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5 Things: Product Features

Our marketing team has big plans for this new year and new decade, and among them is a goal to spotlight each of our various products on the blog. We hope you’ll enjoy deeper insights into our products—what makes them special and how best to enjoy them.

This week, we’ll direct you toward some of those product features we already have in circulation, beginning with the most recent.

Snack Sticks

From Bison Buddies to Smoked Salmon Buddies, the people love our snack sticks. At full stock, we’re pushing four varieties of these ideal grab-and-go snacks, but we’ve got plans to grow that list.

Eventually, the creative bug will hit Eric and the production team, and we’ll have new snack sticks joining the team, but until then, the above post has everything you need to know (and perhaps some question-fodder for things you want to know) about our sticks.

Natural Wines

The wine list in this blog is a bit out-of-date, given the new-ness of adult beverages in our deli (just barely over half a year), but in the above feature, you’ll find pertinent information about how and why we select our wine offerings. Natural wine is the key—organically and/or biodynamically produced wines with no added sulfites.

If last year is any indicator, you can expect a new line of seasonally-influenced wine choices every few months.

The Fish Basket

The fish basket isn’t all that complicated: your choice of Smokehaus fish in a basket with crackers and cream cheese.

It’s a winning combination, and one of the quickest items prepared by our deli staff—usually your fish basket is ready to serve by the time you’re finished paying for it. However, there are some clever workarounds and customization options that can help you get the fish basket (or smoked lake trout sandwich) of your dreams. Read the above feature to find out more.

Patricia’s Bakery

Patricia, once hired, quickly ascended into the role of baker-extraordinaire. Her sandwich-line skills are admirable (anyone who has enjoyed our Spring Roll sandwich has Patricia to thank), but once she began bringing in cookies, pastries and quick-breads, it was determined that her talents were misplaced.

We thought we had it good when longtime Smokehauser Jerry began making select batches of bread*—now all of the rye, white bread and ciabattas—but with Patricia joining the baking team, we’re now in the awesome position of having artisanal bread baked in-Haus, as well as amazing cookies, pasties, pizzas, scones, and much more available to us every day.

Check out the bakery blog, but really, just check out our selection of baked goods next time you’re in the deli, and ask anyone who’s working if you want to know more about any of the options: we have opinions, we have favorites, we will talk your ears off about which cookie to choose for any occasion.

*Jerry, I know you don’t read this blog, but I miss your rosemary potato rolls and cheddar-chive-chorizo biscuits.

The Adisalad

The Adisalad has been on the menu for just over a year. This ultra-flavorful vegan or pescatarian salad (‘kraut or kimchi, respectively) is the brainchild of Adison—dishwasher, baker, intellectual—who sought a healthier way to refuel at work, without sacrificing flavor. He brought it to Sandwich Lab, and it was so universally commended that we added it to the menu full-time.

We love carbs and fat—they’re our bread and butter—but they’re not always an option. With fresh greens, cabbage, our Haus pickled vegetable medley (daikon radish, carrot, garlic, onion, jalapeño, and more, with an exciting blend of spices), fresh cucumber slices, chopped Marcona almonds, and your choice of kimchi or sauerkraut, the Adisalad packs a punch of flavor and eating it feels like you’re doing your body a favor.


The Next Feature

Next Tuesday (1/21), we’ll have a lot to say in a feature of our newest deli case offering—smoked jerky! This week we snuck two awesome flavors of bison jerky into our meat case, and next week we’ll be adding sockeye salmon jerky to the mix. And that’s just the beginning.

Next 5 Things™, well, we’ll see—Patricia’s been up to a bunch of kitchen mischief with puff pastry dough and Country Pâté, we have impending remodeling of our office and storage spaces, we’ve got a tough-to-find(-in-Minnesota) cheese in our grab-and-go case, and our deli hours will be changing temporarily in February—that blog could go anywhere.

Until then, we love you forever.

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Product Feature: Snack Sticks

Snack sticks are great. NWS snack sticks are amazing. But don’t just take our word for it. Even with periodic availability issues (usually related to so many people wanting them!) they’re still among our top sellers. Around here, we call them Buddies.

