- Cheese or Peanut Butter Crackers:
In the world of gas station snack foods, these hard-working guys often get lost in the shuffle among the seemingly sexier options of extreme chips, sodas, and even generic candy bars. Well, I’ve got three words for you: Sixty Nine Cents. That’s the standard going rate for a pack of 6, or sometimes even 8(!!!), sandwich crackers. My personal favorites are Keebler Club & Cheddar, but there are a number of other strong options, including Cheese & Peanut Butter, and Doritos has even gotten into the cracker game with some Nacho Cheese options. At about a dime per sandwich cracker, you’re getting a lot of snacking bang for your loose change. Another positive – they’re a relatively clean car food for a moderately skilled hungry dad . One can easily fit an entire sandwich into one’s mouth before crunching away, thus avoiding a pesky crumb explosion with every bite. It’s time we all appreciate this truly underrated food for its low cost, tastiness, and cleanliness.
- The Pickle Spear
Finally, a decent snack food that isn’t unhealthy at all. Pickles come in many shapes and sizes, but for our money, we prefer the cubed triangle spear. And speaking of “our money,” the most delicious, rewarding, and exciting pickle spear is unquestionably the complimentary spear that’s sometimes served at delis or other restaurants when one orders a sandwich. They’re often housed in cling wrap or a small plastic baggy, which only enhances their appeal. I can’t recall another free “bonus” item across any food genre or price point that isn’t advertised on the menu. Sure, I’ll also occasionally buy a jar of spears for the fridge at home. They’re snappy and taste great. BUT, there’s perhaps no greater feeling in the world of sandwich dining than finding that glorious spear hiding under some chips, in the bottom of a bag, or even proudly resting between two halves of a sandwich. We love you, pickle spear!
These things are tasty and really, really affordable. But you’ll never hear anybody talk about them, or ask for some. “Hey man. Got any wafers?” Overshadowed by cookies, you never see on them on the party list. But you find me a man, woman or child who doesn’t like wafers. If you say you don’t like wafers, explain why in the comments. What kind of person doesn’t like wafers? Seriously, what kind of person doesn’t like wafers?
4. Chocolate Pudding Pies – Why, oh why can’t I ever find these things? Why isn’t everyone talking about them, demanding that they be put into mass production? Chocolate Pudding Pies are another level of delicious – in a category unto themselves. It’s essentially a Snac-Pac, but after you finish your pudding, you get to eat the sweet, crusty container. Your best bet is to canvas every hole-in-the-wall bodega in the state – you may find one or two dusty choco pies. 7-11 had them for about a week, which was amazing. But after I bought the last four, they never restocked! Cherry pies at every store. Apple pies abound on the shelf. Heck, even lemon pies are prevalent. Chocolate pudding pies on the other hand, are basically unicorns. Since when does fruit overshadow chocolate? It cannot be the health consciousness. These pies (whether cherry, apple, lemon, or chocolate) are gram-for-gram the least healthy thing you can possibly eat. Other than eating a tub of Crisco with a spoon, I don’t think you can pack more fat into anything.
5. Carr’s Whole Wheat Crackers – Next time you have guests, you’re going to want to put these on your list to serve alongside the cheese. Not because you guests will like them (although they would). Rather, because these fancy crackers are not priced for regular snacking. So your best shot at getting some is by justifying the purchase as “for guests.” Which is a shame because these “crackers” are amazing. They brush right against the line of being cookies. They are more sweet than salty, and they have an excellent one-of-a-kind crumble. Plus they are “Baked with 100% whole grain,” so you can pretend they are healthy. Carr’s Whole Wheat Crackers come in pretty small packages, so follow this pro-tip: When preparing the cheese and cracker plate, only put out four or five Carr’s crackers. Then eat three of those while socializing. When it’s time to fill the plate back up, use the Ritz or something else. Sock away the rest of those Carr’s to eat by yourself secretly on the toilet later that night. If anybody asks you to put out more Carrs, give a wink and a nod to a fellow Carr’s fanatic. Ask how they became acquainted with this underrated snack. Then tell them that there aren’t’ any more.
6. Restaurant Crackers/breadstick packs – (This is mostly just a re-hash of Jim Gaffigan’s classic take on free bread at restaurants, but it’s still true). These dry, flavorless, crumbly crackers wouldn’t be appealing in any number of scenarios. But put them in a basket at the table while I am waiting pre-or post my meal order – I will devour them. Sure, this same pack of crackers would sit in my shelf at home, uneaten for a year. But during the pre-meal wait, they are a godsend when you’ve walked into the restaurant primed for food and you are left waiting. Thank you free crackers. Thank you. Don’t go unappreciated.
7. A Fistful of Cheerios
Sometimes things get bad from a snacking perspective. You’re home. Maybe everyone else is in bed or busy in the basement. Your loving wife has made a responsible decision to keep the shopping list healthy – free of chips, cookies, jerky, or any of life’s basic pleasures. There hasn’t been a holiday in weeks (from which treats might be leftover). Nor have you hosted a party, large playdate, or visitor of any kind for quite a while (which often results in some snacks that are otherwise contraband in your home).
What’s left? Carrot sticks? Not today. An apple? Only if I have to. Ah ha. Cereal! A bowl? No. That last bit of milk is for the kids. If I take tonight, there will be a noticeable milk shortage in the morning.. and only one viable culprit (because my wife knows the precise milk levels at all times.) Plus, I’d have to make noise washing the bowl (I don’t dare leave a dirty bowl and spoon in the sink as evidence). The sink could wake somebody and start a line of questioning about why I’m in the kitchen at night. Cheerios, hmm? I could whip up some Poor Man’s Party Mix* – but no. The microwave is even louder than the sink.
A handful of Cheerios it is. It’ll have to do. Multigrain Cheerios! Yikes! Sounds a little healthy. But wait…for some reason, these Multigrain Cheerios are sweetened. Hooray for an era of faux healthy food naming. If you call it multigrain, my wife will buy it – even though it’s got a decent coating of sugar (6.2 grams per cup). Nice work General Mills! You and me are on the same team. The Multigrain Cheerios are pretty tasty. I could definitely do worse (see aforementioned carrots and apples).
* Poor Man’s Party Mix
In Episode Four Hugh gave our listeners ideas on how to create unconventional, unhealthy quasi-tasty snacks from random ingredients in the kitchen. Poor Man’s Party Mix Recipe:
Step 1 – take bowl of Cheerios (a cup?)
Step 2 – take a pat of butter and place it on top of the Cheerios. Shake on some garlic salt.
Step 3 – Microwave for a while. If you’re lazy just nuke it until the butter is melted. If you want better butter coverage, stop every 15 seconds to stir it up.
Step 4 – Stir it up
8. Utz Potato Stix – you want bag of snacks that will fill you up and take you to flavortown? Potato stix. Potato stix! POTATO STIX! I know they don’t have a fancy flavor or a keen marketing gimmick. But, dude, don’t forget how delicious regular old potato, salt, and oil can be. These guys have all the flavor of classic potato chips with volume-friendly geometry that enhances the crunch and serving size. Each stix is very well fried small and thin so (a) you can eat multiple at once, and your surface area of crunchiness is limited only on how much you can fit in your mouth; and (b) they can pack a lot into your “single serving” bag – and boy do they. See for yourself next time at the store. That Net weight will blow all of the other snacks out of the water.