Each distinctly delicious and inherently Southern, these locally made goods deserve a tip of the hat.
This ginger- and citrus-scented soda is a Kentucky classic. Introduced in 1926, this 91-year-old recipe hasn’t changed since its inception. Generations later, Fielding Rogers, the company’s CEO and great-great grandson of Ale-8-One creator G.L. Wainscott, hand-mixes each batch every few weeks, using a handwritten secret formula. It’s rumored to be the unofficial beverage of anyone climbing Kentucky’s Red River Gorge, but we’ll pop a top off this classic any time.
2 MUDDY POND SORGHUM
Made by the Guenther brothers—Mark, Pete, and Eddie—in Monterey, Tennessee, Muddy Pond Sorghum is a sweetener from another century. This old-fashioned syrup is still made using traditional methods and horse and mule power. It’s great on biscuits, for replacing sugar in sweets such as pecan pie, or as a marinade for steaks.
3 ARABELLE’S DILLED ONIONS
Using her great-grandmother’s recipe, owner Sheridan Hinton makes these delightfully crunchy dilled onions out of Mobile, Alabama. This endlessly versatile condiment is not only great straight from the jar; we love them tossed with steamed Gulf shrimp and a drizzle of olive oil for a scrumptious version of a quick-pickled shrimp.
4 BLOOMERY SWEETSHINE
“We simply make stark-ravingly good liqueurs,” says Linda Losey, founder of Bloomery Sweetshine, a line of 10 all-natural, farm-fresh liqueurs distilled in Charles Town, West Virginia. They’re great alone (sip the Limoncello ice cold, straight from the freezer), or stirred into your favorite baked goods. The Black Walnut liqueur makes a flavorful substitute for vanilla in your favorite Bundt cake recipe.
5 LEAH’S PRALINES
Originally opened in 1933 under the name Cook’s Confections, this candy shop eventually found its way into the hands of Leah Johnson in 1944, who transformed it into the New Orleans landmark it is today. Their palm-sized pralines are still made the way Leah first made them—with real butter and fresh pecans stirred together in a traditional copper pot. If you can bring yourself to not gobble them up, they’re fantastic crumbled and sprinkled over pies and crisps as a topping.
Growing up in families of carpenters, Shane Schoenith and Wayne Bedenbender have a shared love of the beauty and character of wood. With help from Shane’s wife Ashley, they channeled that love and opened their Georgia-based woodworking company, Woodkith, where lumber that would otherwise be chopped for burning is transformed into pieces that tell a story with every knot and crack. Shane and Wayne use wood from all over the South, and even take trees from their clients’ yards to make boards that will be shared over tables full of friends and passed down through generations.
7 GEECHIE BOY MILL
From blue grits and Johnny Cake mix to classic yellow cornmeal, Geechie Boy Mill is giving this cornerstone of Southern cuisine the respect it deserves. Forget the bland grits lining supermarket shelves—this Edisto Island, South Carolina, company is using heirloom corn varieties and antique gristmills to give their offerings a quality, stone-ground flavor we can’t get enough of.
8 HOLY SMOKE OLIVE OIL
How do you give a olive oil a Southern twist? Nine hours in a cold smoker should do the trick! That’s how Charleston-based Holy Smoke transforms extra-virgin olive oil into their signature hickory-smoked olive oil. With a flavor like liquid bacon, it’s perfect in vinaigrettes or spooned over savory dishes. Holy Smoke also offers smoked honey—as delicious drizzled on fried chicken as it is stirred into a cocktail.
9 SOUTHERN CRAFT CREAMERY BUTTERMILK ICE CREAM
Southern Craft Creamery started making ice cream as a thank-you to their family-run dairy farm workers and friends in Marianna, Florida, and no flavor shines like their Buttermilk Ice Cream. Each spoonful is richly reminiscent of an ice-cold glass of buttermilk, but with an extra hint of sugary sweetness to perfectly complement the creamy, buttery taste.
10 VITAL FARMS EGGS
The best eggs come from pasture-raised chickens, but a steady supply wasn’t always easy to find before Vital Farms came along. Founded by husband-and-wife team Matt O’Hayer and Catherine Stewart, this Texas company set out to produce ethical food on a large scale. They have enlisted more than 100 family-owned farms to produce eggs according to their guidelines. It’s the antithesis of factory-farmed, caged-hen production facilities. And the cartons are pretty cool, too.
This small-batch jam and preserves company in Austin, Texas, turns out flavor-packed preserves, jams, and seasonings starring fruits and vegetables grown all over the Lone Star state. During the summer months, our favorite is the Bourbon Brown Sugar Peach Preserves—try them on ice cream or paired with cheese. The next time you’re in Austin, be on the lookout—owner Stephanie McClenny has a jam and biscuit shop in the works that’s sure to be a delicious destination.
12 LADY EDISON EXTRA FANCY COUNTRY HAM
Chef Sam Suchoff has taken his love of the whole hog to mouthwatering new levels by joining forces with curemaster Rufus Brown of Johnston County Hams in Smithfield, North Carolina, to cure these exquisite hams. Made from hogs sustainably raised on open pastures by local farmers and then aged 12 to 18 months, Lady Edison’s country-style hams have a rich flavor just waiting to be sandwiched in a buttermilk biscuit.