well, december is here. and that means that jerks like me who didn’t celebrate xmas shopping in july (and certainly didn’t sign up for any sort of xmas club) are all like “OH SHIT, i didn’t do any xmas shopping, and now i have no money and no time!” it’s last minute time folks, and the solution is simple- BUY LOCAL. we talked a little bit about it on plaid friday, but along with supporting/growing the local economy, shopping local has some additional benefits worth considering:
1. no exorbitant shipping rates. how many times have i filled my online shopping cart full of amazing discount goodies, only to find out that shipping will cost more than the merchandise. so not worth it. BOO!
2. no stress about things shipping on time. i spent last xmas tussling with an amazon.com call center employee over a lost package that didn’t make it on time and RUINED XMAS. ok, not really ruined, but gifts lose a little bit of their potency when not given on the appropriate day. if you bought local, you wouldn’t have to worry about the shame of lost potency EVER AGAIN. plus, you can do all your shopping on xmas eve.
3. everyone buys the same crap at amazon.com, and frankly, you’re better than that. screw the big label mass market consumer goods this year, and get your friends and fams something that they can’t get anywhere else but here. state pride doesn’t have to come in the form of a black bears sweatshirt (although it certainly could if you’re into that sort of thing), and there are tons of great local shops, companies and artisans hovering all around you just waiting to sell you the perfect gift.
anyway, this month i’ll be spotlighting some of my favorite local businesses where one can purchase thoughtful, exciting, and original merchandise at the very last possible moment, and never have to pay for shipping. today’s focus is on my very favorite food of all time- POPCORN. fabulous flavored popcorn is a great xmas hostess gift, inexpensive gift for co-workers, stocking stuffer, or treat to put out at your holiday shindig (i’m over you potato chips!). or, if i’m on your xmas list- a garbage bag sized sack will do just fine. coincidentally, maine is packed full of gourmet/boutique popcorn poppers- and they know their shit. here are my favorites:
1. coastal maine popcorn: with a new store front on exchange st. positioned dangerously close to my home & office, these guys have wacky flavors SEWN UP. i’m a huge fan of their southwest cheddar, buffalo wing, and toffee (often mixed together), but seasonal flavors like butter rum and egg nog look awesome, and i’m dying to try some of their newer creations from the basement lab like wasabi soy and blue cheese!
2. the kettle boys: i first stumbled across these guys on a trip to york beach last summer (they also have a store in kennebunkport), and i’m still having erotic popcorn fantasies about it. as a savory popcorn fan, they have an incredible assortment of unusual cheese flavors from honey mustard cheddar to cheddarpeno, as well as some classic caramel, chocolate, and kettle corns for the sweet toothers (peanut butter cup?!). however, the mother of them all (in my expert popcorn opinion), is their CHICAGO BLISS. orange cheddar corn heavily covered in caramel is one of the best things i have ever eaten in my whole life- NO FOOLIN. also, if you’re looking for a companion receptacle, they carry this most amazing popcorn bowl.
3. kernel bob’s kettle corn: an officemate of mine used to live next door to kernel bob back in the day, and every xmas he would leave a bag of this incredible kettle corn on everyone’s desk (thanks again steve!). i am not a sweet popcorn person at all, but this kettle corn is the perfect blend of sweet and salty in a way that makes in nearly impossible not to stick my head inside the bag and eat my way out (but that would be undignified and unsafe, right?). they only make one flavor, but they only need to make one because it’s perfect.
4. little lad’s popcorn: with their super stripped down packaging, and weirdly militant website, little lad’s doesn’t exactly scream XMAS CHEER! that is, until you open the bag. portland pssst claims that it’s just nutritional yeast and dill, but i think there’s some magic in there too. it’s the weirdest, wrongest, best tasting thing ever, and it will take exactly 3 bites (one for you to realize that it tastes like herbal dirt and give the nose wrinkle, one for you to give herbal dirt a second chance, and one for you to realize that you can’t live without herbal dirt and eat the whole bag) to fall in love forever.