Snack and Destroy's Snack-Lover's Gift Guide 2021
Here are 29 gooey, crunchy, flavor-filled, and thoughtful gifts to give this season
Food is the perfect gift. It doesn’t get shoved to the back of the closet or left on a shelf to collect dust. It doesn’t get returned for being the wrong size or color. There’s something delicious out there to fit just about any budget, and you can send along something sweet (or savory), even if you only have a few minutes to shop.
I’m no Oprah, but for this week’s installment of Snack and Destroy, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite things — both edible and edible adjacent — in hopes of making your gift-giving a little easier this year.
Finding the right present doesn’t have to be stressful. Think about your friend or loved one, think about what they like to eat or like to cook, and build on that. You’re not just giving them food, you’re giving them the opportunity to take a break and enjoy something delicious while knowing someone was thinking of them.
Goo Goo Clusters are delicious little mounds of marshmallow, caramel, and peanuts covered in creamy milk chocolate and they were invented right here in Tennessee. They make a great stocking stuffer on their own, but if you want to really impress, splurge on the Premium Goo Goo, a giant, four-ounce version stuffed with even more good stuff.
Goo Goo has Night Before Christmas and White Christmas Goo Goos filled with peppermint ganache, crushed Oreos, and vanilla nougat for the holidays ($10), or you could customize your own ($12). You pick a milk or dark chocolate shell and then fill it with your choice of add-ins, including Nutella, peanut butter, salted caramel, Frosted Flakes, potato chips, Fruity Pebbles, almonds, pretzels, pecans, sprinkles and so much more.
Blum’s Coffe Crunch Cake from Valerie Confections in L.A. is literally the best cake I have ever eaten. A perfect chiffon cake is frosted with fluffy coffee whipped cream and decorated with chunks of coffee crunch, a crispy honeycomb-like candy. It was first created by Blum’s Bakery in San Francisco in the '50s. The bakery closed decades ago but pastry chef Valerie Gordon reverse-engineered the beloved recipe and now the cake can be shipped nationwide.
The cake arrives frozen with the candy on the side. When it’s time to eat, thaw the cake for a few hours and then, just before serving, cover it with the candy for a showstopping mid-century-dessert dream come true. Order via Goldbelly ($99, free shipping), or you can save a few (several) dollars and make it yourself — Gordon shared the recipe with Serious Eats here.
I put these marinated peppers on everything. Nachos, scrambled eggs, avocado toast, salads, pasta, pizza. They’re the ideal balance of tangy, sweet, and spicy, the leftover oil is great to add to marinades, dips, or dressings. Every snack fanatic should have a jar in their refrigerator at all times. $48 for six 12-ounce jars at mamalils.com or available by the jar ($11.59) at chefshop.com.
I am obsessed with Bon Bon Bon. Their handcrafted chocolates are edible works of art, made with both familiar and innovative flavor combos like coffee and donuts, bourbon and dark chocolate, Moscato wine caramel and pistachio, and maple caramel and butter cracker ganache.
Just look at them! Gorgeous!
The Detroit shop also sells dark chocolate records, chai-honey cassette tapes, and these super cute cans of chocolate-covered coffee beans, and all their goodies are available for shipping throughout the U.S. From $7-$91.
Store-bought cotton candy is nowhere near as good as freshly made cotton candy and freshly made cotton candy is pretty much only sold at fairs and sporting events in giant puffs bigger than the average human head. Enter Sugarolly, individually wrapped slices of fruit-flavored cotton candy ($1.99) that taste as fresh as just-made cotton candy without being, you know, only available like three times a year. Each candy round is fluffy and soft, and, unlike most other cotton candy, you can actually taste the rainbow of fruit flavors — strawberry, lemon, green apple, lime, and grape. Delightful!
I’ve had subscriptions to both SnackCrate and TokyoTreat on and off for the past few years — sometimes it’s a gift, sometimes it’s a splurge for myself in the name of research — and I love them both. SnackCrate is fun for folks who want to try food from around the world, as each month features snacks from a different country. If you have a big KitKat fan in your life, go with TokyoTreat. Their monthly premium box always features a new, hard-to-find-in-the-United-States flavor.
More Favorite Treats to Eat:
Gummy candy or licorice mixes from Swedish candy store Sockerbit
Tony’s Chocolonely chocolate bars
Imported Doritos from Desert Drinks & Exotics
Every issue of Cherry Bombe celebrates women in the food and drink industry and almost all of the magazine’s past issues are still available for purchase. Their current issue, with Drew Barrymore and Pilar Valdez on the cover, is all about cookbooks — love a good cookbook — and you can still grab their coveted The Julia Child issue from this summer. Or go for the issue with Salt Fat Acid Heat author Samin Nosrat on the cover. You can never go wrong with Samin Nosrat.
Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
I already wrote a bit about why I love Michelle Zauner’s memoir Crying in H Mart in the very first installment of Snack and Destroy. This is just your reminder to buy it for yourself and everyone you love. Related: Zauner’s band Japanese Breakfast was just nominated for a Grammy! Neat!
