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US foods not available in the UK

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Oct 22nd, 2011, 12:34 PM
  #1
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US foods not available in the UK

I was in the uk this summer and could not find graham crackers or graham flour. No one in my UK family ever heard of them! so this year, i thought for the holidays i would like to send them some graham crackers and some other foods that we have here in the US that may not be available in the UK. if i remember correctly, they were also saying that chocolate (like Mars and Hershey brands) are different in the US. I would love any and all suggestions! Thank you! I will also post on the US forum.
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 12:45 PM
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Please don't send any Hershey's over, with all the wonderful chocolate we have in the UK, the only possible use I can see for that stuff, is making candles!
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 12:56 PM
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ok Hooameye. but what CAN i send that would be appreicated since you don't need any candles...
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 01:03 PM
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Like Hooameye, my British friends universally loathe American chocolate bars. It is too dark, too waxy, and not sweet enough. They must expire when they get near 72%-80% continental chocolate bars!

Digestive biscuits are close-ish in flavor to graham crackers, but the meal is much more coarsely milled than graham flour so the texture is more crumbly.

My daughter can keep track of this, but I think their Mars bar is the same as our Snickers and on and on. In Scotland, they Mars bars battered and deep fried in the fat where they fry the chips, but then again they also like deep fried frozen pizzas. You might get them a range of Mars products so they can have a Mars comparison test the way people do with wine.

If they have been to the States, they may like maple syrup or blueberry syrup, and cranberry products are very popular with our visitors, though they can get the cranberries themselves at home. Milk chocolate coated cranberries go over very well.
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 01:05 PM
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Just because something isn't available in a country doesn't mean those people want it. The UK is a modern country, if there was a big clamor for graham flour, they would have it. Often thing don't exist in a country because the people living there don't use it or like it. I cannot recall the last time I myself ever bought or used graham flour (maybe 20 years ago, not sure), and I'm an American. I would think it totally bizarre if someone gave me some flour I didn't use or want for a gift. I think while you have good intentions, you shouldn't give anyone some odd food product unless they have specifically mentioned actually wanting it.

Hershey's is not superior chocolate, you must know that. It is cheap supermarket and drugstore products, and they have such things in Europe, Hershey's or otherwise. And I think you've been very misinformed about Hershey's brands not being available in Europe, they are quite common. I don't know what they told you about chocolate, maybe saying they thought there was a taste difference in the recipes used in Europe or US, who knows. Sometimes that is true and sometimes people think it is and it isn't. In any case, that wouldn't mean they would want the US version of some US brand.

If they have mentioned really wanting something they can't get there, then send it, otherwise, I think your attitude is elitist and assumes those poor Europeans don't have tghe superior brands of products and that you must send them something out of charity as if it were WWII or something.

As I said, I know you mean well, but don't automatically assume they want cheap US junk food or weird products like graham flour.
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 01:11 PM
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like Christina says, if there is something from the US that will sell, eg Maple Syrup, we already have it.

It's understandable to think that the things that you miss when you are away the locals would like too, but it ain't necessarily so.
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 01:13 PM
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Mars bars were invented in Britain, and are the same the world over, as are most Mars products, so don't send them!
I love Maple Syrup - but not every Brit likes it, and it is expensive to send, especially if your family don't like it.

If there are children in the family then send baseball/football t-shirts or hats for the kids.
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 01:23 PM
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I know you are well- intentioned but unless your UK family has made a request for something specific, I would not bother.

Someone mentioned maple syrup and Ocean Spray products, but both are readily available in the UK, not sure about fresh cranberries. I suspect you may not be able to ship fresh fruit to the UK although cranberries probably would stay fresh.

A UK friend used to request Reese's Pieces but these probably are now sold on the UK.

I really can't think of any US food product that would be highly valued by people in he UK. Maybe something like Maker's Mark bourbon, but it can't practically be shipped due to shipping costs and restrictions, duty, etc.

