March Madness Watch Party Essentials Round 2

basketball fans

March Madness 2014 is at its midpoint and the action has been fantastic!  As the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight and Final Four draw near, it is time to game plan on what to serve or bring to your next party.  Whether you are hosting or visiting a March Madness watch party, you know having great tasting snack foods is essential.  Here is where Figi’s come in; let our 70 years of experience helping people celebrate special events and holidays make you an MVP.  Even if you are not into March Madness yourself, chances are, you have a friend or relative that is; surprise them with one our snack gifts delivered.  

In our first March Madness Watch Party Essentials post, we scouted some great snack ideas from Figi’s.  Today’s post will add additional snack ideas and a recipe for you to try.  Also feel free to vote in our championship poll below; who do you think will win it all this year…Arizona, Michigan State, Louisville…or another team?

Savory Sixteen Meat Cheese Sampler from FigisSavory Sixteen Meat and Cheese Assortment: Get the crackers ready!  Snack-sized cuts of assorted favorite Wisconsin cheese and sausages combine for a delicious lineup for your party. We have included Summer, Mettwurst, Steakhouse, Pizza, and Garlic flavored sausages with Wisconsin Cheeses including Cheddar, Colby, Brick, Onion, Bacon, and Salami flavored.  Please check out our other Cheese and Meat assortments here.

Chocolate Covered Pretzels from FigisChocolate Covered Pretzels: We haven’t had many sweets in our snack recommendations thus far, so here’s tried and true veteran you can count on to satisfy a sweet tooth.  We take salted golden pretzel twists and sweeten the deal by coating them in milk chocolate and white creme coatings. Half of these yummy treats are then coated with colorful candy sprinkles.  Figi’s has two chocolate covered gift sizes available to help with any sized gathering. Check out more wonderful Chocolate Covered Gifts from Figi’s here.

Bagel Chips and Cheese Spreads from FigisBagel Chips & Creamy Country® Cheese Spreads: We have teamed up our famous best-selling Figi’s Creamy Country® Cheese Spreads with toasted bagel chips for the ultimate snack!  You and your watch party guests will savor light and crispy New York Style® Traditional Bagel Chips topped with our Creamy Country® Cheese Spread trio of  Cheddar, Cheddar with Bacon, and Nacho Jalapeno flavors. Our cheese spreads are also great for dipping veggies, spreading on sandwiches and crackers and so much more!

Tempting Twosomes from FigisTempting Twosomes Meat and Cheese Assortment:  Figi’s has put together another great combination for your March Madness watch party! We’ve included two of our savory Smokehouse Beef Sausages with two of our finest Wisconsin Cheese: Cheddar and Colby.  But that’s not all – we added two of our delicious Kave Kure® Cheese Logs.  Our Swiss log is coated with with almonds and our Cheddar log is coated with pecans and almonds.

Chocolate Nut Teasers from FigisChocolate Nut Teasers Snack Mix:  Here is another sweet and savory best-selling snack mix from Figi’s.  This gift includes everyone’s favorite nuts – made even better by being enrobed in rich chocolate!  Check out this starting roster: Milk Chocolate Peanuts, Mocha Almonds, Cashews, Pecans, Dark Chocolate Almonds, plus Milk and Dark Chocolate ‘All Nut’ Mix.  Just open this tin and let the snacking begin!

And there you have it: more great snack ideas for watching the rest of March Madness 2014 or sending to your favorite fans.  For other great snack ideas, be sure to view our entire assortment of snack gifts here.

As promised, here is a quick and easy recipe I found from Marzetti. Give it a try and let us know how you liked it in the comments field below.  Do you have a game time recipe you would like to share with our readers? Please do so in the comments field below.

grilled potato skins

Recipe: Grilled Potatoes with Tomatoes and Scallions

Grilled Potato Skins with Tomatoes and Scallions
Grilled Potato Skins with Tomatoes and Scallions

Ingredients:
Marzetti Classic Ranch Dressing
Large raw potatoes
Shredded Cheddar cheese
Chopped tomatoes
Chopped scallions
Chopped parsley
Preparation:
Bake several large potatoes until they are tender when pierced with a knife. Allow them to cool. Cut the potatoes in half and scoop out most of the cooked potato (save this for another use). Cut each potato half into 4 pieces. Arrange the potato wedges on a tray. Fill each piece with shredded cheddar cheese. Prepare a grill pan or a grill to medium heat. Brush the pan or the grill grates with oil. Transfer the wedges to the pan and grill until the cheese melts and the bottom of the potatoes are marked. Remove from grill and top with chopped tomatoes, scallions and parsley. Drizzle a generous amount of Marzetti Classic Ranch Dressing over the potato wedges and serve.

Readers Poll: Who Will Win March Madness 2014?

 

As always, thanks for reading Gourmet Market. Connect with Figi’s on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ to learn more about our products, service and promotions.

