Highly Recommend is a column about what people in the food industry are eating, drinking, and purchasing right now. Megan Wahn shares the gift box that has improved her pantry.
Shopping online can be overwhelming. Sometimes all I want is for someone to tell me what I want and then hand it to me on a silver platter. In the case of HereHere Market, a gleaming white box.
HereHere Market, which debuted in 2019, collects products from Chicago-based artisan food businesses. (This mission will be especially important in 2020, when the pandemic will force many food suppliers to sell online.) HereHere Market, like other online food marketplaces such as Bokksu and The Goods Mart, offers snack subscription boxes as well as individual products available à la carte. But what truly distinguishes HereHere is their selection of themed gift boxes. They have an AAPI creator basket, a Black-owned business box, and a female founders collection, all of which are easy ways to find new brands to support.
Box to Honor Black-Owned Businesses
I ordered the “Celebrate Black-Owned Brands” gift box and unpacked it as soon as it arrived. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning as I sat in the middle of my living room, surrounded by all these new products. The snacks came first, a bag of sweet and spicy Chin Chin and two flavors of Luella’s Southern popcorn, one with salted caramel kernels and the other dusted with Creole cheddar. These quickly replaced my usual mid-afternoon pick-me-up, a bag of Goldfish. Then there were the condiments. Ayo Foods’ pepper sauce was eye-wateringly hot (in the best way) when paired with meat and scrambled eggs, and a Vargo Brothers Ferments mustard—tangier than Dijon—was ideal for slathering on a sandwich or pigs in a blanket.
The Soul & Smoke BBQ spice rub, however, was the box’s true gem. I was initially skeptical—I live in a small Brooklyn apartment, so grilling isn’t something I do every day, especially in the dead of winter. Then I sniffed it. If I could only smell one thing for the rest of my life, it would be this barbecue rub. It was a seasoning blend of salt, black pepper, chili powder, onion, brown sugar, and garlic that filled my kitchen with a sweet, smoky, spicy aroma as the chicken I’d rubbed it on roasted in my oven. Long after I’d finished eating, the pepper and chili tingled in my mouth.
HereHere boxes give you the satisfaction of discovering new can’t-live-without-them snacks and seasonings from small businesses, without the risk of impulse purchases. When the sad, dreary day arrives when I run out of Soul & Smoke BBQ spice rub, I’ll dash to HereHere to buy more—and possibly a new themed gift box.