Bundles for Britain no longer needed.
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 01:39 PM
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Perhaps something local to your area rather than national brands. In my area, ollaieberries are really popular, but almost unheard of elsewhere - we do syrup, jam, and other stuff made with ollalies. That makes a fun gift.
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 02:27 PM
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Local booze always goes down well as long as it is not some peculiar wine made out of left footed scorpians
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 02:34 PM
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You've asked a "newbie" question about which many Fodor's posters long ago took an ideological position -- and by the way, British chocolate is awful.

I'm tempted to say: Just bring them some decent food! But instead I'm going to say: Why don't you communicate with them beforehand about an experiment in sharing traditional foods, and see what they might be curious about --- instead of asking Fodor's posters? Tell them you've heard Cadbury's is better than Hershey's, tell them you'd like to pack some Kisses and also maybe some M&Ms to go head-to-head with Smarties. (Personally, I think m&ms are much better than Smarties.) Ask if they would like to taste some S'mores so long as you are willing to eat suet pudding.

I think cornbread is fantastic, and even more fantastic with british butter. Why don't you slip a bottle of Maker's Mark into your check on and make bourbon ice cream with chopped pralines on top?

Anyway, if a British friend brought me Jaffa cakes, Fentiman's Ginger Beer, lemon curd and kippers, it wouldn't matter to me that I didn't like them as much as my own country's foods or that I could find them where I lived. To me, they'd be bringing more of themselves and their culture to share with me. I wouldn't feel put down.
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 03:56 PM
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I'm with Zeppole - I don't think a discussion like this hurts. No-one wants to arrive empty-handed and so much the better to bring something that is unique from your home environment. And I quite enjoy reading about what individual people think is suitable. While I don't think I'd want some flour as a present myself, or not without a recipe to guide me how to use it, I'd never be offended. It's not rude to want to share what you have at home with others!

And I'm not in the UK, but I think there are some interesting cake mixes that come out of the US that might make an intriguing present. When we lived in Germany (years ago now) brownies were unobtainable at that time and I even bought a brownie cake mix from the imported foods section in a department store in Frankfurt. OK, so brownies are not so special in England (and I think from recent visits, brownies are more available in Germany too), but there must be other similar products that would be a turn-on.

Lavandula
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 04:14 PM
  #14
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YIKES. little did i realize that my post would be interpreted as elitist, that is as far from my intentions as apparently a hershey bar is from a cadbury. personally, i am always open to new ideas and experiences, including foods and i figured my uk family would be too. so if you took offense, i apologize. but if anyone out there who could still maybe offer a suggestion in response to my post, i would really appreciate it, in a very sincere and non elitist way.
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 05:03 PM
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As a CDN living in the UK these are the things I miss and dont want to spend a fortune on:

- cinnamon gum (My Brit friends think this is disgusting)
- N. American peanut butter (again - not liked by my Brit friend as it is too sugary)
- Stash Licorice Spice Tea (not considered real tea by my Brit friends)

N. American chocolate is allowed to include WAY more wax than British and so the people that grew up here in the UK generally dont like the taste of it. To be honest, neither do I now that I have had European chocolate

I would bring/send something local to you or something you can use to cook them something different (they dont have pumpkin pie here so maybe something like canned pumpkin?)
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 06:56 PM
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I think your question was perfectly reasonable. There are definitely foods from the US that aren't widely available in the UK, just as there are UK foods not widely available here. Creme Fraiche isn't exactly like sour cream; the ubiquitous-in-UK Heinz Salad Cream doesn't quite match anything I can think of here; my amazement at the range of UK products with blackcurrant flavoring is matched by my British friends' amazement at the range of cinnamon-flavored products in the US. I also have vivid memories of the difficulty of trying to buy unsweetened baking chocolate and canned pumpkin in England in the eighties.

