13 Food Gifts NOT to Give
Considering an edible holiday present? Before you hit the mall, check out this list of food gifts it's best to avoid.
We've all gotten them at one time or another: gifts of food that were
disappointing or misguided, even comical. Sometimes it isn't the gift itself
that doesn't work so much as the match between the gift and the recipient.
For example, I was the goofball who, with all the best of intentions, gave a
Starbucks gift card to a music teacher at my daughter's school. It didn't occur
to me that he might be a Mormon (see No. 7 in the list below).
Here's another example: I was once given dark chocolate as a gift, when
anyone who knows me well knows that I prefer milk chocolate. (The giver in this
instance happened to be my mother.)
So, with some personal experience and some tongue-in-cheek reflections on
gifts from Christmases past, here is my list of 13 food gifts NOT to give:
- Don't give sugar-free candies or chocolates to someone with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
or other intestinal issues. The sugar replacement often used in these products
is maltitol, which is only partially digested and absorbed. The part that isn't
digested tends to ferment in the intestinal tract and attract water. To someone
with diarrhea-predominant IBS,
having a few pieces of these sugar-free goodies can cause some "intestinal
issues". (As someone who has IBS, I can speak from sad experience.) We'll
leave it at that.
- Pay attention that you don't give tea with special properties to someone
whom it might offend. The Republic of Tea, for example, makes "Get
Lost" tea, described as "herb tea for weight control"; "Get it
Going" tea (for regularity); and "Get Gorgeous" tea (for clear skin).
- Be sure you don't give alcohol to someone who doesn't (or shouldn't) drink.
Even if someone has consumed alcohol in the past, they may now be avoiding it
for a number of possible reasons.
- Don't give those tins of stale popcorn to pretty much anyone. If it isn't
fresh, it isn't worth the calories.
- Don't give fruitcake as a food gift, because all the fruitcake jokes known
to man are bound to ensue moments after it is unwrapped.
- Don't give a gift assortment of dark chocolates to someone who is
passionate about milk chocolate (or vice versa). The same goes for giving
cream-filled chocolates to someone who is wild about nuts and chews.
- Don't give alcohol or anything with caffeine to a member of the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. These items are not in line with their
- If you don't know the gift recipient all that well, avoid holiday processed
meat gift packs (from gourmet catalogue companies) or other foods containing
meat, in case your giftee is a vegetarian.
- Don't give food gifts that include chocolate, peppermint or spearmint,
garlic and onions, coffee, caffeinated tea, citrus, tomato products, or chili
peppers, to someone who suffers from acid reflux.
- Don't give any food containing pork or pork products, or that combines
dairy with meat products, to someone who keeps kosher or observes Muslim
- Don't give peanut brittle, caramel apples, or candy canes to people with
braces. According to H. Dixon Taylor, DDS, an orthodontist in Concord, Calif.,
these are the three worst food gifts for someone with orthodontics. (And about
20% of Taylor's clients happen to be grown-ups.)
- To that friend of yours who is working hard to lose extra pounds, don't
give a gift card to The Cheesecake Factory.
- Don't give chocolate-covered insects to people who might be
"bugged" by it. I'm serious -- this actually happened to an
acquaintance's mom, and she was definitely not amused!