Fourth of July celebrations and Ohio-made Longaberger baskets have long gone hand-in-hand, a pairing rooted in the Longaberger family's rich picnicking tradition.
"Every Sunday we would visit my grandparents at their farm, and when the weather was particularly nice, they would take me and my sister Rachel on a picnic," says Tami Longaberger, CEO and president of The Longaberger Co. "We would lay out the blanket and set up our food on a beautiful hillside overlooking the little town of Dresden and the Muskingum River. In reality, it was a small hill. But as a child, I felt like I was on a huge mountain overlooking a big town."
The Longaberger family began making handcrafted baskets in Dresden, Ohio (pop. 1,436), more than a century ago, and the company was founded by Tami's father, Dave Longaberger, in 1973. Since then, it has become a world-renowned producer of handcrafted baskets, pottery and other products. Many of Longaberger's products, from picnic baskets to lidded "gathering baskets," are ideal for outside meals.
Longaberger's favorite childhood picnic foods were the basics: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cookies, accompanied by lemonade or iced tea. As an adult, she still prefers simple, classic picnic fare.
"I'm all about sandwiches, good breads and cheese," Longaberger says. "I might throw in some antipasto and olives. Picnics can also be a time for all the family favorites to come out. My late Grandma Bonnie was a wonderful cook, and she was well known for her incredible pies and cookies. She passed that love on to us. Something about the Longaberger baked goods, you just can't pass them up."
Picnics, Longaberger says, are a chance to slow down, relax and unwind.
"There's no such thing as a fast-food picnic," Longaberger says. "There is nothing better than spending a little time sharing a picnic meal with someone you care about. A picnic is a simple pleasure that can add real joy to your life."