 

 

 

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Take it Personally: Personalized Easter Gifts Part 1

Personalized Easter Baskets from Figi'sEaster is a wonderful time to give or send someone special a personalized Easter basket or gift from Figi’s and we have many wonderful gifts to chose from! But before we explore specific gifts, let’s review why choosing a personalized gift from Figi’s is a great idea. For starters, kids and grand kids love to see their own name on a special gift given by you.  Personalization gives your gift a little something ‘extra special’ because it makes your Easter gift unique and memorable; when your little one sees the gift you sent with her name on it, she’ll remember YOU sent it. Personalized gifts show you took extra time and effort to do something very special.  In addition, personalized gifts from Figi’s are fun and affordable; in fact several best-sellers have discounts for buying in pairs. Finally, personalized gifts are identifiable; it’s harder (though not impossible) for kids to argue ownership over something that clearly has the owner’s name on it :)

Figi’s has many adorable personalized gifts you can treat your kids and grand kids with this Easter; trust us when we say putting a child’s name on a special gift from you will mean so much to them!  Let’s take a closer look at a few of our most popular and new personalized Easter gifts:

Personalized Cuddle Bunny Floor Pillow from Figi'sPersonalized Cuddle Bunny Floor Pillows:  Imagine your little one’s excitement when he or she sees their name on these cute and cuddly Easter bunny themed body pillows!  These pillows are perfect for napping, snuggling, TV time, trips to grandma’s house…you name it!  Last year, a Figi’s customer said of this gift: Excellent! So cute!! Love my son’s name on this item. Looks better in person than the picture…so adorable.

Personalized Floppy-Eared Bunnies from Figi'sPersonalized Floppy-Eared Bunnies: Looking for something cute and cuddly, but smaller than the pillow shown above? No problem: check out these Easter best-sellers!  Figi’s has helped thousands of parents and grandparents deliver Easter smiles with these adorable personalized bunnies.  Our girl version wears a pretty party dress; the boy version dons overalls – both versions are embroidered with the special name you specify. Plus, if you buy a pair of bunnies, you receive a special discount.

Personalized Easter Treat Pails from Figi'sPersonalized Easter Treat Pails:  Okay, those are both great ideas, but does Figi’s have something personalized and edible?  Yes we do!  In fact this next gift combines “cute and cuddly” with yummy Easter candy to make an ideal fun surprise for your little ones. Other Easter gifts “pail” in comparison (sorry…I couldn’t help myself).  These best selling personalized Easter baskets for kids have cool star sunglasses; a play shovel and pail; plush ducks (complete with their own cute sunglasses!); jelly sugar rabbits and chicks; a dark chocolate marshmallow egg and more! This Easter gift also has special pricing when you buy a  pair of pails.

Personalized Bunny Tins from Figi'sPersonalized Bunny Tins:  Another wonderful combination in a personalized Easter basket for kids, this gift has a reusable Easter tin with your child’s name on the lid; a cute mini plush bunny; and a self-inking stamper.  Assorted candy includes: a Pez® candy dispenser; Easter jelly beans; yummy marshmallow eggs; and other assorted chocolates!  This is another great Figi’s Easter gift with special discount pricing when you buy a pair of tins.

Personalized Dinosaur Fun Bag from Figi'sPersonalized Princess Fun Bag:  Here’s something unique and extra-special for your ‘little princess.’  This Easter basket for kids has just about everything a princess could need (pumpkin carriage and glass slippers not included).  This princess fun kit includes a pretty tiara; a pearl-like necklace; strawberry cream and key lime taffy; taffy pops; strawberry flavored popcorn; Jelly Belly® Disney® Princess jelly beans; and a giant princess crown cookie!  Also included is a castle stationary case to hold assorted stickers, a small notebook and crayons – all in a pretty pink canvas bag with your princess’s name embroidered in white. She’ll have a “ball” with this gift! (sorry…) This is a new gift for us and already has this nice review from a Figi’s customer: ‘I purchased this product, along with others for my granddaughter’s birthday. Having it personalized for her meant everything to her. She was thrilled with the gifts and gave me much satisfaction in seeing her excitement. I would definitely recommend this to all.

Personalized Dinosaur Fun Bag from Figi'sPersonalized Dinosaur Fun Bag: Chances are, your little guy loves dinosaurs. If so, imagine the excitement this personalized Easter gift will bring him!  This cute new gift from Figi’s has everything a little paleontologist could use on an expedition: a dinosaur sticker book; a dinosaur case of crayons; a dinosaur shaped sugar cookie; some green apple flavored popcorn; Laffy Taffy®; Dinosaur Gummi Kabobs; Tootsie Roll® Pops; Mike & Ike® Original Fruit; and assorted mini dinosaurs!  All of this fun comes in a green fun bag with your little one’s name embroidered in white. It’s a “dino-mite” gift! (better?)

If you have any questions about these or other Figi’s gifts, please contact us; we’re happy to help you find the perfect gift. To see our full assortment of personalized Easter gift baskets and other gifts, please click here. To learn more about Figi’s Easter Basket Delivery, click here.

Thanks for reading Gourmet Market. We’ll be back soon with “Take it Personally: Personalized Easter Gifts Part 2″ and  more fun spring holiday and gift giving topics.

