I have always said that my favorite part of travel is tasting all the snacks from other countries. The grocery store is a regular stop on all of my trips. In fact, the following picture from my trip to Australia just appeared on my TimeHop feed this morning:
I present you... the International Taste Test.
Choosing snacks was no easy task. WorldOfSnacks.com is a wonderful, amazing, super-easy-to-use website where you can order treats from all around the globe, HOWEVER, inventory when you're shopping for a large quantity (i.e. a library program), is limited. It's clearly not an insanely corporate operation over there, but instead a few people who are even more interested in snacks from around the world than I am. It's cool though. After a good amount of cart finagling, I wound up with a decent assortment of goodies from 5 different countries. Selected based on interestingness but also based on availability, I had goodies from Japan, Mexico, Korea, Italy, and Ukraine.
Here are the snack tables all set-up:
All the goodies came to the library in two big boxes. I made some signs and some flags for the tables (shown above) + some other signs to label all the different goodies that we had (although, they didn't exactly explain much, really). Then we cut everything into kid-size samples, and at 2:30pm, the flood gates opened! What a show!
We had approximately 75 patrons come to taste the goodies! Such great turn out! Everything disappeared quickly. First to go was the Purple Sweet Potato Kit Kats, followed quickly by the other flavored Kit Kats and then by the Hello Kitty Biscuits. So basically, the Japan table was a total hit. Leftover at the end were the Takis from Mexico and the Shrimp Crackers from Korea.
My love of foreign travel did not end here. The International Taste Test was only the kickoff to the Winter Reading Club-- themed: Book A Trip.
"Book a trip to the library for this year's winter reading club. As your family reads together, you'll visit six different continents and earn stamps in your passport plus a fun prize at each destination. Earn a stamp each week from January 25th through March 6th and a special prize at the end. And be sure to stop in to kick off all the fun at our International Taste Test on January 17th."
I lucked out because not only were the bones of this reading club already in place from 2006 but I was also able to successfully locate them on our staff hard drive! In short it goes like this: Each week the families "travel" to a different continent, read a book (either one about that continent or anything else that they want), then earn a sticker (one of these, from Upstart) in their reading passport + a souvenir from that place. Here is a link to the "travel itinerary" which outlines the continents in which we "travel" plus the prizes that are earned at each place.
The welcome packets, received upon club registration, look like this:
Pictured above are: The plastic bag that houses everything (these from Upstart), a welcome letter to the parents explaining how this year's Winter Reading Club works, the "travel itinerary" which outlines which continent we travel to which week, a list of recommended books if the families choose to read titles that correspond with each location (they don't have to!), a little compass notepad (these from Oriental Trading), a reading log passport (these from Upstart), a flag pencil (these from Oriental Trading), and two bookmarks with continents on them (any two of these from Upstart).
The weeks follow along like this:
Week 1 (Jan. 25 – Jan. 31): Australia – Boomerang & Australia Sticker
Week 2 (Feb. 1 – Feb. 7): Asia – Fortune Cookie Eraser & Asia Sticker
Week 3 (Feb. 8 – Feb. 14): Africa – Zoo Animal Sticker Sheet & Africa Sticker
Week 4 (Feb. 15 – Feb. 21): Europe – Medieval Stamper & Europe Sticker
Week 5 (Feb. 22 – Feb.28): South America – Frog Squirt Toy & South America Sticker
Week 6 (Feb. 29 – March 6): North America – Mini Foam Finger & North America Sticker
The prizes are all from Oriental Trading and the passport stickers are these, from Upstart.
At the end of the club, instead of a final party, we'll just give out certificates of completion and one final prize. We wanted to see if a kick-off event (the International Taste Test) would be more well-attended than a wrap-up event and YEP, with approximately 75 taste testers, it sure was! Success!
The Winter Reading Club is now underway. In regard to the International Taste Test...
What worked least: I ran out of Kit Kats too fast! I just didn't have any idea of the magnitude of this program when I was shopping for treats! I could have had a whole Kit Kat Taste Test program (hmmm...) and it probably would have been successful. So next time, more Kit Kats! ("Next time" being the key part of that statement.)
What worked best: This was the best way to ensure a good turn out for our Winter Reading Club, for sure. In 24-hours, we have almost half of the number of patrons registered for the club that we had all of last winter. This was also the most excited I've seen patrons about the Winter Reading Club in a long time. A kick-off event is definitely a better way to go than a wrap-up event...especially a kick-off event that involves treats!