You may not have heard of Mrs. Fearnow's "Delicious Brunswick Stew with Chicken" made in Richmond, but some people in southern Virginia would never have made it through college without it.
And the mere sight of Madame Evas hand-dipped, chocolate-coated caramels with almonds can do for some Virginians what the smell of madeleines dipped in herb tea did for French writer Marcel Proust -- arouse those childhood flashbacks that are the stuff of nostalgia.
These are just two of the made-in-Virginia delicacies that grace the shelves of Alexandria's "Virginia Vintage," a tiny neighborhood shop in Old Town specializing in food and drink produced in the Old Dominion.
Like so many other food retailers, the mother-daughter team of Mary Lankford, 51, and Mia Diaz, 24, has taken advantage of the growing popularity of locally made fare.
"People are very interested in what Virginia makes," said Diaz, who opened the store at the corner of Lee and Queen streets two years ago. She does business in the cozy, softly lit shop under a huge sign declaring "We have it made in Virginia."
The sign is part of a state campaign launched at the State Fair in Richmond in September 1983 by the Department of Commerce and Resources to increase consumer awareness of Virginia-made products. Telephone calls to the Richmond office promoting the campaign are answered with a cheery "We have it made in Virginia."
Nancy Maupin, assistant staff coordinator of the project, said surveys of grocery shops in the Richmond area found that sales of home-grown and home-produced products have increased from between 10 and 200 percent as a result of the state campaign. The products surveyed all wore "shelf-talkers" -- tags declaring "We have it made in Virginia," she said.
Chambers of Commerce in Northern Virginia launched their own "Buy Virginia" program last September, said Gail Blackly, public relations consultant to the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce.
When it began, "we were bombarded with people who wanted to buy Virginia products," said Diaz, whose shop carries such specialties as Hubbard's peanuts, Captain Jaap's spiced vinegar, Susan's Teas, Rowena's sweet basil jelly and First Colony Specialty coffee.
Lankford, who says she sends baskets of Virginia goods "all over the world," estimates that Virginia-made products account for about 25 percent of her shop's revenue.
There "very definitely" is a growing popularity of locally made products among consumers, said Sumpter Priddy, president of the Virginia Retail Merchants Association. Stores have seen their sales go up 15 to 20 percent since the Buy Virginia campaign began, Priddy said.
The products also go fast. Their first 10 cases of Chesbay, a beer made in Tidewater, was sold out in two weeks, even though it is a bit more pricey than nationally marketed brands. And, said Diaz of Grave's Mountain apple cider: "We can hardly keep it in stock."
Virginia-made products are available in many stores in the area, including some grocery store chains such as Safeway. Fairfax City's Little Red Wagon Country Store has "99 percent Virginia-made products," according to owner Susan Hall.
Many of the products, which also include cheeses, sparkling cider, maple syrup, coffee and preserves, are made by family-run businesses that have no distributors. "We deal with them directly," said Diaz. "We make a circle around and pick up items, usually at night."
At the back of the store are several shelves with a variety of Virginia-made wines, an indication of the state's growing vineyard industry. Many Virginians like the fact that they can now bring their friends in California, who for years have presented them with wines from that state, a bottle of wine made here, said Diaz.
And some people are even taking on a transatlantic challenge. "I have these German friends and I'm so sick of getting German wines, I thought I'd buy some Virginia wine for them," said one women who came in late one afternoon for a bottle of white wine.
"We have a lot of out-of-towners who want to take a part of Virginia back home," said Lankford. Buying a Virginia-made product "is a nice way to do it, rather than a T-shirt," she said.