Just as hearing a particular song on the radio, tasting certain foods can automatically whisk us back in time — just think of Proust and his madeleine. Little French cookies aside, what if our memories hinge on something that’s harder to get, like a dish served at a specific restaurant or some sort of regional cuisine that’s far removed from your current location?
Now, if you live if a larger city, maybe you can find reasonable facsimiles of the foods you grew up with. But what if you don’t, or the local approximations don’t measure up? That’s where the Internet comes in. If you haven’t looked lately, more and more famed regional restaurants have gotten on board with online shops and apps. It may cost a bit more to get the home delivery from across the country, but you can get another helping of those childhood food memories.
- Did you grow up in the Windy City and now find yourself missing the region’s distinctive pizza? Lou Malnati’s and Gino’s East both deliver deep dish by mail. You can also get Carson’s BBQ ribs, Maxwell Street Polish Sausage, Portillo’s Italian Beef at the Tastes of Chicago site.
- The Decatur Dairy ships serious Wisconsin cheese all over the country.
- If you hail from the City of Brotherly Love and miss your Tastykakes, Sweetzel’s Spiced Wafers and Philly Soft Pretzels, visit the Pennsylvania General Store.
- Craving the fine produce and natural foods from California? Check out Market Hall, where they also import the famed French tea, Mariage Frères.
- Hankering for some Texas Hill Country barbecue? The Salt Lick in Driftwood is just one of the many places you can go to order a rack for UPS delivery.
- Need an authentic New Orleans king cake for your office Mardi Gras party on March 4th (which is just a few weeks away), Gambino’s is just one of the many local bakeries that will FedEx you a king cake, beads and doubloons so that your good times may roll.
- Amazon even links up with specialty food importers so you can get overseas favorites like Jammie Dodgers sent your way.
Many fine old American roadside eateries are also getting into the online delivery business. Yes, you can get Stuckey’s pecan logs on the Internet these days. Like most chains, the Stuckey’s site has a store locator feature you can use to find the nearest franchise, just in case you’re feeling nostalgic enough for a roadtrip.
And if you’re heading out on the highway, hit up your App Store to see if your favorite establishment has figured out the mobile game yet. Just for starters, Waffle House has its own app for iOS and Android, as do many beloved chains like In-and-Out Burger (also with iOS and Android offerings) and White Castle, which even has a Windows Phone app to go with its iOS and Android offerings. In addition to locating the nearest store to your current location, you can peruse the menu and even check in on social media.
And if you are hitting the road to relieve a childhood food memory, be sure to order up some classic candy from your era from sites like Old Time Candy or the Candy Warehouse. Proust had his madeleines and yo, you can have your Squirrel Nut Zippers.