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April 10, 2009

The cybermarket



I used to order food over the Internet. One specific food, anyway, and one you've heard me whine about before: Brownberry Bread. Guest author Bucky has opened an old wound with this Bucky's World post. EL

I just restocked my potato chip inventory with an Internet order to Mrs. Fisher’s potato chip factory in Rockford, Ill.  Mrs. Fisher’s are my favorite chips, but that’s not the only reason I order them on the ‘net. ...

At our grocery store an 11-ounce bag of, well, a name-brand chip that doesn’t last very long because I can’t eat just one, is $3.99, or about $4.19 with tax.  That’s just over 38 cents an ounce.  You can get a “family size” bag — 14 ounces — for about $5.21, or a little over 37 cents per ounce.  

By ordering chips over the Internet, I can get 8 one-pound bags of my favorite chips for $35.  That works out to less than 28 cents per ounce.  And, yes, that price includes shipping.  It is, as we like to say at the office, the 12/12th’s cost.

I know that Sandboxer PCB Rob orders nuts over the Internet.  I’m not sure if he does that because he has a favorite kind of nuts he can get only by ordering, or if they cost less.  In a previous topic, Joseph Kunigonis, alerted us that Angelina's of Maryland sells crab cakes on the 'net.   

How about the rest of y’all?  Do you ever order food over the Internet?  Do you regularly do so, and for yourself?  (I’m not talking about a Harry & David or Swiss Colony gift order at Christmastime.)  If you do, do you order because of price, quality or because the food is something special — a regional favorite, for example — you can get only by ordering?

And for those of you who do shop for food on the ‘net, share with the Sandbox some of your favorites.

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 10:05 AM | | Comments (69)


Seckinger-Lee/Byrd Cookie Company used to make these outstanding Parmesan-Black Olive "martini crackers." I used to order them online all the time, becuase no retailers around here carried them.

One day they disappeared from the company's website. I called the company and was told that they didn't sell well and were discontinued. I asked the person (half-jokingly) if they had a case or two just sitting around in a warehouse somewhere. I was told that they did, in fact, have two cases "left over." I bought both cases (at a hefty discount) and had 'em shipped to me. I'm trying to eat them
V - E - R - Y S - L - O - W - L - Y, because when these crackers are gone, they are GONE.

When Netflix delivers pizza and beer with its movies, I'll never have to leave the house again.

I order specialty flours from King Arthur, but that probably doesn't count.

a long long time ago, i ordered from netgrocer when that was one of the first online grocery stores. that was almost 10 years ago though.
I regularly order from amazon. it's like costco/sams club prices without the membership. plus the free ship over 25 bucks helps. Even better though is every month, they have new sales and special offers (usually 25 bucks off 75 buck purchase, sometimes better). their subscribe and save also gives like an extra 15% off (though you can cancel your subscription before getting a second one.

i've bought things from chips, cookies ramen, coffee, milk (the kind that doesn't spoil), steel cut oatmeal, spices, meat (omaha steaks), canned goods, etc. pretty much, if it's a good deal, i'd most likely buy it... (i eat anything).

I order chili-flavored pistachio nuts from Eagle Ranch Pistachio Growers ( in NM. They grow, harvest, process, package, and ship from their own facility so they have not been affected by the pistachio recall. They also have regular and other flavors, as well as pistachio candy and the like.

I also order most of my spices from Penzeys Spices ( except when I feel like driving to their store in Rockville.

Note: URLs included because the blogware insists on putting "" in front of them when added according to "the rules." Which makes them not work.

I think the web is great for specialty foods that are hard to find a good range for in stores. I order all my tea from

Yes, I order pistachios online ( because the quality is superior to anything I've found in stores. I also get dried apricots and quinoa from there too. Can't find quinoa down here, or at least its not in the grocery stores. The apricots are always large and the quinoa is ready to use, no rinsing needed.
Shipping time is very quick, it only takes 3-4 to get here their facility in New Jersey, and Baltimore gets them in a day.
And I get smoked turkey from Godshalls ( in PA, thanks to Owl's recommendation.

Penzeys, of course. But, while I used to order food on the net, boxes can't be left where I live and I don't have a car to pick them up, so I mostly stick to what I can get locally.

I do order my green coffee beans to roast from Sweet Maria's.

Lofsbergs Lila coffee in Skanrost. Used to be able to get it @IKEA, but they switched brands.

So much for locavorism ...


When you make your trip to Bmore you will have to try Grandma Utz's Handcooked Potato Chips. They are cooked in Lard. Yumm.

