Upstate New York Gift Ideas

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A few years ago a friend asked me “What would you put into an Upstate New York State themed gift basket“. They were visiting from out of town and wanted to send a sample of Upstate New York back home to Texas. I have always loved this idea, and with the holidays right around the corner, it seems like the perfect time of the year to share a list of gifts from local producers, small batch artisans, and specialty shops to include in your own Upstate New York gift basket.

My list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of locally produced goods, so at the end of the article tell me what I missed, or your favorite locally inspired go-to gift

Hemstrought’s Half-Moon Cookies

Upstate New York’s famous half-moon cookie! The Bakery may now be closed (or not, this has been confusing for many of us) but you can still order the original recipe cookie from Hemstrought’s.

Read more about Half-Moon Cookies here

Sponge Candy

This sweet, regional confection holds a special place in  many native Western New Yorkers hearts. This Buffalo treat has been expertly crafted by longtime confectioners such as Watson’s, Fowler’s, Alethea’s, and Parkside . Inside the chocolate exterior lies a light-as-air crispy “sponge” of delicate caramelized sugar.

Apple Gift Box

New York is the second-largest apple producing state in the country. And you can ship a gift box of Upstate New York Apples to almost anywhere in the country.

Where to buy:

Taste of Upstate New York

A Taste of Upstate New York happens to be one of my favorite books on local food and history. Written by Chuck D’Imperio this books celebrates some of Upstate New York’s most beloved regional dishes, and delves into lesser known food history of our area. This book could also serve as a foodie road map for anyone wanting take a road trip and Taste Upstate New York for themselves.  Available on Amazon

Read my review of Taste Of Upstate New York here

Ribbon Candy

Ribbon candy  is not a uniquely Upstate New York confection but there are a few small candy shops locally who still produce this traditional holiday treat by hand. A labor intensive process that results in beautiful ribbons of delicate sugar candies, that are impossible to commercially produce, and that is definitely worth sharing.

Where to buy:

Read more about the Original Candy Kitchen here

Tukey Joints

Probably the most bizarre item on my list. And no, there isn’t actually any poultry involved. Turkey Joints are a candy that only resembles turkey bones. Made by Nora’s Candy Shop which is owned by the Haritatos family, who have been making the chocolate treats since 1919, and they’re still made by the same (secret) handmade process in Rome, NY.  No one knows for sure where the idea for the bone-shaped candies came from, but they’ve been a local Thanksgiving and Christmas tradition for decades.

Seneca Sea Salt

Seneca Salt begins in salt veins 500 to 2,800 feet below the surface of Seneca Lake. A brine is produced within the salt vein using lake water. The brine then undergoes an evaporation process creating the purest of all salts, a culinary flake salt.

My husband pointed out my list was heavy on the “sweets”, so  I’m adding a little salty! Seneca Sea Salt is locally harvested and sold by Keuka Lake Roasters under the brand name Seneca Salt Company. It is my favorite kitchen salt for seasoning dishes and comes in Lemon, Rosemary, Vanilla and Garlic. Perfect for the homesick Foodie on your list. 

Read my Seneca Sea Salt review here

Finger Lakes Coffee

Coffee is always a good idea. Locally roasted coffee from the Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters is sure to be a well-received gift for any coffee lover.  My favorite blend is Jamaican Me Crazy, but you can’t go wrong with the Seneca Blend, Canandaigua Blend, or Keuka Blend .

Stacked Finger Lakes beach Stone Pendants

I love these handmade pendants made with beach stones collected from the Finger Lakes.  The stones are naturally weathered, subtly colored disks with a smooth texture, combined with the bright sterling silver chain, this is a unique piece of jewelry! Available from Etsy.


New York State is home to the largest resource of tappable maple trees within the United States, and we produce some of the finest maple syrup available.  If you would like to get in on the fun, without opening your own sugar shack Adopting-a-Maple at Kettle Ridge Farm in Victor might be for you, or the perfect gift for a maple syrup enthusiast. Perks of adopting a maple include:

– Two different grades of fresh maple syrup in 375ml glass flasks (delivered in Spring 2017)

– One 8 oz bag of our famous maple granola (delivered in Spring 2017)

– One 9 oz jar of raw wildflower honey made by the bees at Kettle Ridge Farm (delivered in Summer 2017)

-and more…

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One Comment

  1. Thank You…Y’all saved me a lot of time & trouble…I am hoping to find Finger Lakes Coffee and Kettle Ridge Farm,,,I would like to include your site on my internet radio station texasradio,net