On movie nights, Alexander Harik and his mother, Lorraine, would feed family and friends a beloved snack: popcorn topped with her secret blend of za’atar and other complementary kicks—feta, spicy chiles, and thyme. Now, their Zesty Z popcorn is available nationwide, including on Mouth.com, where it sits pretty next to an ever-evolving bounty of snacks, drinks, and candy from indie food makers across the United States. Mouth sells these treats on their own, in themed monthly subscriptions, or boxed into build-your-own gift baskets.
Each item on the food site is vetted by Mouth cofounder and president Nancy Kruger Cohen and her New York team. Cohen originally founded her company in 2012, before reinventing it in 2018 as a purveyor of artisanal foods, for which she scours the U.S. (Regarding the popcorn: “I can’t stop eating it,” she admits.)
Cohen, a former art director, pays close attention to packaging design, imagining items as they might appear in gift baskets or an entertaining setting. Mouth tests around two dozen products in its bimonthly meetings. The tastings tend to be grouped by category—pitting, for example, a group of small-batch chocolate bars against one another—and the entire company is invited to weigh in.
The food maker’s story is important too. Cohen says she notices a common thread for many makers: a delicious family recipe or hobby leads to an “aha” moment when someone inevitably tells the person, “Hey, you should sell these.”
“It tends to evolve until they’re quitting their day job and running a full-time business,” Cohen says. An upside of this success story, she adds, is that many women and family entrepreneurs have emerged in the small-batch food industry.
“When we started the company, my kids were really little, but they could understand it. It’s something that’s nice to share. My kids give me their opinions all the time on what they want to try, what I should bring home, what their favorite products are,” explains Cohen. “I think that’s true for a maker. A lot of these stories are really familial.”
Throughout the holidays, Mouth has seen an uptick in gift-box orders. Cohen attributes this to a lack of holiday gatherings and office parties. Offerings like the Holiday Cocktail Box, which includes everything you need to make festive drinks sans booze, have provided managers the tools to host a simultaneously engaging cocktail hour via Zoom.
The only problem is where to begin shopping: The selection on Mouth is dizzyingly robust. To help you navigate the site, we asked Cohen to share some of her favorites, and we’ve included some of our own.
Doux South Pickled Cherry Tomatoes
Cohen said she’s a big fan of what she calls “off-beat pickles”—not your average cucumber and dill. Think pickled carrots, peaches, and brussels sprouts. She recommends the Doux South’s Pickled Cherry Tomatoes that she includes on the Friday night cheese boards she makes for her family. “They’re really delicious and pop in your mouth,” she says. “They have mustard seeds and a slight Southern flavor to them. I set them in a little dish on the board, and it’s nice because there are no olive pits.”
Hot Chocolate Gift Kit
Each year, Mouth works to find the best maker-made hot chocolate. This year, the site’s Hot Chocolate Kit features Bang Candy’s Cocoa Mix from Nashville, alongside Mouth’s own hot chocolate on a stick (Chocolate Meltdown), Wondermade’s Peppermint Marshmallows, and other cozy accoutrements. Cohen adds, “I love sending it to a special teacher for my kid or to my niece who lives across the country.”
Indie States of America
Another option from Mouth is a subscription for monthly artisanal selections, such as the Indie States of America, each featuring snacks and treats made in a new state or region. Cohen said, “People aren’t traveling as much, so it’s a way to take a road trip that’s delivered to your house.”
Cheesy Gift Box
If you’re lacking Cohen’s cheese-board skills, I like the Cheesy Gift Box (which you can upgrade to a Super Cheesy Gift Box, if you really like them), which comes loaded with expertly picked cheese, crisps, jam, and nuts for an extra-impressive spread.
Holiday Cocktail Kit
Send festive cheer(s) with the Holiday Cocktail Kit, featuring my absolute favorite: Bittermilk’s Gingerbread Old Fashioned Mixer. Also inside: several seasonal-inspired mixers, Alpine Tonic, and bourbon-soaked cherries.
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