If you were going to package the essence of Nashville into a box, what would you choose to put in there?
When you live somewhere as vibrant, interesting and entertaining as we do, it seems logical enough that you might want to share that energy with folks you love, via a gift. And, luckily enough, several companies offer more than a few variations on the idea of sending Nashville in a box — Batch and High Note Gifts are two good examples.
Those folks do a fantastic job of curating locally made items and packaging them up in cute, giftable boxes. But what if you were drawn to going the do-it-yourself route, to make a little burst of Nashville that was exactly your vision?
As we’re gearing up for gifting season, we’ll share our vision of Nashville in a box, in two parts. In this post: quintessentially Nashville, with items that we think give a time-tested glimpse of Nashville culture. Then to follow up next week, we’ll tackle New Nashville, with stuff that’s of the moment, during Nashville’s ongoing “it” moment.
Let’s start here:
A quintessentially Nashville gift box
1. Goo Goo Clusters
It’d be fair to call these the unofficially official candy of Nashville, right? They’ve been made here since 1912, and given what’s in them — milk chocolate, caramel, peanuts and marshmallow nougat — they’re pretty impossible to resist. Since we’re aiming for quintessential, best to go with the original flavor. (Available lots of places, or $4.29 for a pack of three via GooGoo.com.)
2. Loveless Cafe biscuit mix
Countless outlets, including Food & Wine magazine, have listed the Loveless’ biscuits among the country’s best. Biscuits being biscuits and Nashville being Nashville, you’d have a hard time concocting an effective quintessentially Nashville gift box without something representing. Snag a 2-pound bag of the Loveless Cafe’s biscuit mix, based on the secret recipe those folks have been using since 1951. Your gift recipient only needs to add buttermilk, bake and enjoy. ($7 via the Cafe, 8400 Highway 100 Nashville, TN 37221, or LovelessCafe.com.)
3. Hatch Show Print poster
Visually speaking, you’d have a hard time finding something more quintessentially Nashville than Hatch Show Print, who’ve been creating beautiful letterpress prints here since the late 1800s (including creating posters for Nashville’s local and visiting music makers). Their Rodeo print — designed for Madison’s WENO radio station after World War II — might be the best-known Hatch imagery there is, too. They’re still printing these great posters, so it’s easy to send someone you love an enduring picture of Music City history. ($85 via Hatch.)
4. WSM guitar pick
Without 650 AM WSM, Nashville wouldn’t be the city it is with the culture it has. The station traces back to 1925, and brought us the Grand Ole Opry, blasting country music — and Nashville — into the stratosphere. A fitting piece of WSM to gift, we think: this guitar pick. Probably several (those things get lost easily). ($1, via the WSM store.)
5. Manuel belt buckle
OK, we’re going big here, because it’s what Manuel would do. If you live in Nashville, you know Manuel. If you don’t know Manuel, good chance you’ve seen his work: “He was responsible for making Johnny Cash the man in black. He crafted Elvis’ signature gold lamé suit. He fashioned the garments Bob Dylan wore when performing for the Pope. He has dressed all four generations of Hank Williams.” Big, bold and sparkling, the work of the “Rhinestone Rembrandt” is definitely quintessential Nashville. Since he is who he is, and all of his creations are custom, a Manuel piece doesn’t come cheap. But if you have someone in your life who’s due a splurge, there’s always the option to have Manuel do a custom take on this leather belt buckle with Swarovski Crystal Rhinestone detailing. (Starting at $450, 615-321-5444 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
6. Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery’s Belle Meade Bourbon
A lot of folks outside Nashville may think of names like Jack Daniel and George Dickel first when they’re talking about Tennessee whiskey. But in the late 1800s, the big name was Charles Nelson, of Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery. Although the distillery closed in 1909 in the wake of statewide prohibition, Nelson’s grandsons, Charlie and Andy, reformed the business 100 years later, and today, are making and bottling their namesake bourbon, white whiskey and sherry. For this quintessentially Nashville gift box, let’s go with the classic: Nelson’s Belle Meade Bourbon. (Available in lots of places.)
So, Nashvillians, what would you add? Any glaring quintessentially Nashville omissions? We’d love to see your suggestions.