Doritos Flamin Hot Nacho - 2019 Doritos

Street Food Discoveries: The State Of American Snacking

With Labour Day parties and BBQs looming, and back to school time close behind, I thought it would be fun look at The State of American Snacking. And I was stunned to find that some classic junk foods are no longer among America’s top choices…

Snacks by State - © 2022 Wisevoter.comMost popular snacks by state, as of July 31, 2022.

Show me a festive Labour Day grill-out, or game day buffet, or sandwich bar and I’ll point out some salty chips.  And kids have long found it convenient and satisfying to grab a bag of chips and a soft drink/soda when they want a snack through their school day. Convenience stores sell literally tons of them.

Sweets are not completely out of the picture, though they have apparently been relegated, by the majority of American Junk Food palates, to token status.

So what are the prevailing favourites?

Almost like magic, results of a new survey of folks in all 50 U.S. states, asking about their favourite snacks, fell into my hands this morning.

And I was immediately riveted by the findings. Not what I expected at all!

Who did it? conducted the professional survey in fulfillment of its core mandate: “Based on the leadership principles of George Washington, we provide citizens, voters, and elected officials with the information, insights, and tools that amplify democracy in the modern age.”

The organization has four key aims:

  • To engage new voters
  • To engage the community
  • To help explain key issues
  • To elevate America’s leaders

How a survey of the nation’s most popular snacks accomplishes any of those aims, I am not sure. But there are a couple of unspoken goals it definitely does address:

  • To advise snack makers on the current State of Snacking in America
  • To intrigue food bloggers

Key findings

The key findings of the survey are summed up thus:

  • Snacking continues to grow in 2022 with an increase of 13 percent compared to last year
  • Most Americans like their pantry stocked with sweet and salty snacks
  • About 4 out of 10 (41 percent) indulge in 2 snacks a day while 24 percent grab in 3 snacks a day.
  • Snackers in 33 states prefer salty snacks
  • Sweet snacks came out on top in 13 states.
  • Doritos is America’s favorite snack, winning in 23 states.

My take

I conducted my own closer analysis of the survey findings and discovered (or intuited) the following about The State of American Snacking:

  • M&Ms dominate the snacking Top 5 in states where sweet trumps salty and fatty as the fave taste. In fact, only M&Ms show up as a sweet snack No. 1.
  • I was downright shocked to see other sweet snacks so far down the list that they don’t even rate in the overall top five any more. You know: massive, classic faves of days gone by like candy bars, licorice, gum, gummy candies, sour candies, Turkish taffy, Maltesers, Tootsie Rolls and Pops, Junior Mints, York Peppermint Patties, jelly beans, gumdrops and their ilk – I could go on and on.
  • Corn chips clobbered puff-style snacks (i.e.- Cheetos) in the salty/fatty category. And Kettle brand shows up as the only Potato Chip top pick, in only one state.
  • I wonder what’s behind the amazing year-over-year growth in overall snacking from 2021 to 2022. Wisevote makes no comment.
  • We know how many Americans indulge in 2 or three snacks a day. I’d love to know how many sneak ‘at least one’.
  • The figures are staggering: reports that 99.67 million Americans consumed at least one bag of Doritos last year. And 6.65 million crunched down more than 8 bags apiece.
  • Doritos (and other brands) reduced the amount of product in their various-sized bags following the COVID crisis. There are now 5 fewer chips per single-serving size bag of Doritos. That’s called ‘shrinkflation’: cut the amount of product in a standard package size to avoid raising the price. Competition is fierce.

Bottom line

The survey is an eye-opener, as much for what it doesn’t say about The State of American Snacking as for what it does say.

~ Maggie J.