Cookies and treats for shipping overseas


My grandson is serving in Afghanistan and really wants a taste of good old American home baking. Are there baked items that people have tried that survive the 10 days shipping? I could really use some advise on this one.

badge posted by: smreed on August 17, 2011 at 12:03 am in Q & A
share on: Twitter, Facebook
Replies to this discussion
Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save" to activate your changes.
reply by: hickeyja on August 17, 2011 at 12:47 am

Sherry, This used to be a fairly regular topic on the OBC. Several Circle members have had experience with this. I am sure one or more will provide some insight for you. From what I remember, I think bar cookies were one of the things that shipped well. I think there was also a suggestion to avoid choc chips because the melt in the heat and make a big mess.

Please thank your grandson for his service. We will keep him in our prayers. Jan

reply by: KitchenBarbarian aka Zen on August 17, 2011 at 1:13 am
KitchenBarbarian aka Zen

Try this site:

Operation Mail from Home

Go down to where it says "DESERT-SAFE RECIPES"

Here's a list of recipes for the troops by the folks at allrecipes a couple of years ago.

I came across one website that stated you could not send anything made with vanilla overseas, because it's "alcoholic". They also claimed no nutmeg, because it's (supposedly) an "aphrodisiac".

However, when I went and searched for the actual regulations, I don't find any such restrictions. The ones I do find that I remember from when I was sending care packages lo these many moons ago (had a friend who got shifted from "retiring" to "active duty" at the age of 52 right when the war started) are listed here:

US Postal Service Regulations for APO/FPO

Here's a list of things not to send. Note that while alcohol is prohibited, there's no way for vanilla to be detected when baked in cookies and it is not specifically mentioned. I wouldn't send a rum-soaked fruit-cake, but cookies with a couple of teaspoons of vanilla in them won't be a problem.

Some sites state that chocolate chip cookies are no good because they melt and get gooey (this was my friend's experience), others state these are ok. I think the best solution is to replace chocolate chips with M&Ms.

Here's information about shipping to the troops via the US postal service.

A couple of tips about packaging:

Use strong reinforced materials to package the goods. Remember military packages have to travel a long way and are handled a lot.

Do not use boxes from grocery or liquor stores printed with the name of a hazardous or prohibited material. For example, any box labeled bleach, whiskey or wine will automatically be “unmailable.”

Another site listed some do's and don'ts of baking for overseas, I'm not sure how factual any of this is. For one thing "peanut butter cookies" are listed in several places among the most wanted by the troops baked goods, but these guys claim they'll go rancid. Well maybe that's why they're "most wanted" - maybe they don't survive the trip, LOL!

Anyway for what it's worth:

• No butter, margarine, peanut butter or nuts should be used. These fats go rancid too fast in high heat. Butter flavored vegetable shortening is a better alternative.

• No brown sugar, corn sugar, honey, or molasses should be used. The baked goods will be too soft and possibly become moldy. Only white table sugar should be used.

• Chocolate and butterscotch can be used in baked goods. Once chocolate has been baked into the product and has the chance to take up moisture from the batter, the chocolate will stay rather firm.

• Baked goods should be wrapped in tightly sealed Ziploc baggies to secure contents from sand and rain.

• Pack goodies in sturdy boxes and surround them with foam packaging material or bubble wrap to prevent shifting. Avoid "packing peanuts", as the heat and static cling makes them impossible to clean up.

• Label packages properly and list all contents.

That last one probably isn't really required. I'm pretty sure I never listed contents! But maybe I did and I just don't remember it. It's not listed on any other site I could find. On the other hand, listing contents may reduce the chances of something disappearing between you and the receiver... just food for thought.

reply by: --jej on August 17, 2011 at 4:49 am

Sherry, a couple of cookies that I have had great luck in sending through the mail system are gingerbread boys and cut-out shortbread cookies. I used to have these recipes posted. The shortbread cookie recipe has only three ingredients, is super fast and easy. I wrap each cookie separately and 'cushion' them with paper towels or mailing 'peanuts.' Maybe not what you are after, in that case. Yes? No? Good luck.

reply by: swirth on August 17, 2011 at 9:32 am

We had so many great threads on the oldBakingCircle and several members did the 'adopt a soldier' thing and they told us what their soldier(s) requested and enjoyed.

Many, many pecans and nuts were sent very successfully to Iraq and other locations...some of the boys were from GA and the south and they loved the pecans and nuts and waited for their pkgs. to arrive as they knew they'd have nuts for them.