Black Food by Bryant Terry
Last week I mentioned how much I love Bryant Terry’s vegan cookbook Vegetable Kingdom. Terry’s newest, Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora, is on my personal wishlist. This book features vegan, vegetarian, and meat-based recipes from Black chefs from around the world including Crispy Cassava Skillet Cakes by Yewande Komolafe, Lace Hoecakes by Charles Hunter III (he’s from Nashville!), Fresh Peach Cobbler with Nutmeg Sauce by Edna Lewis, and Cocoa-Orange Fish by Nicole Taylor. Speaking of books, look for Taylor’s Juneteenth cookbook Watermelon and Red Birds soon!
More Favorite Cookbooks:
Chicano Eats: Recipes from My Mexican-American Kitchen by Esteban Castillo
Milk Bar: All About Cake by Christina Tosi
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
Tiny Food Party by Jenny Park and Teri Lyn Fisher
A Nice Board for Cheese or Charcuterie
It’s a fact that snacks taste better when served on a board and Food52’s shop has several options that fit a wide range of budgets, from an Acacia Wood Slice Serving board for $25 to a small but cute Recycled Glass Dome & Cheese Board for $70 to a Walnut Cutting Board that doubles as a food board for $175.
Want to spend a little more because you’re rich and/or don’t give a shit about your credit because we’ll all be dead soon anyway? Get that cheese lover on your list a temperature-controlled cheese grotto for $390. CHEESE GROTTO!!!!!
I spent years saying chip clips didn’t make a difference, that I was fine using a hair tie or a paper clip or folding the bag over and making it stay closed with wishful thinking. Now, older and wiser, I can admit I love chip clips. I need chip clips. They come in tons of cute designs so you can cater them to your giftees’ interests – dogs, monsters, ladybugs that look kind of angry for some reason. Even literal chips. Don’t want more shit in your drawers? Get the magnetic ones that hang on the fridge until needed. A must-have for anyone who respects their snacks enough to not let them get stale.
Until I got one of my own, I assumed cookie scoops were for pros. Do you know how much easier it is to bake cookies with a cookie scoop? Just scoop and plop and scoop and plop and all the cookies are the same size so they bake evenly and look perfect!
I also use mine — a medium-sized scoop from OXO ($15.99) — to get cupcake batter into the tins without dripping it everywhere and have even used it as a mini ice cream scoop because mini ice cream sundaes are fun sometimes.
Soup & Sandwich Plates
I don’t know why I love this plate/bowl combo so much. It’s a plate and it’s a bowl. It’s not complicated. But my husband and I were given a set of these BIA Cordon Bleu Soup & Sandwich Plates for Christmas years ago and I have loved them ever since. The bowl doesn’t slip around when carried across the room (especially helpful when a 30-pound beagle is jumping up and trying to get a taste of what’s for dinner) and they’re great for so much more than just soup and sandwiches. Veggies and dip! Chili and cornbread! Cake and ice cream! Quiche and a side salad because yes I am very fancy! They are A+ snack vessels. $35 for two at everythingkitchens.com.
A bath tray? On a food-themed gift list? YES! Because anyone who has precariously balanced bowls of chips and salsa on the edge of a tub knows a bath is made better with snacks but a bathtub is not a snack-friendly environment. Splashing water! Slippery surfaces! Snacks can be ruined in an instant! A bath tray solves that problem and saves the snacks. I have a tray similar to this one ($39.99) and it has everything I need and more, with space to hold a drink, a snack, and my laptop so I can soak, eat cheese, and watch the Roy family come undone. Ultimate luxury.
These Piecework Puzzles look like what would happen if David LaChapelle became a food photographer — bread, cake, vintage party food, and a full hot pot meal are photographed in vivid, saturated color. They come in a variety of sizes, and the 1,000-piece puzzles are $38.
Le Puzz has some great food-related puzzies, too — nope, not going to call them puzzies anymore, sorry about that, I was just trying it out — including this gorgeous fruit display ($28), and there are also several food-related options at Puzzle Warehouse, including colorful collages of snack cakes, candy, vegetables, and vintage cereal boxes (starting at $19.99).
Full of Grace Snack Cat
One of my favorite designs from the very wonderful Stay at Home Club is the Full of Grace cat, a snack-loving kitty that got overwhelmed by a bag of chips. Little buddy just wanted to get the last few crumbs, no shame. Anyone who loves chips has been there. The design is available as a T-shirt, print, woven blanket, patch, and more, starting at $7.
One of my favorite gifts to give last year was a custom ornament from Monines Faeries on Etsy. She has tons of cute food-themed ornaments — ramen, pad Thai, macaroni and cheese, and a big ol’ sub sandwich — and she was able to customize a bowl of pho to look just like a mini version of my husband’s order at Than Bros (Pho Chay with extra tofu).
Pretty much any food you can think of has been turned into a tree ornament by someone somewhere — a Brussels sprout, a Little Debbie’s Christmas Tree Cake, a bottle of ranch dressing, a deviled egg — and I particularly love the one that looks just like a stick of butter. Butter forever.
He invented the Cronut, he makes one of the best Kouign-Amann’s I’ve ever eaten, and now he’s sharing all his French pastry secrets via a MasterClass online tutorial. Maybe if your friend gets really good at making Cronuts, they’ll bring you some. So really it’s a gift for you, too. See MasterClass gift subscription pricing here.
OK, self-promotion time. Did you know Substack has gift subscriptions? That means you can give the gift of Snack and Destroy! It’s just $6 a month or $60 a year and I promise I will do my best to keep your giftee entertained with impressive snack content that will make you look like the kind of person who gives super cool, smart, and thoughtful presents.