Ever since preschool conditioned us to expect mid-morning orange slices or crackers spread with peanut butter, snack time has become a high point in many of our days. These between-meal indulgences treat tummies and tastebuds to craveable salty, sweet or savory flavors before the “hangries” hit. And that’s a good thing for everyone concerned!
Snacks can be junk food or something more nutritious. They could be chosen from a vending machine, grabbed at a service station, or purchased during a weekly grocery store run. Since they are synonymous with “treats,” they invariably evoke special memories and smiles. I fondly remember how I thought blobs of Cheez Whiz on white bread was the best snack in the world when I was a kid or when heating Pop-Tarts in a toaster qualified as “cooking.”
Snack food, like the cast of “Friends,” has seemingly always been there for you. Generations of snackers just like you have probably thrown bags of potato chips into shopping carts only to rip them open right after returning to their cars. But after recently discovering a timeline chronicling when our snack favorites came to be, I learned “always” is truly a relative term. In the case of potato chips, their snack icon status didn’t happen until the first continuous potato processor was invented in 1943 leading (thankfully!) to large scale production of the chips.
In the decades following, new taste sensations have been created to tempt us. In 1967, Doritos and Pringles entered the snack scene, putting a tasty new spin on crunch. In 1973, it was Cup Noodles, the easy-peasiest way to make ramen. Come 1979, Ring Pops were all the rage, followed in 1983 by Skittles. In 1989, Lunchables joined grocer’s refrigerated cases and kids’ lunchboxes were never the same.
But in the 2010s snacking became less about cheat eating and more about making healthy choices. Snack trends over the past 10 years include kale chips, avocado toast, chickpea puffs, plant-based jerky and low-carb treats. We’re all realizing that our indulgences don’t always have to make us feel guilty and we can satisfy cravings while taking dietary concerns into account.
I don’t know what the next trend in snack food will be, but I can’t wait to taste what mid-morning treats await me down the road. Bon appetit!