Let's think inside the box for a moment - the lunchbox, that is. Whether you're packing something for the school crowd or simply brown-bagging it at the office, South Carolina products are always in good taste.
Most grocery stores and farmers markets have everything you need to create your very own "loca-lunch." Just keep your eyes peeled for the "Certified South Carolina" logo or check labels to ensure you're getting the real deal. Here are some suggestions for crafting a mid-day meal with Palmetto State appeal.
South Carolina BLT & D
The first step in creating a South Carolina sandwich begins at the bakery, or market, where you'll find freshly baked rolls and loaves; choose something multi-grain for a sturdy sandwich that can handle lots of goodies. Layer your lightly toasted bread with crisp slices of Carolina Pride bacon (Greenwood), farmers market lettuce and tomato, and the "Big D" - Duke's Mayonnaise (Mauldin) - for that, lay it on thick.
Southern Chicken Salad Sliders
Don't let the dainty appearance of these fool you. There's big flavor and tummy-taming richness in each bite of these chicken salad biscuits. Begin with a package of nationally renowned Callie's Biscuits (Charleston). Find them in the freezer section of specialty food shops, order online or grab a package next time you're in the Holy City. Bake as directed, cool and spoon a generous amount of Duke Chicken Salad (Simpsonville, Easley) between each buttery square. The chicken salad spread, found in most grocery stores and made by hand, is the recipe of Eugenia Duke, the same woman who gifted us with Duke's Mayo back in the early 1900s. Thanks, Eugenia.
Try these sides to complete a South Carolina lunchbox:
Benne Baubles: South Carolina's favorite cookie is always a special treat, but its status gets a delicious makeover with a bit of embellishment. Southern Sisters (Summerville) and Olde Colony Bakery (Charleston) are two brands baking up these sweet/salty gems. Give each benne wafer a swirl of gourmet peanut butter, such as Stella's (Summerville), or a dollop of Duke Cream Cheese, Pineapple and Pecan Spread, then crown with a sugar-crusted pecan from Young Plantations (Florence).
Honeyed Honeycrisps: Late summer/early fall signals the season for Honeycrisp apples grown in Upstate orchards. Core and slice into juicy wedges, spread with locally made peanut butter, then drizzle with Kite Branch Honey (Patrick), Bee Trail Farm Honey (Lexington), Homer's Honey (York) or any of the many "Certified South Carolina" brands.
SC Scoops: Stuff celery with pimento cheese from Palmetto Cheese (Pawleys Island), Callie's (Charleston), John Brady's (Cheraw), or another state purveyor. You might also dip into a bag of Wallace's Pork Skins (Florence), for a sturdy, toothsome scoop for your pimento cheese, or keep an eye out in Lowcountry farmers markets for freshly fried rinds from Big Daddy's. Spicy-sweet peach salsa, made with Mac's Pride peaches from McLeod Farms (McBee), is another winning dip that goes great with rinds or tortilla chips.
Time-saving toss-ins: In a hurry? Single-serving packets of your favorite flavor of Young's pecans, Gillespie's peanuts (Hartsville), or those legendary "Worst in Town" legumes, Cromer's P-Nuts (Columbia) make a neat, satisfying snack.
Fruit forward: South Carolina-grown fruits are the perfect finish for your state-themed lunch. Depending on the season, there's sugar-sweet strawberries, blueberries and the tastiest peaches in the nation. And you can't beat a cluster of fragrant muscadine grapes for a mouthful of sweet Southern flavor.