Classic local foods for a taste of RI

There is a lot to be said in favor of giving the gift of food.

First, it can be nostalgic, bringing back memories of days at the beach or family dinners. Second, it’s a great opportunity to shop locally. Third, it’s a pretty affordable gift. Fourth, it’s something you can give with some certainty that the recipient will actually use. And fifth, it doesn’t take up much space in people’s homes.

If any of these sound appealing, we’ve rounded up some Rhode Island food gift ideas. Try putting a few together in a Rhode Island gift basket or use them as gifts for family, friends, coworkers, or anyone else on your list. Heck, some of them would even make great stocks.

Add a little salt

The literal taste of Narragansett Bay, Newport Sea Salt is hand-harvested from the waters of Brenton Reef, along Ocean Drive in Newport. The salts are harvested by veteran Matthew Mullins, who came up with the idea for Newport Sea Salt after falling in love with Italian finishing salts while stationed in Naples. When he returned and needed a new supplier, he found the fast-moving, shellfish-rich water off the rocky coast of Aquinek Island to be the perfect place to start making his own. Newport Sea Salt sells pure, rosemary and thyme, butcher’s mix, fire salt, and Bella Napoli salt. For gifting purposes, we recommend the $39 build-your-own 3-pack, which comes in a gift-ready box. Bonus, a portion of the sale goes to Save the Bay.

Bring Olneyville New York System Wiener Sauce home

The special sauce that tops the Olneyville New York System has been a secret since 1946. But there’s a way to make this Rhode Island favorite at home. For just $5.50, buy the spice mix and follow the recipe on the package, with your choice of wiener, to make the classic Ocean State dish at home. It’s not quite the same atmosphere as a restaurant, but it’s the next best thing.

Treat yourself to some coffee with milk

While Autocrat Coffee Syrup is the standard (and only $15 on Amazon for 32 ounces), for a gift we might recommend going for a slightly more premium version. Dave’s Original Rhode Island Coffee Milk Syrup is a premium product. Made from specialty quality Brazilian coffee roasted in their Narragansett bakery, it’s cold brewed then simmered with cane sugar and cassava root in a thick amber syrup. That’s $12.75 for 16 oz. bottle.

Bring back the taste of summer

For the person in your life who always wants to go to Del’s, gift them some of the packages so they can make it at home. Available in lemon, watermelon, blueberry and lemon tea. A bonus of making them at home is that you can use them to make a cocktail if you’re looking for something a little extra. For a gift, we tend to go for the classic lemon flavor. Get a pack of 8 on Del’s website for $15.

Give the gift of old-fashioned comfort with Johnny Cakes

Johnny cakes are a beloved Rhode Island tradition, and while they may be associated with a May Day breakfast, you can eat them any day of the year. For the truest Johnny Cake, the best option by far is Kenyon’s Milled White Corn Flour, which is Rhode Island’s oldest operating manufacturing business. A one-pound box costs $6.90 on the Keyon’s Grist Mill website.

Give them the whole Narragansett experience

It would be hard to pick just one item from Iggy’s – how do you choose between clam cakes, pasta and their fish chips? – so we won’t. They’ve put together the mixes for all three dishes in their $20 Gansett Kit. It even includes clams.

Sweeten their food with Aquidneck Island honey

The gift of honey has meant many things over the centuries. It is used to celebrate peace, as a symbol of abundance, as a way to wish for good health, happiness and long life. Plus, local honey—like the sea salt above—brings some of the region to the flavor. For a local option, we like Newport-based Aquidneck Honey. On their website, you can order a gift box of three 1/2 lb. jars for $30.

Spice things up with some Rhode Island Red Hot Sauce

Add some spice to their lives with Rhode Island Red Hot Sauce. The sauce will add some heat without overpowering your food, and is one of those condiments that people will reach for again. A 5 oz bottle costs $5 at

If you are a Rhode Island business that would like to be considered for future gift guides, email Katie Landeck at kla[email protected] with a little information about what you sell.

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