They can be ordered on line but shipping is extra. I always stock up on my trips back to Maryland from Kentucky

I order illy caffe coffee dark roast since I've only seen medium roast in the stores here.

I try to be a locavore (Mill Valley & my own veggie garden at least), but I could never do the Kingsolver bit even for one year, let alone permanently. That would really mean abandoning my coffee entirely. Zeke's is "local," but I'm not sure that the shipping of the beans to them is significantly greener than shipping roasted coffee to me(?)

I order specialty flours from King Arthur, but that probably doesn't count. It counts for a comment, Hal, but it wouldn't count if it were a guest post. I'd explain but I don't understand all the rules either.

Matt: All this time I thought Amazon sold books and records...I'll have to go check it out.

LEC - I've had Utz's (and, interestingly, I remembered them as "Grandma Utz's" but everyone on here seems to call them just Utz's) in 2002. (I have been to Baltimore, but just overnight, on my way to the Outer Banks.) I remember them as being very good. I didn't know about the lard, which probably explains why I liked them.

I think Grandma Utz's is just the kettle cooked chips, while Utz are all the chips. For some reason Utz has two lines of kettle chips: Utz Kettle Chips and Grandma Utz. I'm not sure if there is a difference, but according to the bag the Grandma Utz kettle chips are handmade.


Two different beasts. Utz is the main brand usually in a red and white bag. Grandma Utz is in a brown colored paper bag.

It's the difference between a good jug wine and an excellent varietal.

Bucky, Grandma Utz's is not the same as regular red and white bag Utz's, it's supposed to be fancier or something.

I might be a heathen, but I like plain ordinary Utz chips the best.

RoCK, LEC & Hal: Thanks for the explanation. Every time I've seen "Utz's" here, I've just assumed that my memory was off. I would have asked, but I thought it might be a meatball question.

The difference between the kettle chips is solely what oil they're cooked in. Grandma Utz chips (as many people have already said) are cooked in lard - almost all of the non-Grandma Kettle Chips are cooked in peanut oil (look for 'Classic' Kettle Chips). The regular 'generic' Utz chips are all cooked in 100% cottonseed oil - "since 1921" according to the Utz web site. There are the odd lots cooked in something else (soybean oil, Olean for the non-fat chips), but these three oils are the primary ones. Personally, I prefer the Grandma Utz chips because to me, the idea of a 'healthy' potato chip is a complete oxymoron - if I'm going to commit a nutritional sin by eating potato chips in the first place, then why should I compromise with a mere venial version?

I've been buying spices from Penzey's for a while, but just recently started ordering certain McCormick spice blends online from There are a few MC spice blends that my family has used for three generations - McCormick still makes these blends for the commercial market, but don't sell them at retail any more. You have to buy from SpicePlace in bulk containers, but by the time I portion them out between what are now five separate households, we use them up pretty quickly.

- if I'm going to commit a nutritional sin by eating potato chips in the first place, then why should I compromise with a mere venial version?

I like JeffS.

I've had pretty good luck with spices from They make some great blends. I really like the Sunny Parris, which mixes in freeze-dried shallots, ground Mysore green peppercorns, dill weed, freeze-dried scallions, French basil, French tarragon, French chervil, finely minced parsley flakes, and ground Muntok white pepper.

I like the McCormick Thai spice blend, JeffS. And I also love their steak seasoning. Why their blends are so much better than their regular spices I don't know. Because Penzey and Vanns are still better for regular spices.

BTW for those who aren't ashamed to love the ramen - try the McCormick Thai spice with your other additions. Very good indeed!

I'm with you, Hal. Plain ole Utz in the red bag are the best. If you're a heathen then I am too!

I *am* a heathen, but I prefer Grandma Utz. Lard for the win!


We heathens must stick together.

The Utz chips may be fried, but they don't have any barely-pronounceable preservatives or flavorings in them (at least the red bag ones don't). Just potatoes, oil, and salt.

Lissa and LEC, I agree. Utz's are good but Grandma Utz's are better-- of course it's because of the lard. Everything is better when touched by the pig.

How long does it take you to eat 8 lbs. of chips Bucky?

How long does it take you to eat 8 lbs. of chips

All junk food comes in single serving containers, so about 1.5 movies if it is in one box.

Bucky, chip pounds are actually several ounces lighter than meat pounds, right?

JeffS, Bucky and Lissa or as I prefer to call them "my fellow lard-lovers" need to try this. I learned a long time ago the only way to make the best roasted potatoes was to heavily smear the skin with lard. No butter, no oil just good ole lard!
On my last trip to the grocery, I couldn't find the lard so I asked an employee for assistance. The poor guy just looked at me like a deer in the headlights and proclaimed "Lady, that stuff will KILL you!"
P.S. If you make them, cut them in half lengthwise and make plenty because they are even better the next day, cold, as a snack. I try to limit myself to make these only on holidays cause like the kid said.....