More Personalized Easter Baskets from Figi's

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March Madness Watch Party Essentials Round 1

March Madness 2014 is here! Many people (myself included) look forward to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament each year.  The games are generally exciting and spirited. It’s hard not to get caught up in all the excitement, especially if you’ve engaged in some friendly competition with friends and co-workers through a bracket challenge.

March Madness and snacking go hand in glove.  Are you hosting or attending a March Madness watch party? If so, then you know having an array of snack foods at guests’ fingertips is a must and we’re here to help.  Even if you aren’t into March Madness yourself, chances are, you have a friend or relative that is; surprise them with one of these snack gifts delivered.  With that, here are some game-winning  snack foods from Figi’s that will make you an MVP with friends and family.

Double Wisconsin Variety Meat and Cheese Gift Box From Figi'sDouble Wisconsin Variety: This gift has it all! Snack-sized cuts of Wisconsin cheese, sausages, mixed nuts and jumbo cashews!  Plus, we threw in two delicious chocolate bars to quell your sweet-tooth.  Team up Double Wisconsin Variety with your favorite crackers. We’ve included Cheddar, Colby Jack, Salami flavored and Vegetable flavored cheese varieties.  Our Smokehouse Sausage varieties include  Beef Summer Sausage, Steakhouse Blend Sausage, Garlic Beef Sausage, Beerwurst Sausage, and Pizza Sausage.

Hot and Spicy Cajun Snack Mix from Figi'sHot & Spicy Cajun Mix: Here’s a snack mix that’s definitely as ‘hot’ as the tournament action itself!  Figi’s crunchy Cajun Snack Mix has the perfect amount of zip to make your taste buds tingle.  It’s a zesty mix of Virginia Peanuts, Almonds, shelled Sunflower Seeds, Soynuts, Pepitas, Hot & Spicy Peanuts, and Cajun Corn Sticks.

Country Cheeses SpreadsCreamy Country® Cheese Spreads: You can’t go wrong with Figi’s Creamy Country® Cheese Spreads; it’s no wonder these spreads are our best-selling gifts!  We have all the best flavors out there and they’re perfect for sandwiches, crackers, bagel chips, pitas, wraps, pretzels and more! Choose from our ‘sweet sixteen’ ounce or ‘elite eight’ ounce sizes of Port Wine, Cool Ranch, Cheddar, French Onion, Swiss and Almond and other flavors – the more you buy, the more you save!

Delightful Dozen Meat and Cheese Gift Box from Figi'sDelightful Dozen and Half Dozen Cheese and Meat Gift Box:  Figi’s has put together a great combination for your party – delicious snack sized cuts of sausage, Wisconsin cheese and spreadable cheese logs are all included in this all-star lineup. You’ll get robust Summer, Mettwurst, Garlic and Cheddar Jalapeno Sausages, along with Cheddar, Colby, Brick, and Edam Cheeses.  And don’t forget the nut rolled Kave Kure® Cheddar, Port Wine, Swiss, and Smoky Cheese Logs; perfect for veggies, crackers, wraps and more!

Nostalgic Popcorn Gift Tin from Figi'sNostalgic Popcorn Tin: What can be easier to snack on than popcorn from Figi’s?! Not much. Just pop the top and let the snacking begin!  This game-winning snack tin includes plump, firm, and full of flavor popcorn varieties in a fun, retro tin.  Popcorn varieties include Butter Flavored, Wisconsin Double Cheddar, and Copper Kettle Caramel Popcorn in the 3-way tin. Figi’s 6-way  tin has Kettlecorn, Wisconsin White Cheddar and Double Cheddar, Copper Kettle Caramel, Vanilla, and Caramel Corn with pecans and almonds!

Smokehouse Meat Sticks and MoreSmokehouse Beef Sticks:  Your journey to the tourney should include these Figi’s best-sellers.  Our moist and flavorful smoked meat sticks are made in the best smokehouse tradition – seasoned just the way you like ‘em.  They’re a great value with our Buy More and Save pricing – treat the whole team! Choose from Beef, Pepperoni, Hot & Spicy and Honey Ham.

California PistachiosCalifornia Pistachios:  Our final March Madness Party snack idea is California Pistachios from Figi’s. Our best selection of huge natural California Pistachios are rich and nutty; carefully roasted and lightly salted, they have that slightly sweet Pistachio taste snack-lovers will appreciate.

Everyone’s a winner with Wisconsin cheese, sausage and snacks from Figi’s. Check out our complete roster of snack gifts here. Our lineup of cheese and meat gifts can be found here.  Have fun this March Madness; here’s hoping your bracket isn’t busted after day one!

