Massachusetts is a place that’s heavy with history. Whether you live here or are just visiting, it’s natural to want to break a piece of past experiences into a pocket-sized, take-home reminder.
Souvenirs are the easiest way to reawaken memories. When I travel, however, I like to find something meaningful, iconic, and lesser known. “I got it in Mass” doesn’t necessarily have to mean mass-produced — many products are born here. But if you’re tired of items like baseball caps and t-shirts with the letter “B,” “Cheers,” or “Hahvahd” on them, how about something a little different?
Roll the dice. Hasbro, the world-renowned toy company, holds the Monopoly brand within its massive portfolio of playthings at their plant in East Longmeadow, where they even made a rare Historic Boston Edition. If you can’t find that, go for Boston-opoly by Late for the Sky, which makes the city conquerable with a roll of the dice.
Get curious. Harvard Square has the notable distinction of hosting the world’s only Curious George store. This family business sells exclusive branded shirts, mugs, and stickers that you can get in the store or online.
An exclusive must-have. Louis Boston has been selling luxury merchandise since 1925. They recently moved from the historic New England Museum of Natural History in the Back Bay to a new location on the Waterfront. Though they source from designers around the world, Massimo Bizzocchi makes refined silk ties that are sold exclusively at the one store. The tag reads “Louis, Boston.”
Hold it. Brahmin is a family business that designs and manufactures classic handbags and accessories in Fairhaven. Their structured designs are intended to meet the discerning tastes of the original upper crust Boston Brahmins, for which the company name was inspired.
Switch gears. Seven Cycles makes custom bikes for commuters and racers in Watertown. Using 100 data points, custom frames are made in 4-10 weeks.
Sneak around. Buy a pair of New Balance sneakers, as they’re the only sneaker brand making shoes in Massachusetts, with two of their five New England factories located in Massachusetts (Boston and Lawrence).
Get creative. Etsy is a labyrinthine treasure trove of handmade items, and you’re sure to score something unique from the local sellers— perhaps you can meet them in person, too.
Make some symbolic noise. Zildjian Cymbals of Norwell is the oldest continuously family-owned business in the country. Avedis Zildjian was an Armenian chemist in Constantinople who started it all, creating cymbals from copper, tin, and silver in 1623.
Satisfy your cravings. Take a tour of Taza Chocolate of Somerville, one of the few chocolatiers that controls the process from the original bean to the finished bar. Revere’s New England Confectionary Co., or NECCO, is the country’s oldest multiline candy company that is known for Sweethearts conversation hearts, wafers, and candy buttons. The Hyannis factory for Cape Cod Potato Chips has hosted over 250,000 visitors annually.
Quench your thirst. Boston Beer Co. produces the renowned Samuel Adams lager and seasonal beers. Taste some of their best in their Jamaica Plain brewery just outside of Boston, if you’re of age.
These are just a few suggestions to start exploring some of Massachusetts’ local treasures! If you have suggestions, please share your own favorite local finds in the comments below.
April Gardner founded CultureClassic.com, which focuses on the rediscovery of iconic styles. She founded StyleMint in 2007 and works at ARGUS in Boston. For more fashion and culture, follow her at @cultureclassic and Like her page at Facebook.com/cultureclassic.