This is a site often mentioned for great tips for what to send:
I got this great info from a lady from IL who shipped many boxes to troops...she'd written about containers she liked to use that kept baked goods, even birthday cakes safe during shipping:

Bits & Bytes
Treats for the Troops
Edna Bautista of Illinois (but she’ll always call Oahu, Hawaii home) has mailed all sorts of little cakes and sheet cakes to Kuwait to support the troops. “I’ve already sent a Fuzzy Navel cake to my Navy reservist friend, and her shipmates are already requesting more goodies…I’m also planning to make a red velvet cake for Valentine’s Day/Chinese New Year (red is an auspicious and lucky color).” Inspired, I asked Edna to share with all of us how she prepares that cake for the travel ahead, as well as tips and suggestions for mailing food overseas. Here are her tips:

Bake baby Bundts and miniature loaves, wrap them in clear treat bags and tie them with yellow or red-white-and-blue ribbons. They can be sent to each soldier/sailor/airman as individual snacks.
I bake sheet cakes in Glad oven containers (available in 8-by 8-inch or 12- by 9-inch sizes). They are more sturdy, airtight and stackable than foil baking pans. Plus, the troops can mail back the empty containers for refills!
Unfortunately, in my experience, frosted cakes don’t arrive well to their destination. So I have sent store-bought frostings along with plastic knives for the troops to spread on the sheet cakes themselves. I’ve also sent colorful non-pareils in mini-zipper lock bags so they can sprinkle them on the frosting.
Birthday in a box. These instant party packs include the cake, frosting, and decorations, as well as birthday candles, paper plates, napkins, birthday cone hats and party blowers. And I’ve bought little banners and streamers that the birthday soldier/sailor/airman can use to decorate his or her bunk or locker area. These are recyclable, so the next person celebrating a birthday gets to use the decorations, too. Make everything as convenient and disposable as possible for the troops.
Flat boxes marked with “this side up” and “fragile” work well.Fill with popcorn stuffing or bubble wrap to help cushion the treats for the troops.Sometimes frozen icepacks wrapped in old towels and placed in plastic bags will help keep the box cool for a while. (I haven’t tried using the insulated bags yet.)
Check with the post office for sending liquids and perishable items. Cakes and cookies are okay. Customs forms need to be filled out. Send the food priority mail.(When I mailed treats for the troops from Illinois to Kuwait in December, it took more than three weeks during the Christmas rush. So far, it has taken about one and a half weeks for packages to get to the Middle East.)

Many area organizations in my community have had collections of boxes for the troops and they said to use hard candies for packing...they cushion the pkg. contents and the troops love the candies!! So, I always used lots of hard candies for packing materials.
Here's a list of handy things to stuff in along with the baked goodies and treats...


I wanted to share these items for soldiers/troops in Iraq and other areas which were listed in our hometown newspaper for 5/12/2005...these were a part of Operation Homefront being sponsored by our local Ruritan Club for our area men and women...they collected these items and sent them overseas...

--lip balm, Chap-Stick
--non-medicated eye drops
--hand sanitizers
--wet wipes
--facial cleaning pads
--Vitamin C drops
--cough drops
--zinc drops
--body powder
--Gold Bond Powder
--athlete's foot spray/Lotrimin
--toilet paper
--pocket size Kleenex
--emery boards, nail clippers
--disposable razors, shaving cream
--paper dust masks
--hand cream
--aloe vera lotion
--SPF 30+ sunblock
--mole skin blister pads
--anti itch cream
--fever cooling pads
--toothpaste, dental floss
--athletic tube socks/black boot length socks
--flyswatters/fly paper/mouse traps
--laundry detergent tablets or powder
--flip flops for showers
--gel insoles for boots
--non-aerosol insect repellent
--fabric softener sheets/Febreeze
--air fresheners/ stick ups or car type
--knee pads
--elbow pads
--boot laces black or brown 48-60 inches
--batting or golf gloves, black
--cable ties, black, various lengths
--large rubber bands
--Ziplock bags, qt. and gallons
--alcohol wipes
--eye glass repair kits
--packaged eye glass cleaner wipes
--disposable cameras
--DVDs & CDs comedy/western types
--small clipboards, note cards
--writing journal, ink pens
--word games, crossword puzzle books
--batteries, especially AAs
--permanent markers, fine tip
--plastic funnels
--small games, playing cards, dominoes
--magazines (sports, entertainment)
--small shaving mirrors
--small sponges
--small refillable spray bottles

Foods/snacks include snack size boxed cereals, oatmeal, beef jerky, Fruit Roll-Ups, cheese or peanut butter crackers, Rice Krispie Treats, Trail Mix, Chex Mix, nuts, dried fruits, sweetened powdered drink mix, peanut butter, salsa, cheese spreads, microwaveable Lipton Cup of Soup, Power bars, Pop Tarts, granola bars, vacuumed packed/sealed foods like tuna, salmon, meats, stews, pasta, fruits, pudding, hot drinks like coffee, teas, hot chocolate, spiced cider, canned snack items like Pringles, Doritos, pretzels, Cracker Jacks, sunflower seeds (variety flavors), powdered milk, salt & pepper shakers (picnic style), microwaveable meals & soups, microwave popcorn.

