Sep 18, 2023
Michigan gift ideas: Baskets, kits, products to buy for Christmas
If there's a food lover on your holiday gift list, our mighty mitten state has
If there's a food lover on your holiday gift list, our mighty mitten state has plenty of tasty offerings.
Welcome to our annual guide of specialty items that hail from Michigan. Sending a gift of food is a great way to showcase what Michigan has to offer or give out-of-state family members a taste of home.
From upstate to downstate, there are plenty of specialty food items, from coneys to handcrafted fine chocolates to addictive toffee. Michigan companies stand ready to ship their goodies anywhere.
More:Olga's Kitchen has new kits to make favorites at home
Many of the items are handcrafted in small batches and source local ingredients. Some of the companies on this list focus on sustainability or in the spirit of supporting their communities.
More:Blitzen's on Bagley festive holiday pop-up bar now open daily
Many of the items on this curated list of culinary delights showcase Michigan's diverse and rich agriculture offerings, especially with homegrown fruits, that get the local stamp of approval.
From maple syrups to sweets, there's something for everyone.
If you love toffee, Dave's Sweet Tooth toffee is a local favorite and addictive. Want to sweeten up bacon? Iron Fish Distillery's bourbon, barrel-aged maple syrup is delicious drizzled over bacon just before you take it out of the pan.
And hailing from Charlevoix is Mike's Mustard. Its original, sweet and tangy creamy mustard is a favorite for a variety of uses, from dipping pretzels to slathering on chicken and using it as a spread or in sauces. Mike Washburne started out selling Mike's Mustard in 2004. He created the recipe based on his mother's (a former food editor for the Petoskey News-Review) and one of his own.
Keep in mind that many places will have cutoff dates to order in time for the holidays — especially those with highly perishable items. Also, keep an eye on shipping. Some places waive shipping with a minimum spend, while others charge a flat rate and some include shipping in the price. More recently, Lehto's Pasty in St. Ignace announced a flat $5 ground shipping for up to a dozen pasties.
This 70-plus-year-old Redford establishment specializes in Scottish fare, including meats, savory meat pies and sweets. Its scones are made daily. One dozen of a variety of Ackroyd's scones costs $18. Its Afternoon Tea Kit features a dozen fresh-baked scones, imported jam, loose-leaf tea, and clotted cream for $43.99. When the pandemic hit, the owners closed the retail shop and pivoted to selling online and curbside pickup only. They’ve moved operations to 25137 Plymouth Road in Redford. Current curbside pickup is 11 a.m.-4 pm. Thursday through Friday. During Christmas week, Ackroyd's is adding Wednesday to curbside pickup.
Order: 313-532-1181 or ackroydsbakery.com
Fresh cherry pies with tart cherries and a unique crumb topping are how the Grand Traverse Pie Co. got its start more than 25 years ago. Founded in Traverse City by Mike and Denise Busley, its pie line now includes more than 25 fruit flavors and mini or whole savory chicken pot pies. Cherry Crumb made with tart Montmorency cherries is the company's top-selling pie. Other varieties from blueberry to apple to berry have either a crumb topping or are a double crust pie.
Cherry Crumb pie is $36.99 each plus shipping. You can ship two pies together for no additional shipping charge.
Order: 866-444-7437 or gtpie.com
A landmark in downtown Detroit on Lafayette Boulevard for more than 100 years, American Coney Island sells its famed coney on Goldbelly or at the restaurant. Grace Keros, co-owner of American Coney Island, began putting together Coney Kits for school fundraisers more than a decade ago. A kit comes with 12 Dearborn Sausage brand hot dogs and buns, a sweet onion, a container of chili from Detroit Chili, and an American Coney Island paper hat. The cost is $79.95 and includes shipping. Order through Goldbelly, or get it at the restaurant for $50.
Order: 888-675-6892 or americanconeyisland.com
Celebrating its 40th year, this northern Michigan company makes many of its products with Michigan-grown fruit, including fruit butter, preserves, marmalades, salsas, relishes, sauces, condiments, and much more. Its Holiday Jam Box ($58) is a best-seller and features three of its preserves and one available only during the holidays. Its Classic Pancake Breakfast Box ($60) is a collection of pancake essentials, including wheat and malt pancake mix, fruit perfect blueberries, fruit-perfect sour cherries, and maple syrup.
