Holiday Gifts from Bay Area Makers (Like Us)

Eight Great Reasons to Buy From The Bay Area

At The Baconer, we like to say we’re a 510 original. Most of you will probably scratch your head at that, but rather than saying that there’s five hundred of us or it being a secret code to something, it’s actually much more simple. 510 is the area code of the east part of the Bay Area, which is where The Baconer is located. We love Oakland, Berkeley, and the rest of the 510, and we particularly love the excellent homegrown products and food here.

We’re especially proud to support two awesome organizations: Bay Area Made and SF Made. They create an outstanding community of Bay Area Makers -- 510 originals like us, but also those in the 408 (San Jose and Silicon Valley), 650 (the Peninsula), and 415 (San Francisco). This is particularly noteworthy with the holiday season upon us.

Sure, it’s easy to go to massive online retailers and order things from the biggest companies in the world, but where’s the love in that? When you spend your holiday dollars at stores born and bred in your local community, that money stays there and supports individual artisans and crafters rather than being absorbed into a giant multinational corporation. And the products you get are usually cooler, more unique, and better made.

Of course, we’d like to tout our bacon -- it’s sourced responsibly, it’s prepared right here in the 510, and it’s freaking delicious. But we want to share the spotlight with some of our Bay Area brethren; they put a lot of TLC into making some of the loveliest, most kick-ass products around and we really, really, really think you should consider them when doing your holiday shopping. In fact, here are eight of our favorites (in no particular order because, you know, we’re not doing preferential treatment here). Spoiler: they're mostly food related. Big surprise, right?

#1 Oaktown Spice Shop

Do you love spices? If you’re shopping at The Baconer, the answer is probably yes. How did we deduce that? Well, we’re not Sherlock Holmes (as much as we’d love to be Benedict Cumberbatch). Heck, we’re not even Watson (as much as we’d love to hang around Benedict Cumberbatch while solving crimes). But our products are all about the bold new flavors we’re infusing into bacon, and that means using spices and blends. Now, logic dictates that we’d have to get those spices and blends from somewhere, and you’d be correct if you connected the dots between us and fellow 510 original Oaktown Spice Shop. Oaktown Spice Shop is, as you might guess, a shop filled with spices. Owned and operated by John Beaver and Erica Perez, Oaktown Spice Shop is the best-smelling store you’ve ever been to. Lined with glass jars and filled with all types of spices (mostly ground up John), it’s a foodie’s delight and culinary heaven.

#2 Lucky Dog Hot Sauce

Lucky Dog Hot Sauce comes from the Bay Area but it’s sold all over the country because it’s the best. Started literally in the backyard (and kitchen) of founder Scott Zalkind, this passion project became much more when Scott’s diligently crafted blend of spices produced something unique and delicious. Today, Lucky Dog’s line of sauces includes a range of flavors for foodies who want low, medium, hot, or “holy heck, my mouth is on fire, help!” super heat. The great thing about Lucky Dog Hot Sauce is that it complements all styles of food -- remember, it was developed by a foodie, so flexibility was definitely a consideration. In fact, Scott recommends you try it on just about anything that needs a little heat.

#3 Oakland Spirits

Ah, gin. Nothing goes with a good piece of artisanal bacon like high quality gin. No, seriously, a good gin is appropriate for just about any occasion. If you're having, say, our Bacetta, for dinner in a pasta dish, them a gin-and-tonic compliments the meal beautifully. If you're having breakfast with bacon and eggs, a range of breakfast cocktails with gin hit the spot. And hey, if you want to be hardcore and eat nothing but Jalapeno Bacon while doing shots of straight gin, who are we to stop you? (But please don't drive for a few hours afterward.) Whatever you choose, we recommend Oakland Spirits, the sister company of Two Mile Wines. Oakland Spirits has an incredible selection of gins, though they also offer seasonal brandy and are coming out with an amaro soon.

#4 Barlovento Chocolates

It's always a good time to give the gift of chocolates, but especially so during the holidays. When it comes to chocolates, there's always your standard options for boxes but we have a local favorite that is a cut above. Barlovento Chocolates is one of our 510 neighbors, but they're known around the country for their artisanal selections: truffles, bars, nuts-and-chocolate candy, and much more. Barlovento sells them in boxes of eight or dozens, as well as individual bars, hot chocolate mixes, and more. They're also available at Bay Area farmer's markets -- if you're local, you can make an online order and schedule a farmer's market pickup.

#5 Cowgirl Creamery

Just a guess, but if you came to The Baconer because you love the possibilities of bacon, then you probably also love the possibilities of cheese. If that's the case, then we've got just the thing for you: cheeses, cheeses, and more cheeses -- aged cheeses and fresh cheeses until you’re cheesed out (or cheesed off, har har). Cowgirl Creamery is renowned all over the country for their amazing cheeses, and they’ve got storefront locations Ferry Build and Point Reyes in San Francisco, as well as numerous farmer’s markets around the Bay Area. You can also take a tour of their factory or even join their cheese club. Because really, we all need to be part of a cheese club, right?

#6 Thesis Gems and Jewelry

Okay, so we've talked a lot about food here. I mean, it makes sense given that we've devoted our time, love, and immortal soul to the pursuit of bacon. But we do enjoy other aspects of life too, and that's where Thesis Gems and Jewelry come in. Shiny things are always great to look at when you're enjoying a bacon-powered meal, and Thesis excels at some of the shiniest, most impressive jewelry around. More importantly, they do it the right way, and founder Cate Claus is committed to responsible sourcing of gems, ensuring that you'll never feel guilty about where your jewelry came from when you purchase from Thesis. 

#7 Ketums

Ketums designer outerwear comes from all the way across the pond, in the land of fashion known as Paris. It’s also a bit of one of those bittersweet full-circle stories. The Smutek family ran a coat shop in pre-World War II Paris, but during the war, the family fled and the shop was destroyed. 75 years later, Daniel Smutek decided to revive the family legacy, this time in San Francisco. With manufacturing taking place right across the Bay Bridge in Oakland, Ketums coats are made in low quantities to ensure the highest level of quality control -- all in the latest designs that blend traditional elegance with fashion-forward looks. Durable, cozy, and sharp, we also totally dig the fact Ketums is, like many of the businesses mentioned above, dedicated to responsible sourcing and manufacturing. You’ve probably noticed a theme here, huh?

#8 Mother Sauce Shop

Our final stop on this tour of badass Bay Area makers is Mother Sauce Shop. Why did we pick this one? It wasn’t based on the advice of a numerologist (lucky number eight) and it wasn’t because we have anything for or against the number eight. Instead, it seems fitting given what Mother Sauce Shop creates: a clothing line inspired by the culinary arts. Named after the five Mother Sauces of French cooking (you knew that already, right? Of course you did.), Mother Sauce Shop was founded by foodies who also loved fashion. The result is a line of food-inspired clothing and gifts, from Mother Sauce puns on shirts to skulls that double as ramen bowls. If sports fans, music fans, and comic book fans can have their own t-shirts, why not foodies?

Think Local, Wherever You Are

We came up with this list because we wanted to highlight our Bay Area favorites, and we encourage you to do business with them as you make your holiday purchases. However, wherever you are, we also encourage you to take a look around at your own local scene. Clothing, food, drinks, and much more thrives in every community, and by buying from those stores, you keep the money within the local economy -- and seriously, the quality is so much better than mass-produced stuff. Got an idea for a kick-ass local store, Bay Area or otherwise? Drop us a line and let us know!