Convenience trumps all other traits as food makers invest in portable, single-serve portions.
Credit: © Richard Levine / Alamy

Once upon a time, snacking was a bad word. It was what you did in between the three important meals. Today, research indicates that consumers are snacking more than ever, and large packaged food manufacturers are repositioning everything they can to be consumed many times a day and on the go—often with just one hand. There has never been a snackier time than now, suggests the Associated Press.

Tyson, the meat processing megacompany, earlier this year launched "Snack Week" to promote its new Hillshire snacking brand. "Snack Week celebrates the snacking experience and the elevated role snacking plays in people's lives," said Megan Huddleston, Tyson's director of marketing, in a press release. The brand now offers grilled "chicken bites" and "small plate combinations" of air-dried salami, cheese, and toasted rounds seasoned with sea salt.

Meantime, the SPAM makers at Hormel launched their own "Spam Snacks," which are dried chunks of meat in re-sealable bags. The folks at Kellogg's refer to cereal as "the new snack," and sell pouches of Apple Jacks, Corn Pops, and Fruit Loops. They've also converted jars of peanut butter into digestible units that could easily fit in a lunchbox, purse or briefcase: Skippy P.B. Bites (think Combos for kids).

Not to be out-done, Hershey now sells "Snack Mix," which resembles trail mix but combines several already delicious standalone snacks: Reese's peanut butter cups, chocolate bars, pretzels, and salted almonds.

The list goes on and on: Guacamole? Sure, Eat Wholly has a 100-calorie snack-sized portion. Even pharma companies are entering the game: Abbott Laboratories, best known for medical devices and nutritional supplements (meal replacement bars Ensure), has a brand new line of snack bars called Curate.

Of course, there's apparently some money to be made in selling snacks: Irene Rosenfeld, CEO multinational conglomerate Mondelez (which makes Oreos among other things), told the Chicago Tribune it's a $1.2 trillion market and growing internationally.

We at F&W have no issue with snacking, so long as it's done responsibly—or at least deliciously.