Order: 888-735-6700 or spoon.com
Celebrating 92 years in business, this iconic Detroit company is still family-owned. Its snacks consist of its famous chips in a variety of flavors and other snack foods including caramel and cheese popcorn. Around the holidays, for a limited time, Better Made offers 7-ounce tins of its addictive, wavy chips covered in milk or dark chocolate.
Order: 313-925-4774 or bettermade.com
BliS stands for "Because Life is Short" and chef Steve Stallard is behind this line of handcrafted, bourbon barrel-aged sauces, vinegars, maple syrup and soy sauce based in Grand Rapids. There are also spice rubs and wild-caught domestic roes. Stallard first began producing flavored domestic roes and bourbon barrel maple syrup and the line grew from there. A popular gift item is the summer grilling bundle featuring their Blast Hot Sauce, Steak Sauce, Soy Sauce, and Santa Fe Spice Rub for $42.
At 212 Kingsley St., in an unassuming brick building in Ann Arbor's Kerrytown district, you'll find Durham's Tracklements and Smokery. Since 1996, it's been the spot where owner T.R. Durham cures and then cold (lox-style) and hot smokes salmon in a variety of flavors. The business is known for its classic highland, gravlax and other seasoned cures, such as Thai cured salmon, in limited quantities. Its basic package is $85, according to its website, and includes 1½ pounds of cold-smoked salmon that's vacuum-packed. It's shipped UPS 2nd Day Air. You can place orders at [email protected]
Order: 734-930-6642 or [email protected]
This Traverse City brand began more than 25 years ago. Here every product, from mustards to preserves to salsas and more, is made in small batches of 240 or fewer. Every label includes a number indicating how jars were in that batch. Its flagship product was Timothy's Wild Blueberry Merlot Preserve, now sold as Michigan Blueberry Merlot Preserve, and the line great from there. Other unique flavor pairings are blueberry lavender, apricot chardonnay and blackberry shiraz. Ingredients for what they make, when available, are sourced locally.
Order: 888-935-2748, foodforthought.net
This tasting room for olive oil and balsamic vinegar got its start in 2008 opening a spot in Traverse City. Over the years, it has added locations in Ann Arbor, Holland and Petoskey. For the holidays, Fustini's offers "Taste of Michigan" gift sets that can be purchased in person or ordered online. A four-pack features three kinds of vinegar infused with Michigan fruits and Basil Crush olive oil in a customized gift box. It's available in three sizes. A four-pack of 60-milliliter bottles is $35.
This craft distillery is on a 120-acre farm in Thompsonville along the Betsie River. Along with its barrel-finished whiskies and other spirits, it offers bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup. The maple sap comes from the five-generation Griner Family Sugar Bushes. There are two varieties in 375-milliliter bottles. The original is $24. An Iron Fish Breakfast kit is $70 and includes a bottle of bourbon barrel-aged syrup, whiskey barrel-aged honey, Wee Bee Jammin local jam, and pancake and waffle mix from Modern Bird in Traverse City. This ships in an Iron Fish Distillery gift box.
This Marquette pasty shop was lauded in Food and Wine Magazine's "Best Mail Order Food Gifts from Every State" in 2020. Lawry's Pasty Shop first opened its doors in 1946, according to its website. Its pasties are shipped nationwide to most of the U.S., frozen with dry ice. An eight-pack of Lawry's original beef pasty (12 ounces each) is $77.43.
Order: 906-226-5040 or lawryspasties.com
Specializing in handmade raclette cheese and Fromage blanc using local milk, this longtime Suttons Bay cheese business is now operated by Gary Smith and Joshua Hall. Leelanau Cheese was founded in 1995 by noted food artisans and award-winning cheesemakers John and Anne Hoyt. In 2021, the Hoyt's sold the business. You can buy its mild or aged raclette cheese starting at $17 per pound. Also, offered are several gift boxes. Its Sweet and Savory gift box is $64.50 and pairs jam and salty cheese. There are three raclette varieties (1/2 pound each of traditional mild, rosemary and aged) and three locally sourced fruit preserves. Its Fromage blanc ($13 for two 8-ounce containers) is available in herb, garlic, black truffle, and peppercorn varieties.
