selections of hometown foods that can be purchased individually or as gift baskets, both in stores and online.
Jim Beckett, specialty foods manager at Jungle Jim’s who has been with the company for five years says Ohio-based food products are popular year-round, but especially during the holidays.
Tom Winter, vice president of marketing for Dorothy Lane Market, agrees. He has been with the company 45 years.
“Once you’ve grown up with these items, you miss them. It’s a craving,” Winter said. “Sons and daughters will mail baskets to parents who no longer live in Ohio and miss their favorite foods.”
There are three Ohio gift baskets that can be ordered from the Dorothy Lane website ranging from $55 to $105.
Here are 10 food items made in Ohio that are included in some of the stores’ food baskets or that Beckett and Winter say are popular this time of year.
There are several Ohio companies that specialize in chocolate in Ohio, but none are as celebrated as Dayton’s Esther Price. The company produces around one million boxes of candy a year, so finding one of those trademark gold boxes for a gift won’t be too difficult. A tin of four DLM famous Killer Brownie brownies would also please the chocolate lover in your life. Each rich, gooey brownie is made from scratch and weighs in at nearly 1/3 of a pound.
Ohio has the second highest number of potato chip manufacturers in the country, right behind Pennsylvania. And folks in Ohio are partial to the chips they grew up with — Shearer’s (Cleveland and Akron), Ballreich’s (Toledo), Conn’s (central Ohio), Jones’ (north central Ohio), Mikesell’s (Dayton) and Grippo’s (Cincinnati). If you’re looking to go one step beyond this salty snack, then Esther Price has partnered with Mikesell’s to create a chocolate-covered potato chip box that makes for a tasty, memorable gift.
For another salty snack that’s sure to impress, the gift tins from Tipp City’s Trophy Nut are a good place to start. Winter also recommends Jump’s Almonized Peanuts, which are included in the Ohio-themed Dorothy Lane gift baskets.
Both Beckett and Winter say that Montgomery Inn barbecue sauce is a popular Ohio gift basket item. Beckett included La Rosa’s Pasta Sauces on his list, while Winter had Mamma DiSalvo’s Sauce as a suggestion. Urbana’s Robert Rothchild Farm also has a number of sauces and spreads that make good gifts.
5. Salad dressing
For those looking to create a full gift basket, including some Ohio-made salad dressing may be worth while. Garlic Expressions salad dressing out of Perrysburg or a jar of Dayton’s famous Pine Club House Dressing may be just the thing.
Ohioans love their chili. In Cincinnati alone, the Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates that residents consume more than two million pounds of chili each year, topped by 850,000 pounds of shredded cheddar cheese. Skyline Chili and Gold Star Chili are probably the two most recognized names, but chili parlors like Camp Washington Chili and Dixie Chili are sprinkled all over the state — especially concentrated in southwestern Ohio. Cans of Skyline Chili are sold in most stores and can be ordered on its website and shipped anywhere. Or if your loved one is in town, then a gift certificate works.
7. Ice cream
Since 1870 Graeter’s has been the ice cream of choice in Cincinnati. Seasonal flavors cinnamon, peppermint and egg nog are all available for purchase in Graeter’s locations or on their website to ship as well as all of their signiture flavors they have become famous for. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, a newer company out of Columbus, also makes for a unique gift item with seasonal flavors such as Pumpkin 5 -Spice, Boozy Egg Nog, Cranberry Royale Sorbet and Sweet Potato with Torched Marshmallows.
There are plenty of Ohio-made wines with more than 150 licensed wineries in the state. There are also many Ohio breweries making great beers — too many to list — that you could purchase a gift from. Two ideas among many include giving a bottle of Buckeye Vodka or a six-pack of the ever-popular Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co., which is spiced with honey, cinnamon and fresh ginger.
Local coffee houses are a good spot to purchase unusual flavors of coffee beans. Dayton’s Boston Stoker, for example, sells many different kinds of coffee blends online and in stores. It makes for a good addition to a gift basket going to a caffeine lover.
10. Egg nog
This wasn’t on the list from either Beckett or Winter, but an Ohio egg nog is a conversation starter. Hartzler Family Dairy in Wooster makes an egg nog like you’ve probably never had. It’s the real deal, and a bottle of that paired with a bottle of bourbon makes for an unforgettable gift for the man in your life that’s hard to buy for.
Do you have Ohio-based gift ideas that weren’t included in this story? E-mail contributing writer Alexis Larsen at firstname.lastname@example.org and we might include them in future coverage.
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