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Snacks Are Bullshit

An impassioned argument

03.16.17
stephenson_manrepeller_snacks_hero

Snacks are not a meal, this is a fact upon which we can all agree. Snacks aren’t warming, filling or nourishing. They’re by nature light bites, designed to not fill you up completely. To not fill you is the exact point, actually. This is why I posit that snacks are inferior and should be avoided.

Eat too many snacks and you feel terrible. A tray full of cubes of cheese? Nausea and regret. A bag of tortilla chips? Sickening. A deep bowl of crudite? Both hollow and overstuffed. Once I ate about a cup of tigernuts on an empty stomach (don’t ask) and I almost vomited in a meeting (true story).

A snack will never satisfy you like a meal. Snacks seemed to be designed to leave you wanting more. Who can eat just a handful of nuts? Snacks are bullshit.

French women don’t eat snacks, right? Blue-zone dwellers don’t, either — they linger over hearty, delicious meals. Meanwhile, Americans’ brains are constantly tricking us into snacking. In February, trade magazine Nation’s Restaurant News reported that, “visits to restaurants during snack occasions rose 3 percent in the year ended September 2016.” (Bolded for emphasis of ridiculous phrasing). Lunch visits were down two percent, breakfast was only up one percent and dinner was flat.

The snack industry is booming. In an attempt to reinvigorate its business, Hershey has decided to focus on becoming a “more diversified snack company,” and will, “expand its breadth across the snackwheel by capturing new usage occasions and participating in on-trend categories.” (Trends include shorter ingredient lists, plant protein, added probiotics and less sugar.) Meanwhile, “healthy” snacks are bolstering PepsiCo’s bottom line.

“Afternoon snack is the strongest-performing meal occasion for the year,” said one restaurant analyst. Are we all preschoolers? WTF is happening? Turns out it’s generational. According to market research company Mintel, millennials are, by far, the snackiest generation. The way things are going, soon all our meals will be supplemented — or flat-out replaced — by snacks. Their research finds that 94% of Americans eat at least one snack per day, with millennials more likely to eat four or more a day. Half our eating is snacking. Why? We are either too busy to sit down and eat a proper meal or we just don’t feel like cooking.

Even though I hate snacks on principle (and to be contrarian, as I am prone to be), like practically everyone else in this country I fall prey to their siren song at least once per day. Just this afternoon, I had an overpriced smoothie and a fistfull of roasted almonds. Other days it’s an apple, a banana or something weirder, like a cup of lentil soup. It’s 4:30 p.m. right now and I feel that old, familiar hankering. Okay, fine, I guess I’ll make another exception. Give me a fucking snack.

Illustration by Meghann Stephenson, follow her on Instagram @meghannfinley.

Get more Beauty ?
  • Snacks keep me from biting someone’s head off (usually my boyfriend when we get home from work) because Hangry is my middle name. They’re more of a necessity to keep my relationship alive than a preference for the sake of tiny meals.

  • nevvvvave

    snacking on a navel orange as I read this

    • Leslie Price

      Would eat.

    • Meg S

      If it’s healthy, does that make it not a snack? I’m testing my loopholes for snacking here.

  • Sheila T.

    currently snacking on buncha crunch as i read

  • Lindsay D

    i usually eat a snack for breakfast,sometimes a piece of fruit and sometimes a cadbury egg 🙂 in college we also developed a poor habit of eating cheezits for dinner. snacks for meals is my go to.

  • Abby

    I snacked while reading this! Leftover coffee cake from a meeting this morning. 10/10 would snack again.

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  • Dale Chong

    as an avid snacker, i see your point. until I get the hangries during my “mid-afternoon grumpies” as a college friend would call it, otherwise known as nap time.

    Typically snack on fruit/nuts/veggies. Although today I had Peanut M&Ms at 9:45am…..oops.

  • this is the reason for tea time at half past three…is this not the only/ultimate snack?

  • cuffers27

    Literally just bought and ate a bag of popcorn. Snacks = a legitimate reason to get up from your desk.

  • Molly D

    If I had my way I would eat 6 granola bars every day, one sitting.

  • I thought healthy snacks were a good idea in between main meals. Not junky snacks obvi but almonds, apple and celery maybe a cookie…:D Better than starving between meals like we were raised.

  • jiggahava

    You can pry my snacks from my cold, dead, cheeto-dust covered hands.

  • A Local Honey

    Thank you! I happen to hate snacks and snacking. I am annoyed and distracted by people snacking in meetings (which happens to be every meeting), crumbs falling into their laptop keyboards, food smells filling up the room, slurping sounds from the emptied Dr. Pepper. Snacks are bullshit and we are not 5-year-olds (I’m that rotten mom that doesn’t let my 5-year-olds snack – I’m aware they’re going to grow up to be 9 am-Cheez-It-coveting monsters, don’t worry).

    • Meg S

      Wow, who thinks it’s okay to go into any kind of meeting (except for a lunch and learn) with food? Water and coffee/tea are the only acceptable things to take into a meeting as far as I’m concerned.

      • A Local Honey

        I heartily agree. I once sat in a 1:00 meeting (post lunch) with a person who brought Long John Silvers and a root beer float. She brought it into the meeting. And ate it. I couldn’t concentrate on anything else! Another time she brought tacos. I just…hhhhhhuuuuuhhhhhh…

        • Meg S

          Wow. Just wow. I work in a pretty relaxed office, but that kind of thing would never happen. I feel like the person who did this is young and hasn’t figured out office etiquette yet.

  • XJ JX

    Snackin’ on pecan braid pastry while reading this.

  • Sarah Bauer

    Is it OK if I call it grazing?

