Gas Station Munchies

Forget the platitudes. It’s not about the journey. Call us heretics, but travel is, yes, all about the destination. The question is, which one? Time on the road is a drag. Car games, playlists, podcasts — they’re distractions only. We drive so we can stop. And that’s what makes a good road trip — not the quality of the mixtape or even the final destination but the places in between. Indeed, the best road trips don’t even need an end; they can be routeless rambles from turn-off to pit stop to roadside stand. It’s those signless small towns, mom-and-pops, meeting halls, and market stalls we find in the road map’s nooks and crannies that truly make a journey memorable. Because when we stop, of course, we eat: farm-fresh produce, secret family recipes, local delicacies, grown-up junk food… treats befitting the weary traveler. This month’s crate is a tribute to those unexpected bites we find when we pull over. Take a detour and grab a plate.

Sea Salt Caramels // Le Caramel // El Cajon, CA

Forget the platitudes. It’s not about the journey. Call us heretics, but travel is, yes, all about the destination. The question is, which one? Time on the road is a drag. Car games, playlists, podcasts — they’re distractions only. We drive so we can stop. And that’s what makes a good road trip — not the quality of the mixtape or even the final destination but the places in between. Indeed, the best road trips don’t even need an end; they can be routeless rambles from turn-off to pit stop to roadside stand. It’s those signless small towns, mom-and-pops, meeting halls, and market stalls we find in the road map’s nooks and crannies that truly make a journey memorable. Because when we stop, of course, we eat: farm-fresh produce, secret family recipes, local delicacies, grown-up junk food… treats befitting the weary traveler. This month’s crate is a tribute to those unexpected bites we find when we pull over. Take a detour and grab a plate.

Lil’ Southern Heat Pickled Okra // Pernicious Pickling Co. // Costa Mesa, CA

There are pickles, and then there are pickles. As cheap unleaded is to premium high octane, so those gas-station counter top tubs of Chernobyl-green brine and mushy ‘cukes are to fresh-packed jars of snappy spicy veggies. Fill your tank with these: crackling sticks of okra, bright as the day they were plucked from local farms, revved up with Thai chili and habanero. Add pep to a desultory sandwich, mix into midnight shrimp and grits or a morning Bloody Mary — or snack right from the jar while you drive.

Pineapple Express // Bogey’s Beef // Mableton, GA

No road tripper’s center console is complete without a steaming coffee cup, dog-eared road atlas, and bag of jerky, all within easy reach. And while we’re loath to tarnish dear Rand McNally, and have a soft spot for sludgy diner decaf, we must draw a double yellow line at cheap gas station meat. Instead, we pack this. An obsessive marinade maker’s recipe, born in his stove top and dehydrator, Bogey’s uses super lean, high protein top round for an unconventional take on a traditional snack, chewy, salty, savory with the sour sweet kick of pineapple. It’s the best kind of road snack, with no crumbs to spill — and if you do, trust us, it’s so good you’ll pull over to find every last morsel.

Chocolate Bourbon Cookies // Grey Ghost Bakery // Charleston, SC

Named for a bit of low-country folklore and built on recipes just as storied, these cookies have a long history befitting the tangled backroad byways of their southern roots. So next time hunger haunts you, skip the gas station Little Debbies — stale in Saran Wrap coffins, they might as well be undead — and go for the ultra premium model. Inspired by the region’s famous Derby Pie, these munchies pack pecans, chocolate, and bourbon into road-ready bites, perfect to pair with your travel mug refill. Just don’t share with any ghoulish hitchhikers.

Sea Salt Caramels // Le Caramel // El Cajon, CA

One fortuitous meeting, one bite, one generations-old recipe — then, a year-long tour around France, a business plan, a cross-Atlantic move, and Le Caramel was born. It’s a long road from that first taste of a traditional French treat to this SoCal sweet, but the best caramels’ flavor lingers long after that final chew, and so this story is as epic as the candies’ taste is lasting. Serve to backseat drivers to keep their traps happily gnawing away — and out of your ear — or munch when weary behind the wheel to stay satisfied till the tank is empty again.

Clam Chowder // Seafare Pacific // Coos Bay, OR

Our cars are swaddling wombs, familiar and safe, airtight, sound-proof, stocked with the comforts of home. But when that rubber-sealed door silently slams shut, we travelers must leave home behind and live local. Or in our case, eat that way. When in Rome, artichokes and pecorino. When in Oregon, clams. But what if hunger hits before we hit the brakes? This coastal chowder is made to move: premium pouch-packed fish, sustainably wild caught from Oregon’s fertile fishing grounds, mixed up with cream, white wine, and spices, and ready to eat with zap in a rest-area microwave or quick boil on camp stove. Have car, will travel; have chowder, will travel well.

Ginger Bourbon “Slushee” Recipe Here

Charred Ginger Syrup // Mckeller Co. // Dallas, TX

Ah, the soothing joys of roadside elixirs — and we don’t mean the gas station fuel for empty tanks and weary eyes. No, we’re talking sweet: high-octane slushees cold enough to calcify eyeballs, or tooth-rattling sodas, a-foam with tummy-soothing fizz. Follow the highway-side neon signs, and the brews you find will likely be just as ecto-cooler vibrant. But take the dusty backroad, and you’ll find more wholesome fare, like this syrup, flowery sweet with the crackling bite and warming heat of fresh ginger. Mix with seltzer when behind the wheel, or booze when the driving day is done: shake a quarter cup syrup with twice as much bourbon, a splash of lemon, a handful of mint leaves, and ice.

Bahn Mi Burgers Recipe Here

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