Aug. 11 2014 04:37 PM

Vegan cookies, addictive toffee and more treats by SoCal companies

Salty Sisters toffee
Salty Sisters toffee

These days, there's a diet for every kind of lifestyle: paleo for crossfitters, Weight Watchers for the calorie-conscious, Atkins for the carb haters. There's also locavorism (or localism), whose only real "rule" is that you should consume your food within 100 to 150 miles of your house. Having been at this column for nearly a year now, I'm always advocating for buying goods and services from the people who live and work in your community. Food is no different. 

That said, I'm not here to tell you about our wonderful local farms and the organic strawberries and avocados and raw goat cheese that come from them. I'm here to tell you about the food that really matters—the stuff we serve at our backyard barbecues or grab handfuls of when we're sitting on our asses watching TV: snacks.

So, what's a would-be local snackalore (snackalist? snackalocavore?) to do? I set off to Whole Foods in Hillcrest, knowing that'd be my best chance of finding a lot of local brands in one place. I skipped my usual routine and walked slowly through every aisle, and I was genuinely surprised by the breadth of local products on the shelves. I mean, did you know that along that massive wall of protein bars—many of which are notorious for being chalky, dense and gross—is a company out of Irvine (Rise Bar) that's making the complete opposite of all that? I sure as hell didn't.

It's time to sit back, relax and possibly bust out your fat jeans—here are four snacks, all for less than $7, that you need to try right now. (I do not recommend eating these at the same time, unless you are pregnant. In which case, definitely do that.)

Uncle Eddie's cookies

The brand: Uncle Eddie's Vegan Cookies 

The snacks: Molasses and Chocolate Chip Walnut. Uncle Eddie is a badass, and I wish he were my uncle. Chewy Chips Ahoy was my only experience with store-bought soft-baked cookies—until I opened up these two bags and couldn't be bothered to close them. These have serious mouthfeel going on; the taste of brown sugar is unmistakable. You can also taste the freshness, and, unlike Chips Ahoy, every ingredient in here is recognizable. Don't even try to pull the "I don't eat vegan cookies, bra" excuse. Are you really going to make a stink about the absence of eggs and dairy in a baked good this good? 

Distance: 128 miles away in Glendale.

Is your mouth watering yet? Go to

The brand: Majestic Garlic 

The snack: Sundried Tomato & Jalapeño Spread. My head exploded when I tried this deliciously creamy and spicy dip / hummus / spread / thing, made with fresh raw garlic and, like, only three other ingredients (all healthful). It's so versatile that you could shmear it on a bagel in the morning and then let some chicken kebabs roll around in it later that night. It is, without a doubt, the best dip / hummus / spread / thing I've ever had. It's in the unassuming refrigerated salsa section of the chip aisle, which I've passed by many times and never bothered to stop. Until now.

Distance: 60 miles away in Murrieta.

Is your mouth watering yet? Go to

The brand: Sea Salt Candy Co. 

The snack: Claim to Fame toffee, the company's original and highly secret recipe, involves some magical mixture of sea salt, Chico almonds, dark chocolate and walnuts. And crack. I know there's crack in there. Also: You're welcome, gluten-free followers. I dare you to find a sweet treat better than this.

Distance: 38 miles away in Vista. 

Is your mouth watering yet? Go to

The brand: Tacupeto Chips & Salsa

The snack: Tortilla chips. The bag reads, "Crispy not crunchy." I'm not sure what that means (if anyone knows, hit me up). One of my volunteer taste-testers vigorously nodded her head in approval and said, "This is the kind of shit you get at a Mexican restaurant." Highest compliment ever? Boom. 

Distance: 34 miles away in Carlsbad.

Is your mouth watering yet? Go to

Got tips on local retail? Write to or follow her on Twitter at @polinjun.


See all events on Friday, Dec 9