Last month (via Twitter) I discovered the Foodie PenPals program. It’s a fabulous grass-roots effort created by Lindsay of The Lean Green Bean Blog. What started as a small group of friends exchanging boxes has grown to over 200+ participants in the U.S. & Canada for February 2012. Participants are randomly matched each month and sent a spreadsheet of the month’s match-ups. As a member of Foodie PenPals, you agree to ship a box of your favorite things (regional or not – it’s your choice) within a set price limit to the person who was selected as your match. In turn, another participant will be given your name and will be sending you a box. All boxes are shipped before the 15th of each month, and all participants who blog agree to post a story on a designated day at the end of the month. Foodie PenPals is not just for bloggers, however. Anyone may be eligible to participate. In my case, my first match is not a blogger, so I’ll be sharing what I sent her as well as what I received in this post.
Participants are required to contact their match to arrange for a shipping address, as well as to find out if your recipient has any known food allergies or restrictions. After that, you’re off to shop for whatever you think your Foodie PenPal might like. I was very fortunate. My first match was Jacqueline from Kentucky. She had no food allergies, and pretty much likes a lot of the same things I do. She was a dream match and fantastic to work with. I did accidentally slip up and send her some jalapeno-stuffed olives after she clearly stated in her e-mail that she doesn’t like olives, but that was entirely my fault. When I was packing her box, I grabbed them from my pantry on a whim so she could try my Mexican Martini recipe. Luckily, she took it in stride and graciously explained that she had friends who would love them. Awesome!
Here’s what I sent to Jacqueline:• 1 bag of my favorite chocolate chips – Guittard extra dark chocolate
• 2 bags of flavored coffee from two Texas coffee companies I love & support
• 2 cans of chilies – poblano peppers (mild to medium heat) and chipotle (hot)
• 1 jar of jalapeno stuffed olives (because sometimes I’m a bonehead)
• 1 jar of our favorite BBQ sauce from the Salt Lick BBQ in Austin, TX
• 1 box of our favorite rice – grown 20 min from us (sent box, not tub)
• 1 jar of homemade red plum jam I made this spring
• 1 small bottle of local Texas hill country honey
• 1 bag of pupper treats for her dog Lucy – from our Ziggy
Here’s what Jacqueline had to say about her box:
Thank you so very much for my wonderful box of goodies! Everything arrived safe and sound, and I’ve already killed some of the coffee. So delicious. And I will be all over the jam in the morning. I am so excited to dig in, and I think my first outing with the foodie penpals has been a success! Thank you SO much!
PS. Lucy’s sending lots of love to Ziggy for her awesome treats!”
Here’s what I received from the girl who received me as a match:
Kayla from Sprouty Buns Blog sent me my first Foodie PenPals box, and it came just in time for me to share the contents with our two grandkids – Jonah Bear & Lilly Bug – as we went to Austin to watch our daughter run in her first half-marathon (which, I’m happy to report, she finished with a smile on her face and a time of 2:39:49. Go, Baby, Go!). It was an awesome weekend.
The kids got to share the Lara Bars, Justin’s Peanut Butter samples, and the animal crackers. The wasabi-coated dried edamame and the oatmeal crisps stayed home. I’m willing to share, but not when it comes to wasabi edamame or peas. I love those blazing hot little suckers! (Actually, I did try to share them with The Complete Package on Saturday night, but he said they were too hot for him. So I guess I do share occasionally. Rarely. Sometimes. Whatever.)
The oatmeal crisps are fabulous, too. They’re great for snacking as is, but they’re even better with a little squeeze or mound of peanut butter on top. How convenient, then, that Kayla thought to include 3 peanut butter sample packs. That Kayla – she’s a planner.
As you can tell, my first round of boxes as a new member of Foodie PenPals was a roaring success. I loved my box of goodies from Kayla, and Jacqueline really seemed to enjoy her box from me. As a bonus, Jacqueline is now a new subscriber to my blog, which means this program brought two gifts – boxes of fun food AND new friends. If you’d like to join the fun, visit The Lean Green Bean Blog by clicking HERE and let Lindsay know you’d like to throw your name in the hat.
Remember, you don’t have to have a blog or even a Facebook or Twitter account. All you need is an e-mail and mailing address and an excitement to share your love of food with others. Will I see your name on the list next month? Will YOU be my next random match? How fun would that be? I can’t wait for next month!