Snacking plays a much larger role in our society than you might realize. Snacks are more than just a little nosh to tide us over between meals; Unhealthy snacks are rewards, indulgences that we can treat ourselves to after a long day or when we need a little pick-me-up. And for children, they’re nothing short of one of the highlights of existence. And healthy snacks are something we’re constantly on the quest for, scanning supermarket shelves for quick bites that can give us the satisfaction of their less-healthy relatives while not falling into the “junk food” category. Our innate desire to snack hasn’t changed much over the years, but the snacking options available to us certainly have. To try to understand how, we’ve tracked down when the most popular processed snack foods throughout the decades were introduced (with some help from the intrepid folks at the Food Timeline).
The concept of sitting back and enjoying a snackypoo is about as old as humanity itself; just picture the classic image of ancient Greeks reclining and feeding themselves bundles of grapes while being fanned. But the concept of sitting on the couch and mindlessly eating 20 Oreos is, obviously, a lot younger than that. Unless you were a member of the aristocracy, prior to the modern era your snacks would have most likely included fruits, nuts, seeds, small rodents, or some combination thereof, meant to get something in your stomach between meals. But once the Industrial Revolution came around and brought with it concepts like boredom, free time, and processed food, well… we know how that turned out.
Over the past hundred years, the art of snacking has evolved in some major ways, and it’s interesting to see when some of the post popular snack foods on earth first hit the market. In the 1910s, your standard snack would be a piece of fruit; today nearly every new processed snack food is devised by food scientists who set out to create a bite-size wonder that hits our fat, salt, and umami buttons with military precision. Fruit is well and good, but there’s nothing quite like a Dorito. Click here to learn how processed snack foods have evolved since 1910.