Many people do enjoy trying 'something different'. However, many of the examples I can think of are (like your graham flour example) ingredients used in cooking, rather than finished products. I don't think they'd make good gifts by themselves unless you know that the recipients are avid cooks -- in which case, they'd be *great* gifts. If you sent ingredients, I'd also send recipes, and make sure that you modify them using UK measurements for volume/weight and oven settings (conversation info widely available online)). I've repeatedly taken fixings for cornbread to the UK with me and prepared it there for friends, but I don't think I'd send cornbread mix unaccompanied by a cook!

I've thought of taking high-quality real maple syrup over, but it's awfully heavy, and would be costly to ship.

I have taken people boxes of herbal teas, focusing on flavors that are particularly 'American' (Bigelow's Apple Cider flavor, for instance, or some of the more unusual Celestial Seasonings blends). It's not that herbal teas as a group are unavailable in the UK, it's just that they'll be different. I always go to the grocery store over there and stock up on various Twinings herbal blends. By the way, 'tisane' is the more common name in the UK for what Americans call 'herbal tea.'

A trip down the seasonings aisle of your grocery store could be fun. I always enjoy trying out oddball seasoning items, and I can use them in my own style of cooking. I'd bet your UK family hasn't encountered Old Bay Seasoning before, for instance.
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 07:06 PM
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Where do you live? Is there a particular food that is made in your state that would be appreciated by your UK family? When we were last in Wales we took with us a box of goodies made only locally here in Colorado, including things like blue corn tortilla chips, several different salsas, jars of peach jam and applesauce that come from our fruit growers in the southern part of our state. It all traveled well and they really enjoyed it. Make it more of a treat to share something of your state, rather than assuming they would want crappy American chocolate.
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 07:24 PM
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When my MIL visits from London (kind of rare these days since she will no longer fly) she tries to bring a few things home from here in the States that she can't find there.

Over the years, some of her favorites have been Stove Top Stuffing(never quite understood that one), Bisquick, Jiffy corn muffin mix, Lipton or Knorrs Onion Soup mixes.

As others have said, don't send any chocolate. They're probably just being polite by saying ours (US )is "different" and already know they won't like it.

Here's a site that will give you an idea of the types of US products not easily found in the UK.

http://www.skyco.uk.com/
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Oct 23rd, 2011, 01:40 AM
  #19
 
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For me as a UK resident, a guest bearing any form of chile is very welcome - fresh, dried, powdered, tinned, ristras - but I used to live in the States, so this might not be universal.

There must be some type of artisanal candy near you like maple sugar or cactus candy, anything but choocolate. We have fabulous chocolate here, even in my tiny Lincolnshire village.
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Oct 23rd, 2011, 03:10 AM
  #20
 
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I'm an American who has been living in London for nearly 4 years. I've got a long list of items that either don't exist over here or are available at extortionate prices (http://www.partridges.co.uk). Whole Foods offers a decent selection of spices, etc., but not always the most convenient place to get to from my flat. Don't jump down my throat for some of the processed foods, trust me I'm normally quite a foodie so forgive me for my ranch dressing sins.

Without further ado, items not easily found in the UK:
Pam cooking spray
Crystal lite or any other type of low calorie drink mix
Microwave popcorn (the one kind at Waitrose isn't very good)
Molasses
Crescent rolls (Thanksgiving!)
Turkey sausage
Turkey bacon
Crackers (Triscuits, Wheat Thins)
Buttermilk
Good salsa
Chipotle powder
Low fat ranch dressing (ducks)
Good maple syrup
Certain cuts of steak (flank steak, skirt steak)
Good tortilla chips (Doritos are used recklessly in this country)
Non-alcoholic apple cider
Canned pumpkin
North American peanut butter
West coast wines

I think the biggest adjustment for an American is the lack of variety (for better and for worse) in stores. At the big suburban grocery stores near my parents house, and actually, at the sh*t Gristedes near my old flat in NYC there was simply more varieties and flavours of everything.
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