Given the restrictions of the year, many of us will be sticking close to home this Independence Day. And where some may see inconvenience, others see opportunity.
Our local food and product landscapes are both wide and vast. Many of us are choosing to avoid crowds and hang with friends in the socially distant comfort of our own backyards. Local food producers and markets make it easy to celebrate our nation’s start with…and forgive the reference… a bang.
Being local is, for the moment, hip. However, do not be deceived by the “I’m Local” labels found at mega marts. These behemoth vistas are cathedrals to the mass and out of area produced.
Shopping at one of our local markets is easy, but it has deep and impactful benefits on our local economy. When it comes to spending, our local markets give you much greater…and forgive the reference…bang for your buck.
We promise that will be the last reference to fireworks. We also promise that keeping this 4th of July local will be the most patriotic thing you can do. So check out our market guide to all of the great local options and see below for our 20 picks of great local products to help make this 4th of July both a national and a local celebration.
See you around the area!
Top 20 Local Products
- Tony Packo’s Pickles and Hot Dog Sauce: The iconic Packo’s has much to offer as a restaurant and now have expanded into a more fast food/drive-through business. Even if you don’t much care for their dogs, there is much to admire about their array of pickles, hot dog sauce, ketchup, and hot dog relish. And don’t just think that the spicy pickles and peppers are your only choice. Packo’s has a great selection of other pickled products. You can find their products at the restaurants, of course, plus most local markets throughout the area.
- Dei Fratelli Tomato Products: Made right in Northwood, Dei Fratelli is known from canned tomatoes and sauces of course. Most people miss the fact that they also make a salsa and a pizza sauce (check out the “smoked” pizza sauce). So, if trying your hand at pizza on the grill or just needing some chips and salsa for a BBQ, you can’t go wrong with Dei Fratelli.
- Sauder’s Market Potato Salad: All local markets have potato salad on in the deli section. However, there is something about Sauder’s that makes it a standout. First, it isn’t sweet, like so many commercial products are. Second, it has the right blend of mayo and mustard. Finally, it is nestled in the deli department of a great local market. We recommend that you double the amount you plan on buying. It will get eaten.
- Sofo’s Pasta, Olives, Meats and Cheeses: Sure, we think of Sofo’s as a great place to get pizza, pasta ingredients, and of course cannoli and other bakery items. However, there is no reason to default to boring pasta shapes like elbow for your pasta salad. Plus, Sofo’s is stocked full of great things to put into your vinaigrette inspired pasta salad, like varied salamis, cheeses, jarred peppers and pickles. Salad, meat and cheese trays, or just a plate full of cold pickles for a picnic, Sofo’s has you covered. Don’t forget to check out their wine selection.
- Rudy’s Hot Dog Sauce: Rudy’s is around a century old and they have been putting sauce on top of dogs since Calvin Coolidge was president. Besides the multiple locations across the city, their sauce is available at markets across the region and well worth adding to your Independence Day cookout.
- Stanley’s Kielbasa: We know, most people think of Stanley’s around New Years’ day or Easter (and a close third would be Christmas). However, you have to try it on the grill. Or, if that doesn’t work, pick up our current favorite, their smoked kielbasa. Then all you have to do is touch up the tubular goodness on the grill, get some Sauder’s potato salad, get some fruit and grab some Smith’s or Toft’s ice cream and you have a quick party.
- Zavotski’s Marinated Chicken: Every meat department now has marinated chicken products and they all have merit (as an Honorable Mention check out any House of Meats locations for their marinated chicken as well). However, Zavotski’s also makes marinated chicken patties, which make them easy to grill and put on a bun. If you have one of those indoor grills these chicken patties are the best in that format. A bit of a healthy oasis in a holiday known for unhealthy indulgences.
- Toft’s Ice Creams: If you’re missing the Mudhens you can at least have some Toft’s, marginally famous for sponsoring the “Stike Out Player of the Game”. Great ice cream produced out of Sandusky OH.
- Gertie’s Premium BBQ Sauces: A great local BBQ sauce with three flavors (regular, spicy, and smokey). A Toledo staple since 1984.
- Walt Churchill’s Market Smokehouse Meats: There are almost too many products to talk about from WCM’s smokehouse. If nothing else they have a wide selection of chicken brats and sausages that are worth picking up for the more health-conscious. If you are looking for simple snack trays, try their summer sausage and braunschweiger.
- Maumee Bay Brewing Company: One of the more iconic local breweries, what can be more Independence Day than an ice-cold beer. And nothing is more supportive than buying local. Maumee Bay beers offer the best of both concepts.
- Chateau Tebeau Wines: Located in Helena, Chateau Tebeau is a full working winery with a decent selection of summer crisp wines. Like all smaller wineries, you will need to check with them directly for selection. A visit to the winery is worth the day trip all by itself, as they have a respectable bistro menu on site. You can also check their website as to the retail outlets that carry their selections.
- Majestic Oak Wines and Neon Groundhog Brewery: Fortunately, northwest Ohio is not lacking for breweries or wineries. Located just north of Grand Rapids, Majestic Oak is another local working winery and has recently expanded into brewing. A good selection of sweet and semi-sweet to be served crisp and cold. They also have a wide selection of IPA and lager beers. However, they do brew in small batches so check directly for availability.
- Toledo Spirits Company: Although light wines and cold beers are all the rave for July 4th, smart and snappy cocktails should be on the menu. Sure, you can spike some lemonade or you can take a look at the excellent selection of craft-made spirits from Toledo Spirits Company and craft a special drink for our country’s independence. Let your inner mixmaster run wild.
- Locally Roasted Coffees: Immediately following July 4th celebration comes the morning of July 5th, and that means coffee. We are blessed with rich and robust coffee culture and some great local roasters that are sold throughout the region. Check out Actual Coffee, Almost Human Coffee, Maddie and Belle’s, Iron Bean, Georgette’s, and Grounds for Thought, all roasted here in Northwest Ohio.
- Local Salad Dressings: At first we thought we would just list one of the locally famous salad dressings. Then we realized that there are easily three sold throughout the area. Forget about Kraft! Go local with Betty’s Dressing, Grumpy’s Poppyseed Dressing, and the incomparable Garlic Expressions. GE can do double duty as it is an excellent marinade as well.
- Ballreich’s Potato Chips: Chips and dip are great at a BBQ or picnic. Why not go local? Ballreich’s Chips are made in Fremont Ohio.
- Bellville Brothers Meat Market Burgers and Steaks: There are great butchers throughout the region. However, Bellevue in Bowling Green has top-notch steaks and burgers. If you are turning the evening into a special dinner among friends, the high quality of Bellevue is worth the drive.
- Great Black Swamp Brewing Company: The third brewer on our list. Like Neon Groundhog and Maumee Bay, GBSBC is another great option for going local. We recommend the Bay Front Pale Ale, which is light and citrusy.
- The Guac Shop: Sold at markets throughout the area, The Guac Shop has 4 different flavors of outstanding guacamole. A local area company they distribute to several markets across the area, including Kazmaiers and WCM.