How long does it take you to eat 8 lbs. of chips Bucky?

Not as long as it might seem...Mrs. Fishers has a cult following here (Illini and Badgers who have moved to the mountains) which is how I found out about them in the first place. So the 8-bag cases I order usually get divided among a few people.

jl - it depends on if the chips are Choice or Prime and if they have been dry-aged.

Lone Lady, that does sound good. I'm out of lard right now (the sooner the JFX market starts, the happier I'll be - I'm out of beef, too), but I can't wait to try that.

Do you smear the skins, then pop them on a baking sheet so you don't end up with lard flambe? How about salt? I bet if you chopped garlic and mixed it with the lard, then let it set overnight before the smearing, it'd be really good.

I remember my grandmother, who was originally from Texas, complaining to her sister that she could not find lard in California. Sister Hazelle gave her a great big tin of the stuff, and I think it was Nan's favorite gift ever.

Growing up, my mom used old, Esskay lard tins to store our Christmas cookies during the holiday season. One would have figured that the use of lard tins would have provided a visual or perhaps metaphorical deterrent from gorging oneself on Toll House cookies. Alas it did not.

RoCK, you can make fine, fine cookies with lard. A quick google should bring up several recipes.

Remember our earlier discussion on lard? You could have lard sandwiches, a WWII-era staple. At least that is what I heard what life was like then. Thanks be, since we only had to endure hot dog casserole during Viet Nam. My mom made it only once, yet us kids still kid her about it all these years later.

This surprsied me: lard has a lower saturated fat content than butter.

PCB Rob, "lardo" is common in Italy. It's made by curing strips of pig fat with rosemary and other spices.

The most famous lardo is probably that of the northern Tuscan hamlet (snork) of Colonnata, part of the larger city of Carrara, which is famous for its marble. Traditionally, lardo is cured for months in basins made of this local marble. It is now an IGP (Protected Geographical Indication).

You can find it on menus all over Tuscany, served with bread as an antipasto. Many small town butcher shops make their own. It's similar to very rich butter, but with a delicious twist.

YP, I think we really, really need to go on a lardo tasting field trip. How's 4 pm for you?

Wow Lissa you are truly a lard roasted potato genius. I never thought of mixing the garlic (even though I love garlic) with the lard. I will try that on the next batch. I do use a baking sheet and crank the oven to 450, let em go about 40 minutes. The salt & pepper I let people do themselves after roasting so as not to offend anyones taste buds...EL knows what I mean!

Great "snork," YumPo! I can see you really get into all things porky.

I assume Hamlet is your favorite play by Shakespeare--no?

Sounds good, Lone Lady. I'll get some lard when the JFX market opens, and give it a whirl.

Hmm...sweet potatoes would work, too, I sprouts...fingerling potatos....carrots..onions...oh, man! Thanks for the ideas!

Lissa, pack your bags and grab your passport!

Very good, Dahlink. Strangely enough, as I mentioned in a previous post, I am "eh" about most (Easter) ham. Plus I'd be pleased if I never had to eat fried pork rinds (the ones sold as junk food) ever again: one of my uncles tricked me into eating them when I was very young by convincing me they were corn chips. I believed him until I noticed THESE corn chips had bristles sticking out of them. Traumatized for life.

Thanks for the info on lardo. Never heard of it.

You truly are the Sandbox Pork Expert!


Fried pork rinds are excellent! Especially the fresh ones I've seen outside of Cabela's on occasion. I grow bristles, eating one or two isn't going to kill me.

Do you think you can tell something about someone based upon their favorite Shakespeare play? I'll go first. Mine is Lear. I like storms.

The Russian people (at least according to Andrew Zimern) enjoy eating lard too.

And, for some unknown reason, dogs REALLY love pigs ears!

Just my couple of porky facts.

Owlie, my advisor at college named his daughter Cordelia.

I thought that a most interesting choice.

My favourite Shakespeare play depends on mood (as does just about everything else), but I'm particularly fond of Titus Androticus these days. Probably because it is an election year.

Dahlink, my dad cooked me a half-pound of bacon with two eggs over easy every Sunday morning from the time I was very young until I left home to go away to school, so I had an early start in loving porky goodness.

Joyce, my dogs loved pigs' ears too, too much. (Who could blame them?) Sadly, I had to issue a ban on pigs' ears to allow harmony to return.