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Fun St. Patrick’s Day Trivia and Gifts – Part 2

St. Patrick's Day Parade

Welcome back to our review of St. Patrick’s Day trivia. In Part 1, we shared interesting trivia about Saint Patrick and assorted fun traditions carried out around the United States.  In Part 1, I also promised to share the translation of “Éirinn Go Brách.” Without further ado; that phrase translates to “Ireland Forever” and is used to express Irish nationalism.  Here are a few more Irish sayings you can try out while celebrating with family and friends; as far as correct pronunciation is concerned…you’re on your own :)

Gráim thú means “I Love You.” Sláinte means “To your Good Health” or “Cheers.”  Beannachtaí na Fáile Pádraig is a St. Patrick’s Day blessing. Dia dhuit means “Hello” and literally means “God be with you.”  Ní fhaca mé le fada thú menas “Long time, no see.”  And finally, Go n-éirí an t-ádh leat translates as “Good luck”  (literally, May luck rise with you).

While you can try to impress your friends with those Irish phrases, it may be less difficult (and embarrassing) to try out this trivia…

  • Many Irish names have an O’ prefix; the O’ prefix means “grandson of.”  Mac and Mc are also common and mean “son.”

LeprechaunSo what is a leprechaun anyway? A leprechaun is a little shoemaker, typically ill-tempered and wealthy.  They like to store away their treasure trove of coins in a pot at the end of a rainbow.  It’s said that if you catch a leprechaun, it must grant you three wishes in exchange for its freedom. (photo courtesy spiderwick.wikia.com)

  • If you don’t wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, you open your self up to get pinched. You might want to be careful with that one now days…
  • It’s said that in Ireland, there is one pub for every 350 people; all pubs in Ireland are generally open every day except Good Friday and Christmas Day.

Kissing the Blarney StoneI always thought you kissed the Blarney Stone for good luck. Turns out, you kiss the Blarney Stone to make you less shy and more talkative; to become more eloquent. To learn more about this tradition and how hard it is to actually kiss the Blarney Stone, click here. (photo courtesy blarneycastle.ie)

  • The first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the New World took place in Boston circa 1737; the first official parade in New York City took place in 1762; it’s the world’s largest and oldest St. Patrick’s Day parade. (main parade image courtesy news.nationalgeographic.com)

Connemara marble jewelryIreland is famous for its green-tinted Connemara marble (used in jewelry making, building facades, flooring and more) and beautiful Waterford Crystal. The Waterford factory melts over 750 tons of lead crystal per year.  Waterford produces over 45,000 high-end crystal pieces per year. (photo courtesy etsy.com)

  • For more St. Patrick’s Day fun facts, visit History.com here.

There’s still time to get some fun St. Patrick’s Day Gifts from Figi’s…but not much time! See them, and other great Holiday gifts, here.

Figi's St. Patrick's Day GiftsWe hope you’ve enjoyed our short tour through St. Patrick’s Day trivia and tradition. We’ll be back soon with more Easter facts and trivia, along with other fun topics, coming later this spring. Thanks again for reading Gourmetmarket.com; please let us know what you think about our blog in the comment field below. If you have some topic ideas, be sure to share them with us as well.

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The Nine Million Dollar Egg

Happy Easter from Figi'sA title like ‘The Nine Million Dollar Egg’ is sure to get some attention! We’ll get to nine million dollar egg in a bit, but by way of introduction, this post is all about Easter. Granted, Easter is still a bit of a ‘hop down the bunny trail,’ but since it is my favorite holiday, I like to start celebrating early. I’ll have other posts about this very special holiday in the coming weeks and I hope you enjoy the first installment centered around some fun and interesting Easter trivia.

Chocolate EggsWhat is the most popular Easter candy? Chocolate Eggs. You just can’t miss with this combination of classic candy and the most popular Easter symbol. Whether malted, solid chocolate, caramel filled, foil-wrapped, or with crisp rice, chocolate eggs are hard to beat!

Child and Chocolate BunnyHow do most people eat their chocolate bunnies? Most people choose ‘ears first’ – 76% of the population agrees the ears are the best part! In reality, does it really matter – chocolate feet first or chocolate ears first: it’s all the same delicious chocolate, right? If you’re interested in chocolate bunnies, Figi’s has a few varieties available – including a five pounder! You can check them all out here.

Jelly BeansHow many jellybeans are purchased at Easter time? Would you believe…16 BILLION?! If all were lined up end to end, they would circle the globe three times. Figi’s also carries a selection of jelly beans, perfect for Easter or any time! Cold Stone Creamery® and Jelly Belly® varieties can be found here.

Hot Cross BunsWhat English baked good is a traditional Good Friday treat, thought to ward off fires, shipwrecks, and keep rats out of the corn? Hot cross buns. I have to admit it; I never heard that one before. People believed that hot cross buns baked on Good Friday would never go moldy, and so they kept them from one Good Friday to the next.

Easter EggsWhy are eggs an Easter symbol? Eggs have been a symbol of life and rebirth since ancient times. Ancient cultures of Egypt, Persia, Gaul, Rome, and Greece all used this symbol. This tradition made its way into Easter; a holiday that celebrates rebirth.