Made by hand from the highest-quality regionally-sourced* meats, and thoughtfully selected seasonings and ingredients, these little buddies are great for sharing and snacking on-the-go. To the right recipient, a six-pack of these sticks is a perfect gift.

Need something quick and easy for a potluck gathering? Buddies. Heading out of town and searching for something travel-friendly? Buddies. Running out of cooler space, but craving that NWS fix? Pack a few buddies.

Currently, we have four snack stick offerings: Big Jims, Bison Buddies, Smoked Salmon Buddies, and Royale With Cheese. If (when?) we add more snack sticks to our roster, we’ll update this page.

*When possible. Sockeye and Atlantic salmon still live outside the Midwest.

Big Jims

Big Jim Hatch chiles are big peppers with big flavor! Growing 8-14 inches, and producing meaty pods with a mouthwatering sweetness and smoky medium heat, these peppers are the foundation of the adobada sauce that make these smoked beef and bacon sticks stand out.

Big Jims remind me of hanging around the kitchen while my mother sautéed pounds of ground beef and chopped onions with a packet of taco seasoning, sneaking spoonfuls whenever she stepped away from the stove. They’re great for any palate, with plenty of interesting spice, but a mild heat that won’t leave you sweating.

We like to serve Big Jims alongside Cajun-seasoned cheese curds and our hausmade cheddar crackers, but they wouldn’t be out of place on any snack platter. I’m dreaming of bites of Big Jims alongside crisp, sweet apple slices.

Bison Buddies 

Bison is the original North American meat source, and it’s on an upswing. It’s lean, mean, and green—environmentally speaking. Our premier snack stick features a 5:1 ratio of sustainably-raised, antibiotic- and hormone-free North American Bison, LLC chuck roast and Heritage Berkshire pork. 

They’re a NWS classic, with the perfect amount of snap, and a complex flavor that begins with a sweetness at the tip of the tongue, developing into a mild spice and the complementary tastes of bison and Berkshire pork dancing on the middle tastebuds, finishing with a light burn at the back of the mouth—thank you, paprika, cayenne, and red pepper flakes. All the while, you’ll enjoy hints of black pepper, coriander, garlic, and ground mustard.

Bison Buddies are perhaps best served as they come, eaten within moments of us handing them over to you, but their spicier side comes alive after some time under heat, which activates the various dehydrated peppers in their recipe. Or, if you’re feeling cute, buy yourself a can of Pillsbury puff pastry, cut the Buddies into thirds, and make yourself some Blanket Buddies.

Smoked Salmon Buddies

Save the deep-fried ground cod sticks for the kids. Our Smoked Salmon Buddies aren’t your average fish stick. Wild sockeye salmon (with just a touch of Atlantic salmon, for fat content) seasoned with ginger, black pepper, and coriander, make these a rare, but unforgettable, treat.

These salmon sticks shine alongside cream cheese or our hausmade Boursin cheese, and while they pique interest just as often for their peculiarity as their flavor, they’ve captivated the hearts and taste buds of many skeptics.

Royale With Cheese

Named after what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in France: It’s a bacon-cheeseburger in a stick! Ground beef, smoked bacon, and high temperature cheddar cheese form the base of this stick, highlighted by the savory combination of caramelized onion, pickle juice, ketchup, and mustard—smoked to perfection.

These rich and delicious sticks are great cold and on-the-go, but give them a few minutes on the grill or skillet, and wrap them in a large leaf of crispy lettuce, and you’ve got yourself the ultimate easy bun-free burger experience. We’ve done the math, and that equals more room for french fries!


All of our snack sticks are available as often as we can keep up with the demand in our deli fish and meat cases. Big Jims and Royales are $2/stick. Bison Buddies are $3/stick. Smoked Salmon Buddies are $28/lb.

Trimmings from the ends of the sticks are mixed up in 1-pound containers we call “Little Pals” and are available from our Grab & Go case whenever we have time to package them up.

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5 Things In The 2020 Hygge Gift Box

We could all use a bit more hygge in our lives. Hygge is a useful, if tricky to translate, Danish term describing “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being,” and it’s the central principle guiding our midwinter gift box.