Order: 231-271-2600 or leelanaucheese.com
This St. Ignace pasty shop was founded in 1947 by John Lehto. It's still in the Lehto family and is now operated by Lehto's niece, Laurie, and her husband, Bill Walker. Lehto's ships their beef, chicken, and vegetable pasties that include potato, onion and rutabaga — a hallmark of a true pasty — in the filling. Pasties are shipped after Labor Day and through Memorial Day. The cost is $8.50 each plus tax and shipping. Ground shipping is $5.
Order: 906-984-2144 or lehtospasties.com
This sweet, tangy, and creamy mustard based in Charlevoix is terrific as a dip (especially with pretzels), slathered on a sandwich, or used in cooking. Mustards are $6 for a 6½-ounce jar or $11 for a 16-ounce jar. Other varieties are creamy lemon dill, creamy jalapeno, creamy barbecue, and creamy cherry mustard. Gift box sets are available.
Order: 231-547-0585 or mikesmustard.com
One of metro Detroit's largest coney chains, National Coney Island has been around for nearly 60 years. Its coney kits contain 12 natural-casing hot dogs, 12 buns, National's homemade chili, fresh whole onion, and mustard. The cost is $34.99 plus shipping. Also available for shipping separately are its chili and hot dog value packs.
Order: 888-442-6639 or nationalconeyisland.com
You can choose from a selection of Pinconning mild to sharp cheddar cheeses, some of which have been aged more than a dozen years. Prices are by the pound and vary. Pinconning Cheese is also noted for its custom-made cheese spread, jerky, smoked fish and pickled items. A wooden cheese gift box includes seven varieties of cheese and a Pinconning cheese spread for $54.99.
Order: 800-678-1962 or pinconningcheese.com.
At this Ellsworth farm, the specialty is its preserves, butter, and toppings using Michigan-grown ingredients. The products are packed in a keepsake Michigan white cedar box produced in the family's wood shop. Gift boxes have a choice of silk-screened Michigan-themed scene on the cover. Gift boxes range $35-$90. Also produces charcuterie boards made from black walnut.
Order: 231-599-2251 or rockytopfarms.com
Individual handmade pasties come in meat, vegetable, and breakfast varieties and are shipped fully cooked and frozen from this Calumet company. Its 2022 packages of pasties, according to its website, are: Four-pack $45; six-pack, $57; a dozen, $93; two dozen pasties are $168. Each traditional pasty weighs about 14 ounces. Check the online calendar for available shipping dates.
Order: 877-727-8911 or www.pasty.com.
Zingerman's in Ann Arbor is not only well known for its beloved deli and specialty food offerings but its community of businesses from the bakery to the creamery. And its mail-order operation has offerings for all. Zingerman's even ships a kit with all the ingredients to make its famed Reuben sandwich. The kit includes Jewish rye sliced corn beef, cut Emmentaler Swiss cheese, Zingerman's potato chips, coleslaw, sauerkraut, Russian dressing, garlicky pickles and Magic Brownie Bites. A kit serving three or four people is $150. Zingerman's is also known for its sour cream coffee cake. Its large "Fresser" (9-inch) cake is $65 and comes in a gift box or $75 in a wooden crate. The company also has an assortment of gift packages and boxes.
Order: 888-636-8162 or zingermans.com
Get ready for melt-in-your-mouth toffee available in several varieties from the Harrison Township company. Andrew Chmielewski formed Dave's Sweet Tooth based on a father's, Dave Chmielewski, a retired Detroit firefighter, toffee recipe years ago. Its newest products are maple bourbon pecan toffee in 4-ounce pouches and 2-ounce snack bags. There's also a bundle of five, mini jars that are 8 ounces each. The bundle includes milk chocolate, dark chocolate, dark chocolate cherry, peanut butter crunch and coffee.