Egg Rolling at the White HouseWhen did the most famous Easter celebration – Easter Egg Rolling on the White House lawn – begin?  President Andrew Johnson’s family originally rolled eggs at the White House. Over time, children in Washington D.C began participating in the activity on the Capitol grounds. However, this practice was very hard on the Capitol’s landscaping. As a result, Congress outlawed the practice in 1878. President Rutherford B. Hayes kindly opened up the White House lawn to any child who wished to roll an egg, and the tradition continues to this day.

Easter LillyWhat prompted growers in the US to start producing Easter lilies? Japan was the main supplier of Easter lilies until 1941 when our supply was cut off because of World War II. Lilly hobbyists in America decided to turn their hobby into a business; and the industry is still booming! The Easter lily is the fourth most popular potted plant. 

The WinterEggAnd last but not least…which decorated eggs are the world’s most valuable?  In the 1880s, Peter Carl Faberge was commissioned by Czar Alexander III to create decorated eggs for the Czarina Maria Feorodovna. Fifty-seven of these treasures were hand crafted, and are now worth millions each. The “Winter Egg” sold for, get this – $9,579,500 in 2002!

Personalized Peanut Butter Egg from Figi'sThe best part about starting your Easter celebration early is that you have longer to indulge in all of those awesome Easter treats! Here are a few of my favorites: Personalized Peanut Butter Eggs (if they’re your favorite too, you might like our Peanut Butter Pie or Easter Bunny Bites!)

Cold Stone Creamery Jelly Beans from Figi'sCold Stone Creamery® Ice Cream Parlor Mix Jelly Belly® Beans are delightful, so much better than traditional jellybeans. Enjoy Chocolate Devotion®, Our Strawberry Blonde®, Birthday Cake Remix™, Apple Pie A La Cold Stone®, and Mint Mint Chocolate Chocolate Chip®, all in a fun ice cream cone gift tin.

Happy Easter Petits Fours from Figi'sOf course, most of all, I love Happy Easter Petits Fours! These cute, creamy and absolutely irresistible chick petits fours join in the fun of wishing loved ones a “Happy Easter!” We also have a new Petits Fours gift for Easter; you can check out the new Gourmet Easter Petits Fours here.

Easter Basket's From Figi'sWe also have a fine assortment of Easter Baskets to choose from.

Let Figi’s help you find the Easter treats to perk you up and chase away those winter blues. To view our entire Easter Gifts selection, including baskets, chocolate bunnies, egg candies and more, click here

If you love Easter as much as I do, be sure to visit our Easter Gifts and Crafts Pinterest Board. There, you’ll find lots of recipes, egg dying techniques, crafts and much more! 

If you have any special memories of Easter or traditions you’d like to share, please use the comments field below. Thanks again for reading Gourmetmarket.com; we’ll be with you again soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fun St. Patrick’s Day Trivia and Gifts – Part 1

St Patrick's Day Parade, Dublin OhioÉirinn go Brách! Yes, another favorite holiday is fast approaching: St. Patrick’s Day is March 17th!  It’s a holiday commonly associated with the coming of springtime (hurry up, please!); rainbows and pots of gold (yes, I’ve tried to find a rainbows’ end a time or two); leprechauns; shamrocks (and for my son…shamrock shakes); dressing in green; festive parades; drinking green beer; and perhaps getting into a wee bit o’ mischief.  Seems to me like a perfect holiday to blog about and so I will :)

Erin Go Bragh

I chose to open this post with “Éirinn go Brách!” which is often spelled Erin go Bragh.  However, I have a confession: I’ve seen that phrase associated with this holiday countless times…and had no idea what it meant.  I figured, “it must be Irish for something.”  Does it mean “Happy St. Patrick’s Day”…or maybe it means “Kiss me, I’m Irish?”  Well, after a little research, I solved the mystery of  “Éirinn go Brách!” and managed gathered a few more interesting St. Patty’s Day facts to share with you.

But first, if you’re looking for some festive and fun St. Patrick’s Day gifts, we have them! Any of these gifts would be great for an office party, St. Patty’s Day celebrations at home or as a gift for your Irish (and Irish at heart) friends and family.  After all, everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Click here to shop the gifts seen below; at time of publishing this post, many of these gifts were on sale! We’ve got Irish-themed cookies, candy and other snacks, plus party supplies as seen below.

Figi's St. Patrick's Day Gifts

Most people know that according to legend, Saint Patrick was known for banishing dangerous animals from Ireland (particularly snakes).  But did you know he did this by beating a drum?  Did you know Saint Patrick’s true given name was Maewyn Succat and he wasn’t Irish by birth (he was born in England)?  I also learned St. Patrick’s Day marks Maewyn’s passing not his birthday.