At NWS, we believe that feeling of contentment and well-being can be found by reveling in the good things that surround us in our Northern home. We also believe that, in this workaday world, sometimes embracing hygge requires a little inspiration—just the gentlest push. That’s why we’ve curated this year’s box of local goodness aimed at providing you and your loved ones with the means for a cozy evening in.

This weeks 5 Things will take a closer look at exactly what makes up the 2020 edition of the Hygge Gift Box!

NWS Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon

Our Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon is buttery, sweet, and smoky. To many in our loyal customer-base, this smoked salmon is the taste of Northern Waters Smokehaus, and they’ll make a pit-stop in Duluth on their way North (or South) just to procure a piece. The centerpiece of every Hygge Gift Box is a half-pound slab of this delicious smoked fish.

Local Midwestern Cheese

Cheese is literally calming—it’s been scientifically proven! Beyond that, cheese just tastes good. We choose our cheeses with love and care, and you’ll feel it. Each Hygge Gift Box comes with a selection of one of our favorite regional cheeses, just like we sell in our deli.

Snooty Fox Tea

Nothing evokes “comfortable conviviality and … well-being” quite like tea. Local tea artisans Snooty Fox Tea Shop have provided us with an assortment of their most calming and convivial tea blends. Each Hygge Gift Box contains seven sachets of Gold Spice Rooibos, Boreal Forest Herbal Blend, or Sauna Steamer Black Blend. Enjoy life like you enjoy tea—sip by sip.

Epicurean Cutting Board

Epicurean produces top-quality cutting boards and kitchenware right out of our neck-of-the-woods. Our friends at the Epicurean Factory Outlet in Superior, WI provided the perfect utility tool for your curated hygge experience: A compact walnut woodgrain cutting board. This beautifully-crafted walnut board is the perfect size for a mini charcuterie platter featuring your smoked salmon and local cheese, and it will ingratiate itself as a favorite piece of kitchenware.

Blue Heron Trading Co. Dish Towel

For the final contribution from our local friends, we just walked down the hall to the Blue Heron Trading Company. This beloved kitchen store is not just our #1 source for replacement vegetable peelers and fantastic $1 cups of coffee, but also provided the final touch to your hygge experience—a hand towel! Whether you use it as a table-cover under your charcuterie platter, use it for clean-up, or both, this Blue Heron-branded towel will serve you well for years to come.

(Bonus Thing: Raincoast Crisps from Patricia’s Pantry)

A bonus for purposes of this blog’s allocated number of Things™, our resident baker savant Patricia has crafted these wonderful crackers especially for the Hygge Gift Box. Blending nuts, seeds, and dehydrated fruits with herbs and just a touch of brown sugar, the Raincoast Crisps are the ideal compliment to the included smoked salmon, cheese, and tea, and, with their nutritious ingredients-list, are virtually guilt-free snacking.


The Hygge Gift Box is now available exclusively online! Each box is tastefully assembled per order.

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5 Customer Favorites

Another lap ’round the sun is complete! To start off this blogging year, we’re going to linger a while longer in the previous year, looking at our all-around bestselling items—which to some might be quite obvious. To avoid clinging too dearly to the past, I will then attempt to work a preview of what to expect in the upcoming year into each section.

#1 — The Cajun Finn

No question here. Whether by sheer virtue of its flavor, or the potency of word-of-mouth advertising, this sandwich sells roughly as many units as the bottom half of the sandwich menu combined (a point for W.o.M.), and has repeat—and three-peat, and onward—customers (a major point for V.o.F.).

Fish sandwiches are among our most popular items overall, and come Spring of 2020, we’ll have a new one making a stop on our menu. Last year, for the Friends of the Boundary Waters Fundraiser, we auctioned off future naming rights for a limited-run fish sandwich to be featured on our menu.

So, right now, it’s in development and unnamed, but it’s highly likely to be a hit. A percentage of proceeds from each sandwich sold will be donated to Friends of the Boundary Waters efforts to protect one of Minnesota’s greatest natural treasures. With that in mind, perhaps all of the Cajun Fanns* could work together and turn the Untitled Fish Sandwich into our new bestseller. Delicious activism.

