February is National Snack Food Month. It was started in 1989 to “to increase consumption and build awareness of snacks during a month when snack food consumption was traditionally low” according to the Fooducate wellness community. February 15th is a particularly good day to stock up on chocolate!
According to Oxford Languages, a snack is a small amount of food eaten between meals. Snacks often differ from main meals in what they contain, portion size, consumption time, and place as well as why they`re eaten
So, theoretically, it can be anything. But certain foods are more likely to be chosen than others. My personal observations—totally not scientific—is that people tend to be primarily salty snackers OR sweet snackers.
Salty or Sweet?
You can find favorite junk food by state, but these are the nation’s most popular snacks, as measured by consumer opinion.
- Jif. (peanut butter)
And sometimes, one is not enough: according to a OnePoll survey of 2000 snackers, 60% said snacks taste better when they’re paired together.
- Cookies and cream 39 percent
- Chocolate and nuts 37 percent
- Popcorn and chocolate 35 percent
- Chocolate and marshmallow 34 percent
- Chocolate and fruit 33 percent
- Peanut butter and jelly 32 percent
- Peanut butter and apples 30 percent
- Cheese and crackers 27 percent
- Chips and salsa 26 percent
- Chocolate and peanut butter 26 percent
Modern Snack Trends
According to an article by Bridget Goldschmidt (progressivegrocer.com), Americans are snacking between meals more than ever, and eating snack foods with meals grew by 5% over the ten-year period from 2010 to 2020. She cited several conclusions.
- NPD (a national research group) also found that snacking follows a daily pattern in most U.S. households: better-for-you snacks such as fruit or yogurt are eaten in the morning; snacks like potato chips or tortilla chips are likely eaten at lunch; and sweeter snacks like chocolate candy and cookies in the evening.
- What drives snacking?
- Satiety (how full the eater is)
- How easy a food is to eat
- Time of day (health-driven motivation gives way to satiety as the day goes on)
- The COVID-19 pandemic ramped up snacking. (How surprising is that? Not.) The NPD study cited in the article found that having enough snack foods available during the pandemic is important to 37% of consumers. These consumers’ homes are well stocked with salty snacks and frozen sweets more than other items.
- In many cases, the more snack food packages in the home, the more often the item is eaten, which tends to be particularly true of certain kinds of snack foods, such as salty snacks.
According to the survey of 2,000 American snackers mentioned above:
- 71 percent of all those surveyed consider themselves “snackers”
- 66 percent said snacking brings them great joy
- 67 percent said snacking is one of their favorite forms of stress relief
- (No wonder snacking is up during the pandemic!)
Snacks? What Snacks?
48 percent of surveyed Americans have stashed their favorite treats in hidden spots around the house (often with no plans to share!).
- 46 percent of those who had hidden snacks said they simply “don’t want to share”
- 53 percent said the people they live with would “eat them all” if they knew where to look
Of respondents who have ever hidden snacks, 69 percent said they’re currently doing so!
- 72 percent said their snack stash has been discovered by someone else
- The average person has moved a snack stash four times to try to keep it a secret.
- 71 percent of the time partners and kids were the finders of respondents’ “snackpiles”
- Only 6 percent of respondents have never been caught
A few creative snack hiding places:
- Behind the washing machine
- Inside oatmeal containers
- Behind books on a bookshelf
- In the freezer, behind the broccoli
- Under yarn piles in a knitting basket
- On a top shelf, out of sight
- Among cleaning supplies
- At the bottom of the diaper bag
- Taped to the underside of the fish tank lid
- Behind the butter churn
- Suspended from the ceiling, above the ceiling fan
- In the wall, behind the vents or outlet covers
And the average respondent believes they could survive almost FIVE full months on their stockpile of snacks alone.
Really? I’d be pressed to live 5 months on my pantry, 2 refrigerators, and a freezer! Surely that was 5 full months of snacks.
BOTTOM LINE: In the U.S., you now know the what of snacking, and a bit of the when.
STAY TUNED: Next week I’ll delve into where and why!