This is Highly Recommend, a column dedicated to what people in the food industry are eating, drinking, and buying right now. Here, Megan Wahn shares the gift box that’s upgraded her pantry.
Online shopping is overwhelming. Sometimes, all I really want is for someone to just tell me what I might want and then deliver it to me on a silver platter. Or, in the case of HereHere Market, a shiny white box.
Launched in 2019, HereHere Market aggregates products from Chicago-based artisan food businesses. (This mission became especially important in 2020, when the pandemic forced many food suppliers to transition to selling online.) Similar to other online food marketplaces like Bokksu and The Goods Mart, HereHere Market offers snack subscription boxes as well as individual products available à la carte. But what really makes HereHere stand out is their selection of gift boxes curated around themes. They offer an AAPI creator basket, a Black-owned business box, and a female founders collection, each a streamlined way to discover new brands to support.
I ordered the “Celebrate Black-Owned Brands” gift box and, when it arrived, unpacked it immediately. As I sat in the middle of my living room, surrounded by all these new products, I felt a bit like a kid on Christmas morning. First there were the snacks—a bag of sweet and spicy Chin Chin and two flavors of Luella’s Southern popcorn, one with kernels coated in salted caramel and the other dusted with Creole cheddar. These quickly replaced my regular bag of Goldfish as my mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Then came the condiments. A jar of eye-wateringly hot (in the best way) pepper sauce from Ayo Foods was ideal paired with meat and scrambled eggs, and a Vargo Brothers Ferments mustard—tangier than Dijon—was perfect for slathering on a sandwich or pigs in a blanket.
But the real gem of the box was the Soul & Smoke BBQ spice rub. I was initially lukewarm—I live in a small Brooklyn apartment, so grilling isn’t exactly a common practice in my day-to-day life, especially in the middle of winter. Then I took a sniff. If there’s one thing I could smell for the rest of my life, it would be this barbecue rub. A blend of salt, black pepper, chili powder, onion, brown sugar, and garlic, it filled my kitchen with a sweet, smoky, spicy aroma as the chicken I had rubbed it on roasted in my oven. The pepper and chili tingled in my mouth long after I’d finished eating.
HereHere boxes gives you the satisfaction of finding new can’t-live-without-them snacks and seasonings from small businesses, minus the trial-and-error of impulse shopping. When the sad, dreary day I run out of Soul & Smoke BBQ spice rub arrives, I’ll race to HereHere to buy more—and perhaps a new themed gift box.