Ordinary Items in the U.S that make for great souvenirs to bring back to Asia

It is just one week before I fly 24 hours back to Singapore for a visit, and I have been racking my brains over what to buy back for friends and family. It has to be something unique to Chicago or the U.S, preferably something useful and lightweight, yet affordable to me as well. I’ve finally singled out a few items:

1.Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter


I originally have no idea that Trader Joe’s cookie butter are so popular in Singapore (and maybe the rest of the Asian countries), until I chanced upon an e-commerce site that have many Singaporeans asking for travelers to assist in buying this butter for them when they travel to the U.S. The fact that Singaporeans are willing to pay a slight premium just to eat it made me decide to also jump on the bandwagon and get it as a souvenir for my family.

2. Adorable Tsum Tsums from Disney store

Disney happened to be having their twice-yearly sale, so I grabbed 3 boxes of Tsum Tsums at a promo price of about 9 USD each. So cute!

Everyone loves Disney products and especially Tsum Tsums which are a big hit lately. I only knew about Tsum Tsum’s existence recently and spent about 1 hour in a Disney store yesterday simply agonizing over which Tsum Tsum to get as a souvenir. Many Singaporeans are also asking for friends to help them buy Tsum Tsums in the U.S so I am guessing that they are either not available or a lot more expensive in Asian markets.

Therefore such Disney products will make as great souvenirs to bring back to Asia. There are Tsum Tsum bags, Tsum Tsum plushies, Tsum Tsum cups, so many cute stuff to buy!!! But they are quite expensive, one super mini Tsum Tsum is about 6 USD, equivalent to about 8 SGD. Exorbitant! Heng I found these boxes of Tsum Tsum at promotional prices, so I intend to split these up and give out as souvenirs, thereby saving about 3 USD per mini Tsum Tsum.

3. Tidbits unique to the U.S


To many Americans, Oreos in mint flavour, Ritz crackers and cheese dip, Lay’s potato chips in Southern and Biscuits flavour etc. are probably so ordinary that you won’t even bat an eyelid when you see it in the supermarket, but to many Singaporeans or Asians, they are really curious about how it taste. And because there is no such supply in Asian markets, such snacks become all the more precious. I often see Singaporeans asking for such tidbits online, even willing to pay a small premium for it. Therefore these make pretty interesting souvenirs too, especially if you are giving this “souvenir” to a friend who is a foodie.Only con is that tidbits take up quite a bit of unnecessary luggage space as they are not squeezable.

4. Art Paper Cubes from the Art Institute of Chicago


Given that I have been living in Chicago for the past couple of months, I feel that I need to get something that is more uniquely Chicago as souvenirs for friends. Yet, no one is going to appreciate Chicago printed mugs, t-shirts and photo frames when they are not the ones who have been in Chicago. Plus, these items are so touristy that you won’t really use them once you are back in your home country. (My “I Love Brunei” and “I love NY” t-shirts are still collecting dust back home in Singapore.)

I spotted these art-printed note pads sold in the museum shop in the Art Institute of Chicago and I thought they make pretty good gifts as they look artsy, classy and they are functional. Best of all, I got them during a sale!

5. Chocolates in Chicago tins


As gifts for friends, naturally I hope that they look presentable. I found such chocolate tins in Ghirardelli and I think they make pretty nice souvenirs cos everyone loves chocolates and it has a Chicago spin on it. (even though the brand originated from San Francisco) In fact, I am also intending to get a tin of chocolates from Fannie May’s Chicago collection for myself as well, so that I can keep the tin as a souvenir after I finish eating all the chocs.

Hope my friends and family will like it!