By Jake Fowler (Kitchen Curious Dip Correspondent)
You’ve gotten your dad the same squid ink pasta and Lavazza coffee combo from Eataly the last five gift-giving occasions. (Ok, maybe that’s slightly specific to me.) It’s down to the wire. You’re going to Target because, duh, it’s Target. It requires a weekly trip. He loves his seafood pasta from the big city, but this repetitiveness is decreasing the thought in “it’s the thought that counts”. That’s where the dip sampler basket comes in. Kirsten and Burke got me one for my birthday this year, and I loved it. It was a gift that literally kept giving for weeks. Beyond the delight my taste buds experienced, Burke said it’s the most fun he’s ever had at Target, and I enjoyed regularly updating Kirsten and Burke on my favorites as I progressed through the dip basket.
The Target dip gift basket is a pretty simple concept. Pick out 6-12 dips, provide a variety of complementary chips/crackers and then put everything in a fun vessel. The key is balancing some trusty classics with more sassy, special occasion treats. Based on my experience, here are the dips I’d recommend putting in your gift basket, power ranked in order of preference.
#1: Helluva Good Jalapeño Cheddar Sour Cream Dip
This is baby-making dip. I don’t 100% know what that means, but it’s unequivocally true, and it makes me feel zesty. Look at this picture on their website. It clearly tells you everything you need to know about this dip.
#2: Archer Farms Jalepeño Pimento Cheese Dip
This dip reminds me of this popular meme:
You know it probably shouldn’t be this smooth, but damn, it tastes soooo good. And once you get a taste, it’s hard to stop.
#3: Tostitos Salsa Con Queso
Whoa, that’s a high ranking for a Tostitos dip! There are more artisan dips in that basket, Jake. Yes, there are. I’m going to channel an argument here I often make when people complain about pop music and try to tell me about pop music and try to tell me about the underground hipster band making real music. There’s a reason it’s popular music. A lot of people like it. Because it’s good. It’s no coincidence on Target’s website the secondary image for this is a Tostitos bowl amidst musical notes. Forget All Cows Eat Grass to remember that Bass clef. Say hi to All Chips Eaten Gleefully.
#4: Gordo’s Mexican Cheese
For those Friday nights when you feel like fiesta-ing at Adobo Grill but then get sucked into Dateline on the couch. It’s a different type of cheese compared to Tostitos. Slightly more complex and fancy, yet not necessarily better. The choice simply depends on your mood.
#5: Dean’s French Onion
In real life, Dean is probably the most un-trusty worthy name a man can have, but when it comes to French Onion dip, Dean might as well be Tom Hanks (Reader’s Digest’s most trustworthy person in America for 2016). Dean’s French Onion is a classic and is a perfect palette cleanser for the other dips you’ll be eating.
#6: Archer Farms Feta & Roasted Red Pepper
This and the Jalepeño Pimento Cheese are the only two dips I’d consider from Archer Farms. They all try to take on dips your Aunt Faye would bring to the 4th of July, but lack that little bit of wholesome, home-kitchen love and chunkiness. They have a Joel Osteen quality to them (look and sound good but a bit too smooth and probably wouldn’t open the church for a dip/bake sale after a hurricane).
#7: Fritos Bean Dip
#8: Fritos Mild Cheddar
The Fritos dips are the GAP of the dip world. Solid basics. Sometimes the perfect undershirt puts the bow on your BoHo or you need a comfy Henley for brunch. Boom. Fritos dips are there for you.
#9: Tostitos Spinach Dip
#10: Archer Farms Taco Seasoned
These spinach and taco dips are trying hard but just don’t have the raw talent. It’s like watching your nice friend from the office at her level one Second City showcase. Everyone’s supportive and drunk and got in free and thinks their friend is funny at parties, but it’s abundantly clear Tina Fey isn’t up on that stage.
#11: Presidente Pub Cheese
I have nothing mean to say about this pub cheese.
#93: Archer Farms Buffalo-Style Chicken Dip:
Is it harsh to rank this dip the worst of the 93 Target sells without having tried all 93? No.
My spidey-senses were tingling immediately with the inclusion of “style” in the name. Then there was the celery. STOP INCLUDING CELERY IN BUFFALO CHICKEN DISHES YOU SAVAGES. This is literally on of my biggest pet peeves in life. Buffalo chicken is one of the universe’s greatest creations. It stands alone. Don’t force combine celery with it. Beyonce doesn’t harmonize with Karaoke Carol. Celery (and carrots) go with buffalo wings at restaurants to make you feel healthy and cleanse the palette. You don’t take the coffee beans at Macy’s cologne stand and rub them into your skin after spraying Cool Water on your wrists. A little nuance, cheese and rice!
In conclusion, the top 5 dips are non-negotiable inclusions in your gift basket. From there, I would cut off appropriately based on budget.
Chips/Crackers to include: Pretzel crisps, Tostitos Scoops, Ruffles and Fritos for a little variety work nicely. You could also do some restaurant-style tortilla chips if you’ve been to an Adobo Grill with the person and they generally go through a few baskets before the enchiladas come out.
Other considerations: Sabra Roasted Red Pepper Hummus and Caramel dip with some apples could be included if you want the basket to be “healthier” or include a dessert dip. You could also bounce one of the cheese dips to make the basket less cheese forward. I’m from Wisconsin so I enjoyed really breaking down the cheese dips. I’d recommend leaving out guacamole but if you must, include the Wholly Guacamole 100-Calorie Snack Packs since the convenience and low calories could potentially change their life.
There you have it. An original last-minute gift idea the food lover on your list will appreciate. Have a great holidays and New Year everyone, and hope to see you again on Kitchen Curious.
*This post isn’t sponsored by Target, but it could be 😉