Here are some more trivia for you:

  • The color originally associated with Saint Patrick was blue; the color green became associated to St. Patrick’s Day in the 19th century.
  • As of 2008, there were more Americans of Irish decent (est. 36 million) than there were Irish living in Ireland (est. 4.4 million).
  • There are four U.S. municipalities named “Shamrock.” You can find them in West Virginia, Texas, Indiana and Oklahoma.
  • There are nine U.S. municipalities named “Dublin.” Dublin, California and Dublin, Ohio are generally the best known.  And speaking of towns named Dublin…

New London, Wisconsin becomes “New Dublin” 

New Dublin, WisconsinA week-long St. Patrick’s festival kicks off when members of the “Shamrock Club” in New London, Wisconsin dress up as leprechauns, then change New London’s highway signs to read “New Dublin.”  The town’s population numbers about 7,000, but “New Dublin” draws around 30,000 people on St. Patrick’s Day. Residents and visitors are treated to bagpipe players, a Finnegan’s Wake complete with a green hearse and Irish Fest complete with Celtic bands, Irish foods (especially corn beef and cabbage) and more.

Dye me a River

Chicago River Dyed GreenA few municipalities are known for this practice, but perhaps Chicago is most famous for it. For more than 40 years, the Chicago River has been dyed green on St. Patrick’s Day.  The river is colored with an eco-friendly powdered vegetable dye.  It usually takes several days for the green coloration to disappear.

The World’s Biggest Shamrock

World's Biggest ShamrockO’Neill, Nebraska is known as Nebraska’s “Irish capital.”  O’neill has a four-leaf clover painted in the middle of the intersection of Route 281 and Highway 20. This symbol is a reminder of the town’s deep Irish roots. St. Patrick’s Day events in O’Neill include include a parade, the Shamrock Fun Run and a dodge ball tournament.

Oh yes…I forgot to explain what “Éirinn go Brách” means, didn’t I?  I’ll revisit that in the next post: “Fun St. Patrick’s Day Trivia Part 2.”  Do you have any fun St. Patrick’s Day traditions? Please tell us about them in the comments field below.

Also, if you love Pinterest, St. Patrick’s Day and all things Irish, be sure to check out our St. Patty’s Day Pinterest board here.

Thanks again for reading Gourmetmarket.com!

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Figi’s History Part 3: World’s Largest Cheese and the 1964-1965 World’s Fair

We hope you have enjoyed Figi’s History Part 1 and Part 2. If you haven’t read, or would like to re-read those posts, you can access Part 1 (it all started at a kitchen table and and how to pronounce “Figi’s”) HERE.  You can access Part 2 (the fascinating connection between Figi’s and Mount Everest) HERE. With that, we’re on to the connection Figi’s had with the world’s largest cheese and the 1964-1965 World’s Fair.

Figi’s 20th Anniversary Celebration

On a Saturday evening in 1964, 800 guests attended Figi’s 20th Anniversary Celebration in rural Marshfield, Wisconsin. The grand affair consisted of a tour of the Figi’s facilities, cheese and wine tasting, and the opportunity to view, get this…a 34,951-pound cheddar cheese created for the Wisconsin Exhibit at the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair. That’s over 17 tons of cheddar! This mammoth cheddar, known as “The Golden Giant,” was made for the Wisconsin Cheese Foundation for the express purposes of promoting Wisconsin cheese around the world.  Pictured below, Figi’s had the honor of housing this renowned cheese for the weekend. That’s one big block of cheese!

World's Largest Cheese

The Golden Giant

The Golden Giant was manufactured by Steve’s Cheese near Denmark, Wisconsin (not far from Green Bay). The process took 43 ½ hours of continuous work by a crew of 25. The crew included four Wisconsin cheese makers who had won the famed “World’s Champion Cheddar Cheesemaking” award. Approximately 170,000 quarts of milk was used to make this mammoth cheese; it was the largest single piece of cheese ever made!  The Golden Giant’s dimensions were 6 ½ feet wide,  5 ½ feet tall and 14 ½ feet long. The Golden Giant was made rectangular rather cylindrical (as most mammoth cheese are shaped) so it could be transported by truck or train.

Largest Cheese Production Shots

In April of 1964, the Golden Giant was loaded into a special glass sided trailer and transported by diesel tractor to the New York World’s Fair – Wisconsin exhibition area. Interesting trivia: the semi trailer and a replica of the Golden Giant cheese are still on display in Neillsville, WI – just a few miles from the Figi’s corporate office. Here’s a photo:

World's Largest Cheese

Touring with the Cheesemobile

It is estimated that the Golden Giant , was seen by 12 million people during the two years of the 1964-1965 World’s Fair.  After appearing at the Fair, the “Cheesemobile” toured the United States, stopping at major cities, various expositions, fairs and shopping centers, carrying the story of Wisconsin cheese to the nations. And to think:, the Golden Giant debuted right here in little Marshfield, Wisconsin at a Figi’s 20th Anniversary Celebration!

2014 marks our 70th year and we thank all of our customers for supporting us through the years. Thanks for reading gourmetmarket.com; we’ll be back soon with more fun stories to share with you soon. Oh, and if all this ‘cheese talk’ has made you hungry, like our mouse friend below, check out our fantastic selection of cheese gifts and gift baskets here.

Largest Cheese Cartoon

World’s Fair Image Credits: www.nywf64.com

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King Cake from Figi’s: a Mardi Gras Tradition

King Cake from Figi'sWhat’s a King Cake?

