Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Opinion: Five Tar Heel ways to share holiday spirit


As we enter the holiday season, I’ll share some great N.C. food items that are great gifts for clients, employees or anyone else you would like to share a little holiday spirit with. Take these with a grain of salt — though, I wouldn’t actually take any more salt, as there is quite a bit already in these ideas. Seriously, we hope you have the best of the season and a very prosperous New Year in 2020. Thanks for being a part of what we do.

Dewey’s Bakery’s cream horns. I spent a good part of my childhood in Winston-Salem, so Dewey’s was always a go-to for my family. Whether it was Moravian cookies, love feast buns or sugar cake, there was always something good in the kitchen. But I had a real affinity for their cream horns. The inside is a light frosting made of what seems like cream cheese and Cool Whip, which are two of my three food groups. The outside puff pastry crust is covered in powdered sugar and so flaky you are definitely wearing it after you eat. Word to the wise: Don’t wear black when eating them, and make sure you clean yourself up before you drive; otherwise you look like a scene out of Scarface with all that powdered sugar on you.

George’s Sauces. My brother-in-law from Wilson introduced this Nashville-based eastern-style sauce to me a few years back. It’s vinegar-based with pepper flakes, but I think it has a little sugar as well, which makes a very nice sweet-and-sour, hot mixture that I’ve never had before. Of course, it’s perfect on smoked pig. Here’s one of my favorite ways to use it: Soak a whole chicken in it overnight, sit it on a half-can of Budweiser, and then grill for an hour or two over indirect heat, and you have some serious beer-can chicken, Hoss!

Mt. Olive Pickles. My father-in-law used to give everyone a box of four to five assorted jars of pickles from the pickle capital of the world, Mount Olive, every Christmas. My wife wasn’t too impressed, but I loved them. Straight up dill spears, maybe some chow chow (great for hot dogs) and, of course, the venerable bread-and-butter sweet pickles. Bread and butters sweeten life, in my opinion. Whether it’s used as relish in chicken or tuna salad or two small B&B chips on top of a turkey sandwich, they are simply perfect. I’m sending a case to Washington (and Raleigh).

Westwater Country Ham. I was in Duplin County recently and recalled a certain country ham that I received a few years back from Warsaw. Westwater Country Hams is solid, or in their words, “The way it was meant to be!” This is the gift you get the special folks in your life. My dad cooks his in ginger ale, which adds a nice flavor. I’ve seen recipes with Dr Pepper or Pepsi. There is nothing like an N.C. ham biscuit on a cold morning to get you going. 910-293-7294

Magnolia Coffee. My friend, and head coffee guy, Jay Gestwicki created Matthews-based Magnolia Coffee Co. to provide exceptional tasting coffees and make a difference in people’s lives. It sources coffees from around the world and meticulously roasts them in small batches to highlight each coffee’s peak natural flavors. I asked him what makes it stand out: “Magnolia Coffee proudly supports socially conscious coffee to help make a difference in the lives of the coffee harvesters at origin. Magnolia also partners with multiple nonprofits to support local communities.” Its popular brands are Brazil Conquista, Guatemala Finca San Gerardo, Dreamlands Blend and the seasonal Poinsettia Blend.

Ben Kinney
Ben Kinney
Ben Kinney is publisher of Business North Carolina magazine. You can reach him at

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