Last weekend my sidekick, “the Percolater,” and I were looking for gifts for out-of-town family members. We’ve never been to their house, don’t know much about their hobbies, and were stuck in a parking lot trying to decide what to do when the idea hit us — ORIGINAL CARLSBAD OBLATENS, made right here in Minnesota! Who wouldn’t like the delicate, sweet, wafer-cookies? Plus, they come in award-winning packaging. They’re easy to find in most grocery stores so we popped in and bought all six flavors. Then back at home we got online and printed out the company’s history that began with a Czechoslovakian couple who immigrated to Minnesota in the 1940s and brought with them their cherished oblaten baking irons. A little history combined with something tasty makes for a thoughtful gift.
Any of these made-in-Minnesota products will create a connection between you and your home state and your loved ones. Include a favorite recipe or anecdote for power-gifting. Happy holidays!
Afton residents, Bill and Lana Scanlan, have won more than 60 awards in 25 national barbeque contests. Their Wee Willy’s World Champion Barbecue Sauce won the prestigious Jack Daniel’s World Championship. Easy-to-mail dry marinades or one of their popular grilling sauces are sure to please. Available at most grocery stores. Visit weewillys.com for recipes.
Drew’s Caramel Corn
My first handful of this not-too-sweet caramel corn was at a Governor’s Residence garden party. Yum —It should be the state’s official caramel corn! Drew quit his job in customer service to make popcorn in small batches using his grandfather’s original recipe. Good career move. Available in Lunds and Byerly’s stores and at U of M events.
You know it’s close to Christmas when green and red boxes of Nut Goodies are piled high by cash registers. Made in St. Paul since 1912, this milk chocolate bar with nuts and a creamy maple center is a perennial favorite and is now available in a collector’s tin! For your designer friends, print out historic package designs at the Wrapper Gallery, pearsonscandy.com.
Old Dutch Potato Chips
The size of a two-bag box of Old Dutch potato chips is easy to wrap and looks impressive under the tree. Perc says he never met a chip he didn’t like, so when my sister gave him a box last year he laughed, then promptly ripped open a bag. Who can resist them? When you’re done, prop up the empty box to enjoy an idyllic windmill scene illustration by revered Minnesota wildlife artist Les Kouba. Really — go ahead and Google it! It’s like giving a fine art print too. You can tell them I said so.
Wayzata Bay Spice Company
All natural, no MSG and made in Minnesota. We like the Gone Fishin’ mix but they have a hundred more. Try Holy Cow Hamburger Seasoning, Fire & Spice, Northwoods Mushroom Seasoning, or Ole & Lena (salt and pepper!). Available at the Kitchen Window or wbspice.com.
Abdallah Candies Factory Store
My Great Aunt Evelyn loved Abdallah’s Downtowner chocolate sampler. Her hand would hover over the chocolate covered caramels, pecan topped vanilla creams, butter almond toffees, and cherry cordials while I admired the cover’s lovely New Yorker-style illustration of a horse and carriage below the Minneapolis skyline. In business since 1909, Abdallah’s candies are sold everywhere, but you can buy direct at the Burnsville factory store and watch cherries being dipped into vats of milk chocolate. Pick your own assortments or choose one of the many boxed varieties. Christmas ribbon candy, peppermint sprinkles, hot chocolate mixes, and lots of fun gift items and toys round out the large store. 3501 West County Road 42, Burnsville. Hours: Mon.–Fri,. 10 a.m.–6:30 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Check abdallahcandies.com for extended holiday hours.
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