At the same moment in a food world that features larger and larger meals - I heard something about a pizza-sized hamburger that I'm trying my best to ignore - the trend toward "healthier" foods - or least foods that can be marketed as healthier - runs on a loud parallel track.
Will real people in the real world actually switch over to snack foods that are healthy? Oh, a few will, and always have, but the majority? Not if history is a guide.
But that's the trend of the year, or so says the Food Channel. The website of the National Association of Convenience Stores naturally has a huge vested interest in the subject. And that's where I found this report.
The Food Channel has posted its Top 10 Snack Trends of 2010, based on research conducted by channel in conjunction with CultureWaves, the International Food Futurists and Mintel International. Here are the trends shaping how Americans snack.
1. Chip and Dip. The desire for change has morphed into a new array of artisanal chip-and-dip choices, such as hummus and falafel chips.
2. Small and Sensational. “Grazing is the new snacking,” the Food Channel said.
3. The Drink Shift. This trend encompasses the bevy of beverages made with fruit or antioxidants. Drinks have shifted away from colas and energy drinks to teas, lemonades, fruity organic waters and carbonated fruit drinks.
4. Goin’ Nuts. Nuts have been paired with granola and fruits, as well as appearing solo as smoked and salted. With more emphasis on how good nuts are for you, more people are grabbing a handful for snacking.
5. Fruits: The Low Hanging Snack. Fruit is noshed on fresh, dried and freeze-dried. New types of fruits have become trendy, such as the Amazon açai fruit. Fresh fruit is now the number one snack among kids aged 2 to 17.
6. Cruising the Bars. Granola bars have come out in a wide variety, such as dairy-free, gluten-free, non-GMO, organic, soy-free, cholesterol-free, trans-fat-free, and casein-free.
7. Sweet and Salty. Recently, snacks have embraced the sweet and salty all in one bite.
8. Yogurt, Redefined. International flavors, such as Greek yogurt, and the added value of probiotics has made yogurt new and exciting as a snack.
9. Bodaciously Bold. The spicier, the better for some snacks. Bland is out and bold is definitely in.
10. Nostalgia’s New Again. Old standbys like Snack Cakes, Hostess Twinkie, Ding Dongs, TastyKake, and Little Debbies have found new life these days.
Notice that dairy-free granola bars and lower-lactose Greek yogurt are on the list. That's about all the support we get. Well, that and fruits. Fruit is dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, and have all sorts of natural nutrients that as yet can't be found in pill form.
Fruit. The original snack food.