File this under “I never knew (insert topic) until I got a job at Figi’s.”  I never heard of  “King Cake” until…you got it…I got a job at Figi’s. I recently saw King Cake on our website; I included the website image of this gift at the top of this blog.  I think you would agree this cake looks very colorful and delicious! I also noticed this cake was pictured with two rather interesting items. The first item was obvious; it is hard to miss the Mardis Gras beads in the photo above.  By the way, Mardis Gras is coming up in a couple weeks.  The second item is more conspicuous; did you find it? Our King Cake comes with…a miniature plastic baby…? What in the world?! I just had to learn more about this gift!

My initial ignorance is probably the product of being born and raised in the upper Midwest and not knowing a whole lot about Mardi Gras. However, after a little research, I have learned King Cakes are a big part of Mardis Gras celebrations especially in New Orleans, but also all around the globe. I found out hundreds of thousands of King Cakes are consumed during the Mardi Gras season every year.  That makes sense to me: where there’s a party, there’s usually some sort of cake.

King Cake History and Tradition

I’ll spare you a big Mardi Gras history lesson, but in summary: January 6th is the twelfth night after Christmas and is also the day the Mardi Gras season begins. Mardi Gras Day is always 47 days prior to Easter Sunday and Fat Tuesday is always the day before Ash Wednesday.  I also discovered how “Fat Tuesday” got its name, but I digress.  On the Twelfth night after Christmas, it is common in New Orleans to celebrate the Wise Men’s (a.k.a. the Three Kings) pilgrimage to worship and bring gifts to Baby Jesus. This is usually referred to “Little Christmas on the Twelfth Night” or the “Feast of the Epiphany.”  At this celebration, people enjoy a hearty meal, exchanging gifts and in many cases, bake (or buy) a special cake in honor of the Three Kings…a King Cake.

King Cake from Figi'sThere’s a Baby in my Cake!

Traditionally, a tiny representation of the Baby Jesus is hidden inside the King Cake. The baby is usually plastic, but sometimes is made of other materials such as porcelain or even gold.  Figi’s King Cake includes a plastic baby and is NOT hidden in the cake; you can add the baby into the cake, but you should tell everyone eating the cake about the ‘surprise’  and its purpose.  Nothing spoils a party like a mouthful of unannounced plastic baby.  Traditionally, the person who receives the slice of cake with the baby inside is supposed to host next year’s party and supply the King Cake.

King Cake from Figi's What About the Colors?

King Cakes were originally a simple ring of dough with a small amount of decoration. Today’s King Cakes are much more festive and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Some bakeries stuff their cakes with different flavors of cream cheese and fruit fillings.  Our version is a Danish Kringle containing luscious cream cheese filling; its topped with confectioner’s sugar glaze and purple, green, and yellow granulated sugar in true Mardi Gras style.  The traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold have special meaning as follows: Justice = Purple, Power = Gold and Faith = Green.

And there you have it! I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about King Cake. For more terrific Bakery items from Figi’s, including Spring Cookie Variety, Gourmet Easter Petits Fours, Almond Custard Coffee Cake , click here and thanks for reading Gourmetmarket.com!

Spring Cookie Variety from Figi'sGourmet Easter Petits Fours from Figi'sAlmond Custard Coffee Cake from Figi's

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Chocolate Lovers Rejoice!

Did you know…February is “Chocolate Lovers Month”

It is definitely fitting February is Chocolate Lovers Month, especially since Valentine’s Day generates over a billion dollars in sales for chocolate alone. What makes chocolate so popular? Is it the delicious taste; the smooth texture; how it melts in your mouth; or the multiple chocolate candies and recipes? Well, it’s all of that…and more!

Chocolate has been around for over 3,000 years and is produced from the seed of the tropical Theobroma Cacao tree. But it is a combination of the cocoa solids, butter, sugar and milk that give chocolate its infamous taste. Typically, other ingredients are added to make the wide variety of dark, milk and white chocolate flavors and candies we enjoy today.

Fun Facts About Chocolate

  1. Dark chocolate is healthier than milk chocolate and white chocolate, however, dark chocolate should be eaten in moderation. According to a study published in Women’s Health magazine, “a long-term study in Germany found that about a square of dark chocolate a day lowered blood pressure and reduced risk of heart attack and stroke by 39 percent. Most of the credit goes to “flavonoids” which are antioxidant compounds which increase the flexibility of veins and arteries (Domonell, n.d.)”
  2. Chocolate milk can boost your workout! “A study published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism compared the effects of a recovery drink and chocolate milk on endurance athletes’ ability to recover after a series of bike sprints followed by an endurance ride the next day. They found that chocolate milk was just as effective at relieving muscle soreness after the sprints, and preparing the athletes to perform in the endurance test the next day. Better yet, everyone preferred the taste of chocolate milk (Domonell, n.d.)”
  3. The smell of chocolate increases theta brain waves, which triggers relaxation (Facts Slides, n.d.)
  4. The inventor of the chocolate chip cookies sold the idea to Nestle Toll House in return for a lifetime supply of chocolate (Facts Slides, n.d.)
  5. Every second, Americans collectively eat 100 pounds of chocolate (Facts Slides, n.d.)
  6. Did you know there are potato chips dipped in milk chocolate?! They’re actually very tasty! Check out Figi’s Chocolate Potato Chips to try them out for yourself
  7. Cacao beans were used as currency by the Mayans and also in religious rituals. The Mayans only prepared chocolate for drinking; solid chocolate wasn’t created until the 1850s (Facts About Chocolate, n.d.)

