Along with the winter holidays come hostess gifts, holiday presents for schoolteachers and long-distance care packages for friends and family. For these occasions and more, festive foods are just about perfect, but finding time to cook, bake and wrap is challenging during the busy holiday season. Two popular, family-owned food retailers specialize in holiday gifts that travel well and taste as good as they look when they arrive. Here's what's cooking this holiday season at The Swiss Colony and Pease's Candy.
"Our goal is to make seasonal entertaining and gift giving a joy," says food marketer Becky Henke of The Swiss Colony. "Exclusive recipes developed by our European master bakers and hand-decorated novelties are some of the reasons customers include us as part of their holiday traditions year after year."
The Swiss Colony offers a wide assortment of cheeses, pastries, sausage, candies and more, including several new delicacies from The Swiss Colony's bakery. Among this year's highlights are bonbon cake balls, penguin yule cake, peppermint candy bites, coconut macaroons, ancho chili cake balls, holiday mini cupcakes, Bavarian cream torte and bonbons, and chocolate snowflake cake.
Three featured treats this year are charming ganache snowman truffles ($24.95 per box), breakfast petits fours, which are layers of tender cakes filled with flavorful butter creams and jellies ($17.95 per box), and gingerboy cakes, rich, spicy, frosted cakes perfect with a cup of warm cider ($19.95 per box). Each looks too pretty to eat, but all melt in your mouth, leaving you begging for more. Or, for the crowd who likes candy without frills, consider the mini butter toffees packaged in a decorative holiday tin ($19.95).
Again this year, The Swiss Colony will donate 10,000 gingerbread houses to children staying in children's hospitals across the United States. Send the special box of 72 petits fours to someone on your gift list and The Swiss Colony will send a gingerbread house to a child in your region at no extra cost.
Visit http://www.swisscolony.com or call 800-544-9036 for a complete catalog, including sugar-free items and order information.
For more than 100 years, boxes of fresh, handmade Pease's candies and nuts have filled Christmas stockings, treated New Year's party guests, comforted homebound neighbors, thanked mail carriers and surprised friends and family across the miles. Customers return for both the candies and nuts as well as the tradition.
To this day, says co-owner Rob Flesher, "Our candies are made like they were 100 years ago, using the same recipes and, in some cases, the same equipment.
"Probably the most unique (product)," continues Flesher, "is the sweet salt coating we put on our nuts. We buy raw nuts, roast those and then add the coating near the end of the cooking process. It's unlike anything I've found anywhere else." One pound of deluxe mixed nuts (without peanuts) sells for $18.45 and features equal portions of cashews, almonds and pecans. The regular mix, with peanuts, sells for $17.45 per pound. Gift wrapping for nuts and all Pease's products is free.
One of the most popular gifts for the holidays is the 2-pound candy-and-nut box, which includes 1 pound of mixed nuts and 1 pound of assorted chocolates for $35.40. "It has something for everyone," says Flesher. "It makes a good office present and is the best choice when you don't know what someone likes or you want to give a good variety."
In addition, if you want a pound of one type of nut and a pound of one type of chocolate, the 2-pound box is easy to customize. "That's one of the things I'm most proud of; customers can get exactly what they want. Whether you want one box or 100 boxes, they can be individually packed with your favorite pieces. You don't have to get a box of assorted chocolates just because that's what's already packed."
A perennial Pease's favorite for the holidays, decorated Mint melt-a-ways are a hit for during the season. They are sold in tins and boxes, added to trays and sprinkled in assortments, but the best seller is the half-pound 15-piece box, which goes for $9.75. "They are incredibly popular. We will sell 1,500 boxes in the first three weeks of December," says Flesher, "and thousands of pounds before the holidays are over."
One of Pease's newest and most popular items is the chocolate high-heel shoe, adorned with chocolate lace. It can be decorated for any special occasion and then filled with other candies. (If you're curious, says Flesher, it's a women's size 8 1/2.)
For stocking stuffers, Pease's sells homemade double-stuffed Christmas Oreos and Lincoln logs, which are pretzel rods dipped in caramel and then dipped in chocolate (milk, white or dark).
For a look at Pease's candies, nuts and sugar-free items, visit http://www.peasescandy.com or call 888-3Peases.
Both The Swiss Colony and Pease's Candy take great care in packing boxes for shipping. Padded and double-boxed, fresh candies are shipped quickly in cold weather, but not shipped at all when there is a risk of melting. So be sure to treat yourself this holiday season when you order. Whether you open a beautiful foil box from The Swiss Colony or the familiar pink and brown Pease's gift box, you'll enjoy a treat, a tradition and a temptation to eat just one more ... or two.