Fine artisan chocolate confections have been made at this bright-green shop on a stretch of M-22 that's just minutes from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Empire. Its Sweet Surprise Gift Box is $36 and includes a six-piece truffle/honey caramel gift box, smoked sea salt bark and a signature Grocer's Daughter Chocolate Wally or Dianne bar — choice of milk chocolate or dark chocolate. The Chocolate Lover's Gift Box $95) includes 16 truffles and honey caramels, 6 pieces of smoked sea salt honey caramel, a Wally Bar, a Very Berry Bar, Chocolate Covered Almonds and Sea Salt Bark.
Order: 231-326-3030 or grocersdaughter.com
The famed Mackinac Island fudge shop, known for its handcrafted fudge, brittle, toffee and caramel since 1887, is back making fresh fudge for the holiday season and its holiday gift sets. Its fudge available for shipping includes 10 varieties, along with four varieties of peanut brittle. New this season is its maple bourbon pecan fudge, handcrafted using Iron Fish Distillery's popular bourbon. Its best-seller, the signature five-slice box ($57.95), includes its five most popular fudge flavors: chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, peanut butter, turtle and double chocolate caramel sea salt. The slices are packed in an artisan box featuring a colorful painted scene of Mackinac Island.
Order: 906-847-3530 or originalmurdicksfudge.com
This iconic Mackinac Island Fudge Shop got its start in 1936 on Detroit's east side. In 1960 the operation moved to the island. Here, handcrafted fudge in 21 flavors and other sweets are offered. Its Best of Mackinac Island Sampler ($49.95) features caramel corn, peanut brittle, saltwater taffy, and two, half-pound slices of Ryba's fudge.
Order: 800-447-9227 or ryba.com
Sanders Candy, metro Detroit's iconic confectioner in Clinton Township, offers a variety of sweets for the holidays. Its best of Sanders gift box is $78.99 and includes many of its best-selling confections tucked in a gift box. The gift box contains two variations of Sanders' famous chocolate sea salt caramels, milk chocolate pecan clusters, milk chocolate thins, dairy-free dark chocolate caramels and its peanut butter blocks.
Powered by Detroit Food Academy, participating students are learning the ins and outs of making and selling food. For the holiday, they've put together gift boxes called Small Batch Big Change Gourmet. The selection of gift boxes from Detroit include ones with all-natural nutritious snack bars in five flavors called Mitten Bites and locally produced jams and jellies from Slow Jams. There's also a gift box with both products. Each purchase helps support employment and career opportunities for DFA high school students and alumni. Gift boxes range from $22.95-$75.95. The wood crate box featuring 10 Mitten Bites bars and three jars of Slow Jams is $75.95.
Founder A.J. O'Neil blends his coffees with selections from Highland Park's Becharas Brothers Coffee Roasters. Many of the coffee blends have Detroit-related names such as Woodward Avenue, 8 Mile Baseline and Detroit 1701 French Roast. A Crossroads gift box features a pound each of 8 Mile Baseline and Woodward Avenue and a Detroit Bold coffee mug. It's $52.99 but is currently listed at $44.99 on the company's website.
Order: 248-277-2640 or detroitboldcoffee.com
Higher Grounds Coffee in Traverse City roasts organic fair-trade coffee sourced from small-scale farmers around the world. The company was founded by Chris Treter who began sourcing and still does, his coffee beans from the Maya Vinic cooperative in Chiapas, Mexico. A sampler box gift box includes 6 ounces each of its three coffee blends for $24. Its Tres Estrellas Comsa Women Trio is $55 and features blends from three women farmers in Honduras.
Order: 231-922-9009 or highergroundstrading.com
This Glen Arbor-based coffee roasting company has been roasting beans in small batches for nearly 30 years. A variety of holiday coffee gift packages are available. There's the Red, White & Blue gift set ($65) that features two 1/2 pounds of Leelanau coffee, 1 pound of pancake mix (classic or gluten-free), 8 ounces of local maple syrup, cherry jam and a half-pound of Michigan dried blueberries. The Leelanau Jam Session ($69) and features a choice of 3 pounds of coffee, Cherry Jam from Cherry Republic, and Honey Creme from Sleeping Bear Farms.
Order: 800-424-5282 or leelanaucoffee.com
Contact Detroit Free Press food writer Susan Selasky and send food and restaurant news to: [email protected]. Follow @SusanMariecooks on Twitter.
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