Makin’ groceries is a culturally New Orleanian term more often seen in Buzzfeed articles than in the vernacular of locals, but if you’re shopping for any of these local products, you have my permission to say anything you like.
Pride in local products isn’t exclusive to Louisiana. Texas has Dr. Pepper, Pennsylvania goes nuts over Yuengling, and New York drools over something called a black and white cookie. All over the country, you can find local alternatives to what’s available at Walmart. New Orleans is home to a few of those that fly a little bit under the radar, so let’s pause for a moment and chow down on some LA pre-packaged goods.
Chisesi’s Pride VIP Smoked Ham
Boar’s Head ain’t got nothing on Chisesi. The locally owned company has been providing New Orleans with various meat products for over 100 years and is best known for their ham. Available as a boneless deli cuts, ham steaks, or chunks used in stew, Chisesi’s Pride offers a variety of perfectly seasoned meats. Up your sandwich game with some Chisesi’s and don’t look back. Trust me.
Elmer’s Chee Wees
If you thought a anthropomorphic cheetah representing cheese flavored snacks was weird, then you’ll get a kick out of a rat. Yes, New Orleans’ own Chee Wees are represented by a rat in a suit, and it does a fine job representing our city. The cheese curls we know and love today were born in the early 1900s to the Elmer Candy Corporation. After a 1936 competition to name the snack and a 1946 rebranding to Elmer’s Fine Foods, our Chee Wees and the lovable rat actually predate Cheetos by a few years. Take that, nation. The best flavor is definitely green onion, but the Hot-N-Spicy comes in a close second.
Big Shot Soda
Not a lot of people know this, but Barq’s Root Beer started in New Orleans. It’s still one of the only places you can find Barq’s Red Creme Soda, and is also home to another beloved carbonated drink: Big Shot Soda. Boasting prices of 99 cents and adorned with a lovable cigar smoking mascot, Big Shots are a staple of corner store snacking. With flavors ranging from watermelon/pineapple, pineapple Blue Bayou, peach, cream, and the more traditional cola, Big Shot’s got flavors to suit anyone’s tastes. Pair one with a bag of Chee Wees and watch your arteries clog.
I don’t mean to tug on your heart strings too much with this one, but I miss them as much as the next guy. Hubig’s Pies were my favorite snacks as a kid, and are likely one of the reasons behind my love handles. Little flaky pillows filled with love. Chocolate and coonut were my favorite flavors, but apple and lemon were definitely the easiest to find and I wouldn’t complain. And you bet your ass I microwaved them for the recommended 25 seconds. Here’s to them rebuilding the factory that the fire stole from is back in 2012.
Any other local foods I’m missing? Don’t say Zapp’s or Abita, because despite being delicious, they’re a little too mainstream.