Iconic Mid-Atlantic Foods You Can Ship to a Friend Right Now
The best way to a person’s heart is through their stomach.
There are certainly food experiences you just can’t replicate -- like hot, gooey Cheez-Whiz dripping down your fingers while inhaling a late-night cheesesteak on South Street or the crack of an Old Bay-encrusted claw during a Chesapeake Bay crab feast. Luckily, thanks to wholesale companies and intrepid restaurants, you can send your loved ones the next best thing.
Whether you’ve got a friend or family member who is seriously missing home or you simply want to show off the regional delicacies in Pennsylvania, Maryland, DC, Delaware, and Virginia, look no further. From crab cakes and cheesesteaks to oysters and scrapple, here are 10 iconic Mid-Atlantic food items that you can ship to a special someone right now.
Doesn’t get much more Mid-Atlantic than a broiled crab cake filled with lump and backfin meat. And while you can find good versions all throughout the region, the ones being hand-packed by Nancy Faidley-Devine and her team inside Lexington Market are the genuine article. Packaged in insulated, refrigerated cartons, these 6.5-ounce crab cakes arrive fresh and it’s best to call in your order at least 24 hours prior to your desired ship date. The website points out that, because these are so perishable, the company’s “octogenarian, curmudgeon” matriarch will not ship surprises. Isn’t that exactly the type of person you want making your crab cake?
Cost: $15.95 each + shipping
This West Philly outpost earns respect as one of the less touristy spots to get a cheesesteak in Philly. Jim’s makes its sandwiches with top round instead of rib-eye, finely chopping it and mixing it with caramelized onions and whatever your preferred cheese choice. But if you’re really shipping a cheesesteak across the country, we imagine you’re going with Cheez Whiz. Each package includes four 12-inch cheesesteaks and serves 4-6 people, depending on how hungry your crew is.
Ideally, we’d love to be sitting by the ocean on Chincoteague Island enjoying the freshest oysters possible. But that’s not a reality for everyone, and luckily you can get a taste of the salty Atlantic Ocean shipped right to your door. Rappahannock River Oysters, based in Toppings, Virginia -- with locations in Richmond, DC, and Charleston -- has become renowned for its sweet river oysters and briny olde salts, imparting dichotomous flavors from either side of the island. Get 100 of your choice shipped to you, clean them, soak in a salt mixture, and chill before serving. A little lemon, mignonette, and horseradish-filled cocktail sauce doesn’t hurt, either.
When someone asks why you’re craving “just a hot dog,” it’s clear they’re not from DC. An institution since 1958, Ben’s Chili Bowl is as intrinsically linked to DC as the Lincoln Memorial. The narrow U Street building features an exterior mural of prominent African-American figures who have dined there, reminding patrons that Ben’s is a cultural touchstone in the Civil Rights movement and overall DC experience. But if you can’t be there in person, get an original chili half-smoke kit shipped to you, which includes 16 half-smokes (or beef and pork sausages) and two pints of the famous thin and spicy chili sauce. You’ll have to add your own mustard and chopped onions to complete the dish.
Sure, I suppose no matter where you are in the country, you can plop some French fries on a sandwich and pretend you’re in the Strip District. But if you want the real, colossal, towering Pittsberger sandwich, you can have it shipped right to your door. Just like in actual Primanti Bros. locations, you’ve got plenty of options: order yours with turkey, corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, or genoa salami. But why not get a combo pack, with two pastrami and two capicola (spicy Italian ham) shipped your way for the ultimate feast.
The idea of the Smith Island Cake seems simply enough, but it really is an art form. Originating on the currently uninhabited Chesapeake Bay island, the cake features nine super-thin layers of yellow cake sectioned off by rich, homemade fudge frosting. The “larger” version of the cake is about nine inches in diameter and serves about 16 people, depending on your appetite. As the official state dessert of Maryland (yes, that’s a thing), the cake is practically synonymous with summers spent on the Eastern Shore.
Cost: $60 + shipping
As lovely as the ambiance is at Chap’s Pit Beef -- which shares a parking lot with a strip club off busy route 40 -- it’s nice to know the stand ships everywhere else in the country, too. Legend has it that in 1987 Gus Glava gave his daughter and son-in-law, Donna and Bob, a 12-foot-by-15-foot pit beef shack as a wedding gift. And the rest is history. The closest thing Baltimore comes to “barbecue,” this roast beef is prepared over a charcoal fire, sliced thin, and topped with a horseradish mayo called Tiger Sauce, BBQ sauce, onions, and pickles -- all served on a potato roll. The kit comes with two pounds of sliced beef, eight potato buns, and all the fixins, serving about eight people.
Scrapple is, putting it mildly, an acquired taste. Brought over by the Pennsylvania Dutch, it’s traditionally a mush of pork scraps and trimmings combined with buckwheat and cornmeal flour and spices. It’s dirt brown and fried until crispy outside and mushy inside. I know, doesn't sound appetizing. But once you try it as a breakfast side, accompanying eggs and toast, you might sing a different tune. Delaware’s Habbersett company has been slinging scrapple since 1863, using high-quality pork stock and scraps, and a ton of salt and spices. Order four packs of its original scrapple, with each pack serving three people. Just trust us on this one.
There is perhaps no more characteristically Mid-Atlantic snack than Utz chips. Made in a Hanover, Pennsylvania factory since 1921, the chips come in flavors for pretty much all occasions. Need something crispy on the side of a BLT? Go plain. Really into acidity when it comes to snacking? Go salt and vinegar. Need a bold and smoky option when you have people over? Go barbecue. But the best way to feel instantly transported to the Chesapeake Bay region is to bite down on the salty, spicy, paprika-laden crab chip.
Cost: $25.74+ for six bags
If Virginia was a sandwich, it would be thinly sliced country ham on a buttery biscuit. What’s so special about a ham sandwich, you ask? Well this is way beyond what you’re getting at the deli counter. Edwards Virginia Smokehouse hand-rubs each of its hams with salt, brown sugar, and black pepper and then hickory-smokes and ages it for a minimum of 90 days. The result is a rich, intensely salty flavor that just tastes like the South. The “petite” three-pound ham comes pre-cooked, and can feed approximately 20 people. Simply carve with a sharp knife and serve.
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