PLEASE NO glass jars, home baked goods, flammable items, alcoholic beverages, pornography or items that could be considered pornography, pork products, fresh fruits or plants.

Remember it is 120+ degrees over there now so lots of items we'd like to send would perish like chocolates and such.

Hope this helps give you some ideas and inspires you to send a care package or two.

I've always read that the troops love hot chocolate mixes and powdered drink mixes like lemonade, orange, fruit punch and the like and those are so easy to stuff into boxes.
God bless your grandson for his service to our great nation!

reply by: martibeth on August 17, 2011 at 11:01 am

I know someone who sends Chex Mix quite frequently overseas, and apparently that ships very well, and arrives in great condition (and is very much appreciated). I wonder what would happen if you stuck cookies in with the Chex Mix. I would think it would be a type of cushioning.

reply by: cwcdesign on August 17, 2011 at 12:02 pm

I started this thread last January and VERY successfully sent biscotti and granola to a child who was camping and not able to pick up packages very frequently. I think there were a number of other good suggestions and perhaps a link or 2 to other discussions.

reply by: KIDPIZZA on August 17, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Good day to you. I have made & eaten cookies way past 10,days old, & still fresh tasting. The one I have in mind for you is "SHORTBREAD COOKIES"

A true shortbread cookie has only 4, ingredients. FLOUR, SUGAR, BUTTER & 1/4 teasp of SALT per 1,pound of butter,MAX.
Nothing here to go bad.

There are many good recipes out there you can always go to GOOGLE for help. Remember 4, ingredients only... NO, liquids!!

Good luck to you & your grandson & enloy the rest of the day.


reply by: KitchenBarbarian aka Zen on August 17, 2011 at 12:56 pm
KitchenBarbarian aka Zen

I would ignore the "no home baked goods" adjuration. I'm not sure where it actually comes from, but from the point of view of the troops, it's just plain nuts. THEY WANT THOSE HOME BAKED GOODIES which are prized above all else!

Not sure where it came from, but if you bake with the idea that the stuff will be awhile in transit and it may get very very very hot many times before it gets there, you should be fine.

reply by: swirth on August 17, 2011 at 1:40 pm

The reason it says 'no home baked goods' is that these items were collected by our local Ruritan Clubs (see the note above the list) and were collected over a long period of time and shipped, home baked goods would have perished often before they got the shipments sent off...these items on the long list are all non-perishable. Community folks donated $$ for pkg. shipping and as they got boxes filled with donations, pkgs. were shipped out. This went on for many months.

Of course the troops LOVE and APPRECIATE home baked goods!! One of the ladies who adopted a soldier said she actually ended up adopting the whole unit of guys/gals and they told her what they loved so she could fix homemade goodies they especially loved. She said they loved nuts and she sent tons of pecans, spiced nuts and other variations each time a box went off.

Many folks shared recipes for bar type cookies like Pecan Pie Bars and such that did travel very well.

reply by: mumpy on August 17, 2011 at 10:19 pm

i've mailed biscotti with good results too...and there are so many different good kinds!

reply by: smreed on August 17, 2011 at 11:33 pm

There really a lot of wonderful people out there. Thank you all for your suggestions. I just finished Snickerdoodles in sheet form and will try the shortbread cookies. I like the idea of using hard candies for packing. My boxes usually contain a DVD (not like the old days; my grandson has his computer. Go figure.)
a book, jerky, trail mix without chocolate, spiced nuts and whatever else he asks for. The British digestives (cookies to us) he eats with a spoon that I include. Again, thank you all. I will try biscotti also. I love to make them.