  • I’m in love with the feature image for this article! And yes snacking…sorry to say, but It’s my go-to. I probably would snack all meals except dinner if it wasn’t seen as being an irresponsible adult.

  • jess

    Cereal is my snack of choice, I’m like flippin Jerry Seinfeld with the stuff

  • How about one carrot with Humus? I eat it every other day.

    http://www.bythewear.com

  • But you don’t have to cook! Any type of food, no matter what size it is, is better when I don’t have to cook it.

  • The afternoon snack is just so unavoidable

    – Natalie
    http://www.workovereasy.com

  • Can I just say I LIVE for weird consumer insights like this. Literally I love this shit, so thank you. I recently started eating a lot more home cooked food thanks to a great recipe box subscription service here in the UK and I’ve found snacks a lot less appealing since eating bigger meals made from real meat and vegetables and stuff. Not really that surprising I guess.
    Whiskey Tango Flat White | Life and style in weird short essays

    • Leslie Price

      I have found the same – it’s not surprising, but the more balanced and filling my meals the less I need to snack. I just hate that I feel like I have to snack every day.

    • Krusty the Kat

      Came here to say this. Everyone gets a touch of the hangries once in a while when your schedule is thrown off due to travel or unforeseen circumstances, but if you’re getting irritably hungry every day, you probably aren’t eating big enough or balanced meals.

      Also, eat some fat. You need to eat fat to survive. It will also make you less hungry, and you won’t get those headaches. A little goes a long way, and a lot goes longer. Half and half all day, baby.

  • Lebanese Blonde

    Does fruit count though? I don’t really think of eating an apple in the middle of the afternoon a snack…it’s just supplementing my daily greens intake!

  • Lillian

    Haley is suspiciously absent from this comment thread.

  • Savannah ϟ

    I think the problem is less so on the culture of snacking, and more so with industry’s response to capitalize on it. I function better (cognitively and metabolically) with smaller “snackish” meals spread through the day, and I don’t think it’s a problem. But I try to turn off the part of my brain that’s socially conditioned to think a cookie or potato chips or packaged cake are suitable fuel.

  • Chelsea Adilia Rojas

    I usually make it through the work day without snacking and get by on 2 square meals…but by the time I get home it’s snack city as I cook dinner. Then sometimes I can’t even finish my meal! smh…

  • Suzy Lawrence

    I pack breakfast in the AM and then lunch when I go home for an hour in the early afternoon. I eat both meals in my office for over an hour, sometimes two or more depending on my schedule. It’s my opinion that snacking is defined by serving size, not by what a corporation labels as “snack” on their packaging, therefore I guess I snack everyday all day. I say eat however you want and whenever you want, but maybe don’t rely on “Hershey’s” as your nourishment standard.

  • CatMom

    If the French don’t have snacks, what is goûter?

    Also, counterpoint: snacks are the best, and I would eat only snacks forever if I could. Why? Because I like variety. This is why I like tapas and cheese boards.

    • nathaliea

      I don’t think “le goûter” is as pervasive and institutionalized among grown French women as the concept of “a snack” now is in North America, but Frenchwomen, correct me if I’m wrong. “La merenda” in Italian is also usually a kids’ meal, but I think it’s assumed adults can wait for aperitivo (the best way to snack!) or a complete meal. Maybe it’s just a semantic thing.

  • Meg S

    Just today, I stopped all of my snacky subscription boxes. One was an international box, one was from a specific country where I traveled and loved the food, and one was naturebox. I agreed to be put on hold until June and downgraded to a smaller box because they no longer offer subscriptions and I don’t want to regret giving it up. But I’m going to snack less, and hopefully cutting out all the snack boxes will do it.

    I can resubscribe to my dinner box and get the rest of my groceries delivered so I’m no longer tempted to buy snacky things at the store. I wish Trader Joe’s delivered. That will be my downfall. Wish me luck because I don’t know how I’m going to get through the day without snacking on almonds. Maybe I can make one tiny exception. Almonds are healthy, right?

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  • Belle

    Hahahahaha! But apparently the French do snack… just once a day in afternoon around 4pm… so you’re basically doing it just right 😉

    http://www.thislifeisbelle.com

  • nathaliea

    My favourite way to snack is in the disguise of a meal: aperitivo or tapas. A glass of wine, definitely some olives, a few slices of cheese or ham, possibly some small fried thing, maybe a little green salad, maybe a little grain salad, tomato and garlic rubbed on toast, one or all of the above, but nothing too much. If you forget to have dinner it’s not the end of the world because your food groups are at least in part accounted for.

  • aguirre81

    You are willfully confusing snacking with an addiction to junk food. Some of us have a bad metabolism or sensitivity to blood sugar snacks. I snack because otherwise I feel like crap. The references to blue states and French people are merely anecdotal.

  • Rebekah

    But I love snacks.

  • Ciccollina

    I completely agree, snacks are terrible, especially if you’re sitting in an office all day. Who needs that many calories?! And snacks are always full of sugar, which is another thing that we should all avoid eating on a regular basis.

    People I know that snack and allow sugar into their diets are always struggling with their weight. I think if we remember what is natural and healthy and ethical, we’ll be nice and full without feeling bloated, sleepy, or dipping in and out of sugar highs.

  • Annika Haglund

    I have the exact same thought! Stopped snacking in the middle of january and have been feeling a lot better. Make sure to visit my blog for more fashion related content. x
    http://www.nouw.com/annikahaglund

  • A

    This is one of the most pointless articles I’ve ever read. I will never get those 4 minutes back.

  • Tracy

    The saddest part isn’t that he hates snacks, it’s that he wrote this.