The Cajun Finn sold just under 15,000 units in 2019.

*Came up with this one on the spot, and now it’s canon. Y’all are henceforth Cajun Fanns.

#2 — Chips

Chips are a highly visible, relatively inexpensive side dish, and a great companion to a sandwich. Do you ever just mess around and throw chips right on your sandwich? I sure do.

The future of chips at NWS is exciting. At the end of 2019, a few boxes of new chips showed up at our proverbial doorstep for sampling. I can tell you from first- and secondhand experience that we Smokehausers enjoyed the new chips, and one particular flavor enjoyed a short run in our deli (perhaps with a longer stay to come). Beyond that, we’ve begun making moves to develop our own line of NWS chips. Ah, future goals—so uncertain, but so exciting.

#3 — Bison Buddies

The original Smokehaus snack stick reigns supreme. Bison Buddies are sweetly smoky, with a gentle kick of heat to the back of the tongue (a little less gentle if they spend some time on a skillet), and convenient to purchase and enjoy.

Bison is the better version of beef: leaner, more nutritious—high in protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and zinc—and, in most cases, raised without antibiotics and hormones.

Though our Bison Pastrami is now only made intermittently in small batches, the Great American Mammal still has its presence in our deli in the form of these snack sticks, and Corned Bison, one of our sandwich line meat options (and the superior choice for The ’06 sandwich).

The Pack Lunch—the launch item of an upcoming collaboration with our neighbors Duluth Pack—is a Corned Bison sandwich with a daring-yet-dependable cohort of flavors to enhance it. Stay tuned for more details about this exciting collaboration.

#4 — Big Jims/Royale With Cheese

Bison may be the better version of beef, but these beef sticks are not something you want to ignore.

The Big Jims (named after the Hatch Chiles that give them their distinct flavor) are my favorite snack sticks we currently offer.

Royale(s) With Cheese are our bacon cheeseburger-themed snack sticks. They’re replete with the flavors of beef and bacon (obviously), onion, pickle juice, and cheese (again, quite obviously).

Despite each of these snack sticks spending only slightly more than six months in our deli, the numbers don’t lie: they share the spotlight with heavy-hitters like the Cajun Finn and Traditional Atlantic Salmon, which had a full Sun Cycle to earn their place on this list. In their half-year of availability, each sold around 9,000 units. That positions them to outsell even the legendary Cajun Finn, if given a whole year.

Which is why I’m delighted to announce that Bison Jerky and Turkey Jerky should be hitting the shelves soon, with plans to experiment with other varieties after the initial launch.

Jerky has been a glaring omission in our deli for long enough, and given the recent success of our line of snack sticks—Smoked Salmon Buddies didn’t make Top 5/6 bestsellers, but they’re up there, and the smokers just finished a new batch!—Eric spent some time with his home smoker developing jerky recipes. Our social media pages are great places to stay updated on the launch of these new items.

#5 — Traditional Atlantic Salmon

Smoked fish is the reason we’re here, so it makes a lot of sense that it occupies a third of this list.

smoked atlantic salmon traditional style

Our Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon has a short and sweet ingredients list: Atlantic salmon, salt, and brown sugar. Alongside our signature kippering technique of smoking, which through a gradual increase of temperature throughout the process, forms a pellicle that locks in moisture, this simple combination of ingredients lets the delicious, buttery taste and tender consistency of Atlantic salmon shine through.

Uncertain quite how to tie in this final preview, the blogger proceeds as follows:

Last year’s monthly Sandwich Lab specials were a fun diversion, with varying levels of popularity and success. This year, we want to let the winners have a bit more time to shine.

In November of 2019, we came together yet again, sharing our pet sandwiches for peer review. Four have been selected to represent a new era of the NWS sandwich menu, and they will all join the menu together, for a handful of months. In addition, the overall favorites from last year’s cycle of monthlong specials—The Sebu-Chan and The Wagner—will be joining the menu full-time.

We know what you’re thinking: How will we fit seven-ish new sandwiches on that already packed board?

We’re working on it.