Lissa, I'd eat fresh fried pork rinds vs-a-vs the ones sold in the junk food aisle. As a four year old, any weird food, especially if it grew bristles, was suspect.

OMG and Lissa, my favorite is Titus Andronicus as well, then Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing tied for second. Must mean something.

I recall seeing a travel/food show several years ago where they fried entire pork skins. Must have been 2-3 square feet each. I think it may have been Mexico.

Taming of the Shrew for me, gang!

Was just reading about an avant garde drag production of Shakespeare's sonnets in Berlin.

I wonder if they'll bring it to Baltimore?

The Sottish Play, of course. Witches, Birnam Wood, and Lady Macbeth. What's not to like?

RayRay, now that makes my mouth water! Completely different than those alien things in the cellophane bags next to the REDD HOTT!!!CHEEZ-FLAVR BEEF JERKY, the Swisher Sweets, and the Copenhagen.

The Sottish Play? Is that the Macbeth drinking game, Laura Lee? Let's see...everytime you don't understand a word, you drink?

MacBeth is also one of my tops. For some reason I always thought of it during the Clinton years. I do not know why.

If you want to see a really funny movie parody of MacBeth, get Scotland PA. It's about an ambitious woman who works in a small burger joint in rural PA in the early 70s. She convinces hubby to murder the owner (death by fry-o-lator) and start an unheard-of drive-thru window. Moira Tierney plays the wife. During the murder she burns her hand on fryer oil and spends the rest of the movie trying to heal it, eventually wearing an oven mitt around town. Plus Christopher Walken as a vegatarian detective (Lt. MacDuff) and Andy Dick as a Fairie.

I'm most partial to Mechant of Venice, perhaps because I saw the RST perform it in Stratford.... also loved the local Center Stage production of As You Like It.

Shakespeare plays are meant to be seen, not read. Schools really should not torture students with reading the stuff unless they're also treated (probably first) to a good production that shows its charms and wisdom.

I've never seen Hamlet, probably the most readable of the plays, but people hiding behind curtains is classic. Hamlet probably has the best life lessons in it.

Ah, yes. The Scottish Play. Among thespians and other theatre folk it is held that saying the name of The Scottish Play aloud in the theatre will bring bad luck. Don't know how this came to be but it is widely believed. And many people can tell you specific examples of what has happened. Maybe it has something to do with ghosts. Maybe to do with Witchcraft. Don't know myself, but I have learned not to take the chance of offending someone or something by saying other than "The Scottish Play" when in a theatre.

Seems like Dave is in the run to lose another blog literacy competition, should he choose to engage.

People who measure themselves often are generally deficient in imagination and outcome.

Although I've seen a Broadway or off Broadway production of Taming of the Shrew (no, not Kiss Me Kate), it was the Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton version that did it for me. I think their personal lives carried over into the acting of this lesser known of thier films. It's highly watchable should anybody be able to find it - haven't seen it in years!

Laura Lee, speaking of the Scottish play
(and back to the Power of Three!) I just finished reading "A Charmed Life : growing up in MacBeth's Castle" by Liza Campbell. I thought it was very well written, amusing and also very sad, as Liza's father, the former Thane of Cawdor, was rather bad and somewhat mad. Did you know that the castle was built around a holly tree to ward off witches?

Bourbon Girl, when I was flying a reference desk, I shocked more than one parent by handing their kid a movie when they asked for this or that Shakespeare play for school. This is generally after chewing the same kids out for wanting the movie version of this or that book.

I'd explain that these were *plays,* you watch them. Then you can go back and read, if you wish (and you should), but if you don't know who the different characters are and you've not heard the poetry of the words, it'll be a dull and off-putting slog.

I mean, really, what HS kid wouldn't love the Tavener (IIRC) production of "Titus Androticus?"

Thanks Dahlink! I just read the one-minute-review and it looks like another one for the bedside table. Plus, I'll never look at a fern in quite the same way.

Just finished my first ever P.G. Wodehouse book "Uncle Fred in the Springtime". You know who I was thinking of the whole time.

Lissa, so true. That version blew the minds of a roomful of people.

I think an even better school project would be to read a Shakespeare play and then perform it. Not in class but on a real stage with a real set, real lighting, and, most important, a live audience. Had a homeschool group put on "A Midsummer's Night Dream" last month at my theatre. They even gave two "educational" performances for other students where, afterwards, they led a discussion of Shakespeare's life, time, language (and the different meaning some of the words had back then), and history. The parents went all out and built a totally awesome set. Made me proud to be a part of it.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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