Whatever your reason for loving chocolate, Figi’s Gifts in Good Taste offers a variety of sweet chocolaty treats to satisfy your craving or to share with someone you love. Learn more about Chocolate here and be sure to check out our most popular chocolate gifts below!

Chocolate Lover's Dream from Figi'sChocolate Lover’s Dream
Over two pounds of exquisite chocolates will make all your dreams come true. This melt-in-your-mouth assortment includes lavish, luscious creams, chewy caramels and crisp, crunchy nuts drenched in creamy milk or dark chocolate.

Creamy Country Fudge Wheel from Figi'sCreamy Country Fudge Wheel
This incredibly creamy fudge wheel blends rich ingredients for luxurious flavors that include double chocolate, maple nut, peanut butter swirl and chocolate walnut to satisfy your chocolate craving.

Caramel Pecan Clusters from Figi'sCaramel Pecan Clusters
This customer favorite includes large chunks of pecans in smooth, buttery-rich copper kettle caramel, dipped in velvety smooth chocolate. It is over one pound of deliciousness and you can choose from yummy milk chocolate or deep dark chocolate.

References

Domonell, K. (n.d.). 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Chocolate. Women’s Health Magazine. Retrieved February 14, 2014, from http://www.womenshealthmag.com/nutrition/chocolate-facts?page=5

(n.d.). 11 Things You Did Not know About Chocolate. I. Retrieved February 14, 2014, from http://www.factslides.com/s-Chocolate

(n.d.). Chocolate History: Who Invented Chocolate? Facts About Chocolate. Retrieved February 14, 2014, from http://www.facts-about-chocolate.com/chocolate-history/

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The Symbols of The Olympic Games

Opening CeremonyThe Winter Olympic Games are under way in Sochi. The opening ceremonies were stunning; the competitions have been entertaining. The Sochi games, as with Olympics past, have some very familiar symbols; easy recognizable to most people around the globe. You’re probably already thinking of a few symbols as you read this. I thought I’d explore some of the common symbols of the Olympic Games. Hopefully, you’ll learn something new and interesting along the way; I hope you enjoy this review and “go Team USA!” (opening ceremonies photo: NBC News)

Tourch lightThe Olympic Torch: few Olympic symbols are more recognizable than the Olympic torch. The flame itself is said to represent, among other things, purity and the pursuit of perfection.  In ancient Greece, the flame was ignited and kept burning until the closing of the Olympic Games, as is true in modern Olympics. The flame first appeared in modern Olympics in 1928.

Tourch lightThe journey of the Olympic torch from Greece to the host city is a long-standing tradition dating back to 1936. The Olympic flame is lit at the ancient site of Olympia, Greece by women wearing robes similar to what was common in ancient Greece. The torch is lit using a curved mirror that reflects sunlight. The Olympic torch is then passed from runner to runner, from the ancient site of Olympia, to the Olympic stadium in the hosting city.  The torch is passed along on to various athletes, celebrities, public officials and other citizens of the host country to the location of the latest Olympic Games. When the Olympic torch arrives at its destination, the final torch bearer lights the Olympic flame to signal the start of the Olympic Games.

Tourch RunIt has been reported about 14,000 torchbearers were involved with the Sochi torch replay in Russia, and and estimated 130 million Russians were able to see the torch. A map of the Sochi 2014 torch relay, with car journeys marked with white, plane journeys with blue and train journeys with red,  is shown above (Picture: The Siberian Times). That’s a whole lot of relay!

RingsThe Olympic Rings: perhaps the most recognizable symbols of the Olympic Games is the five interlocking colored rings, most commonly seen on the white Olympic flag. Each of the five rings has a unique color: blue, black, red, yellow and green. Every nation’s flag has at least one of these colors present. Pierre de Coubertin created this symbol in 1912; it represents our world’s five major contents from which Olympic athletes compete. The rings interlock as a sign of the friendships created between the competitors. The official Olympic flag, featuring this symbol on a white background, first flew in 1920.

MedalsThe Olympic Medals: we’re all aware athletes compete for medals; there are gold, silver, and bronze medals for athletes (or teams) who finish their event in first, second, and third place position.  The reverse side of an Olympic medal typically bears a design commemorative  to the city hosting the Olympic Games.  The Sochi medals are pictured above. Here’s an interesting fact: the last gold medals, made entirely of gold, were awarded in 1912. Visit the Today Show’s website, today.com, here for more fun Sochi Olympic medal facts.

Thanks for reading gourmetmarket.com!

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