5 Chicago-made products worth buying

From an early age, I’ve always supported local companies, whether in New York (e.g. Boylan) or Buffalo (New Era), and I continue to do so in Chicago.

If I can choose between one of the products below and a competitor’s product, I’ll support the local guys — not just because they’re local, but because their stuff is just better:

1. Stewarts Coffee

Now, I’ll spend $4 on a coffee if I’m out at a coffee bar, but if I want to brew something quickly at home using my coffeemaker, using pre-ground beans — I also have a French press, mind you, for freshly ground beans — I’ll make Stewarts Coffee.

Stewarts has some great blends, including the original Private Blend and Colombian, which are both much better than other pre-ground coffee brands.

Basically, Stewarts Coffee is the best you can get out of a can, and you may actually be surprised by how good it tastes. (NOTE: Intelligentsia and Metropolis are good, albeit more pricey, coffees.)

(Stewarts Coffee on Facebook)

2. North Shore Distillery liquor

Check out high-end bars and speakeasies around Chicago and you’re bound to find North Shore on the menu. NS has been a large part of the Chicago spirits community for a few years, as they’ve cranked out everything from vodka and gin to absinthe (Sirène) and aquavit. Their stuff gets good ratings, and there’s even a Distillers Club you can join for special events and samples.

(North Shore Distillery on Twitter)

3. Field Notes notebooks

If you like Moleskine notebooks, you’ll like Field Notes. The company, founded by Chicago entrepreneur Jim Coudal, makes snazzy-looking notebooks of all types and >colors. Order them online or at a local retailer.

(Field Notes on Twitter)

4. Blistex lip products

I don’t need any flavored or fancy chapstick or lip balm. When my lips are chapped, I want something that’ll un-chap them quickly.

Blistex isn’t artisanal, nor does it have a sexy name. But it works, and that’s why I’ll support Blistex.

(I couldn’t find Blistex on Twitter, but if I could, would you follow them?)

5. Vienna Beef hot dogs

When I first moved to Chicago about five years ago, I had never even heard of Vienna Beef. Nor had I given any thought, really, to the quality of the hot dogs I grill.

My Chicago-born fiancee, Mollie, and her father changed that. They made me eat Vienna. And for that, I’ll be forever grateful. I don’t know whether it’s the Vienna Beef spice blend, or just the fact that their hot dogs look less…gray than the competitors. Either way, they’re just better.

(Vienna Beef on Twitter)

Are there any Chicago-based brands YOU support, whose products you buy regularly? Please leave your thoughts as comments below!