reply by: Logan'sMiMi on August 18, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Sherry - first and foremost - THANKS to your grandson for serving in the US Armed Forces! Please let him know we support his efforts. I have had several adopted soldiers (Adopt a US Soldier) over the years and have sent numerous care packages. One thing I can tell you - it doesn't matter if the baked goods are melted or mushed - the troops love to receive them. The US Postal Service has APO boxes that ship for a flat rate - pack them as full as you can get them. You will have to complete a customs form and list all contents on the form (note, you don't have to specify what kind of cookies, you can just put down cookies)for each box. Over the years, I have sent cookies with chocolate, made with butter, you name it. The baked goods disappear within hours of delivery. The troops share with one another - so make sure you pack extras. I freeze the cookies before I send them and have them double wrapped (six to a bag) in Ziploc bags. Newspaper is great packing, and the troops love to catch up on the news back home....even the weekly store ads.

reply by: wingboy on August 18, 2011 at 11:38 pm

When my nephew was in Afghanistan, we shipped a LOT of stuff over. We took advantage of the post office's flat rate boxes (they'll even send you a packaging kit with boxes and tape).

One of the frequent requests was for 'Monster' energy drinks, the blue or no carb versions. We also sent baby wipes, Gold Bond powder, moleskin, lip balm with a high spf factor, cereal, shelf-stable milk, the single serve no sugar packets of sports drinks, jarred salsa, jarred nacho cheese, inexpensive dark tinted safety glasses, paperback books...

We sent that boy a lot of stuff. We wrapped the liquids in double zipper lock bags and they all made it. Only one package ever went missing. Most took 6 days to get there, a few took 15 days.

We avoided chocolate, but mainly because the nephew isn't a chocoholic (imagine!). Short bread made it as did ginger cookies. Banana bread was ok at 6 days but not at 15.

The nephew still isn't eating scrambled eggs - he said they ate so many powdered eggs that he just can't stomach them any more.

reply by: chiara on August 20, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Just a note about the comments about heat (such as 120 degree heat). Iraq is hot like a desert, but Afghanistan is mountainous and much colder. So heat is not as much an issue, except perhaps in the summer. (My husband was in Afganistan in the winter and it was cold.) He used his time there to go on a diet, so I didn't send him any baked goods!

reply by: lsb on August 20, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Sherry,I had a niece in Iraq and a couple of pen pals in Afgahistan. You've beeen given lots of good ideas. One of the bar cookies I sent was that 7 layer bar cookie, and it seems I sent chocolate chip oatmeal cookies in the winter. They asked for gum,chocolate whey protein powder (low carb/low sugar)fun things (squirt guns, games)but mostly they wanted letters. I wrote my pen pals regularly (and have even been invited to his wedding this fall!!) and every month or so I would write one letter but make 40 copies -- the number in his platoon at the time -- and send them to my pen pal to pass out. I didn't often hear from any of them, but was told they were much appreciated, Some people never get a letter, how sad is that? If you want me to write your grandson, let me know. It's the least I can do for those men and women who do so much for us.

reply by: PurpleCupcakeCo on August 20, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Hi Sherry. While my son was deployed to Aghanistan in 2010 he too missed my home baked goodies. My mom and I both shipped him chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies on several occassions. I shipped mine in plastic containers and my mom shipped hers in plastic freezer bags. Both ways shipped great in the USPS flat rate boxes. The trick to keeping your cookies fresh is to place 1 - 2 slices of bread inside the container. My son said the cookies always arrived still tasting fresh. God bless your grandson and may he return home safe.

reply by: brooksiefan on August 22, 2011 at 12:33 am

Molasses cookies ship very well. KAF has a good recipe. A tip on packing--use the hometown newspaper and hard candies for packing material. Both are very welcome. Don't worry about wadding up the paper--the soldiers will straighten out the pages and read every word. But please, if you send Page 1 send the jump pages as well! Hard candies help keep the mouth moist on patrol. And here is an excerpt from a letter I got from a second cousin in Iraq: "dear Brooksie, thanks for the package. No one here had ever read the New Yorker, but we passed it around and everyone liked it. The stories are a little long though."
That proves in my mind that any reading material is welcome!

reply by: dlseipke on August 22, 2011 at 2:05 pm

I have been shipping baked goods to family members in the service since 1968, and just finished a year of shipping for my niece in Iraq. Molasses, peanut butter, sugar cookies and date bars all did well. Chocolate chips did not, nor do brownies. I use tins or plastic deli containers to ship, lined in parchment paper, with parchment between the layers. Make sure they have no room to shift--it's ok to "squish" them a bit when packing, as they will squish if they slide around anyways! Filler between the tins/containers and the outer box should NOT be newspaper, because the print gets messy if it gets damp. Socks, bags of red licorice, Werther's originals, and baby wipe packages work well for packaging. Magazines if inside plastic bags. Brown kraft paper works nicely, as does "popcorn" meant for packaging. Outer box cannot carry writing or religious symbols.