TOP 20: Best-Selling Healthy Snacks
OK, quick: What is the #1 all-time snack food in America? Don't over-think it. No need to get all dreamy-eyed and wistful remembering slurpy summer popsicles, quintessential after-school chocolate chip cookies, or the pop-pop-popping of a buttery bag of popcorn. The classic potato chip crowns the list. The full list of top-selling snacks may surprise you a little bit, but even more shocking is the lengthy list of ingredients in many of them.
Actually, there's some reason to believe that eating between meals may be good for you. Sort of. A well-known Canadian study published years ago in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that frequent small meals – as many as 17 per day – could result in several health benefits vis a vis a regular three-meal-per-day diet, including a better cholesterol profile.
Of course, it really depends on what you are snacking on. And too many of us resort to very unhealthy snacks. Your average Twinkie contains winning ingredients like partially hydrogenated vegetable and/or animal shortening (beef fat!), polysorbate 60, and two artificial colors. Cheetos have monosodium glutamate and get their glow from Yellow #6.
The food magazines and internet food sites are littered with articles about snacking. A website called Random Facts reports, among other fascinating factoids, that the American candy market is a $23 billion business, that Hostess makes 500 million Twinkies a year (still?), and that Dunkin' Donuts sells 6.4 million donuts per day.
A particularly good Food Channel piece points to 10 emerging trends in snacking, such as snacks that combine sweet and salty.
And though it's hard to come by a comprehensive list of the most popular snacks, we particularly like the list published by a trade magazine called Automatic Merchandiser of the top vending machine snacks:
- Doritos Big Grab
- Peanut M&Ms
- Cheetos Crunchy
- Cheez-It Original
- Twix Bar
- Strawberry Frosted Pop-Tarts
- Rice Krispies Treat
- Lay's Chips
- Mrs. Freshley's Jumbo Honey Buns
According to most sources, the best-selling snack of all time is the potato chip – Americans will eat more than $6 billion worth this year. The top-selling chip brands include Lay's, Ruffles, Pringles, Utz, and Wise (none of which, we are proud to report, Sprouts sells).
But it's interesting to note that tastes may be changing. In a study of the 10 most popular snack brands released last month by YouGuv BrandIndex, no potato chip made the list. Another report, this one by the NPD Group/SnackTrack, indicates that the top afternoon snack foods include:
- Fresh fruit (a victory for the good guys!)
- Chocolate candy/candy bars
- Potato chips
- Breath mints/strips
- Non-chocolate candy
- Tortilla chips
The occasional Pringle or Oreo may help you get through the day, but keep this in mind: by consuming just 100 extra calories per day beyond what you need to maintain your weight, you can gain up to 10 pounds per year. So those tasty snack cakes mom lovingly tucked in our lunch boxes have left us with saddlebags, thunder thighs and jelly bellies.
These days it can be tricky to find a nutritious snack when you're on the go. Those that are seemingly healthy, such as yogurts, granola bars and fruit juices, may in some cases be laden with artificial ingredients and too much sugar. Celery sticks and baby carrots can get boring. So what's a Chronic Cruncher to do?
The answer is to get creative with your cravings. Add whimsy to your snacks and you'll never miss those trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and empty calories. And your kiddos might even get a little jealous and join in on the health kick when they see you nibbling on the likes of tropical fruit kabobs, thick and rich smoothies, or ants on a log made with fresh, homemade almond butter.
Sprouts has tons of snack foods that are just a little bit better for you. Our top 20 best sellers are:
- Yummy Earth Lollipops
- Panda Licorice Bars
- Green & Black Dark Cocoa Chocolate Bars
Bars and the Like
- Clif Bar (Crunchy Peanut Butter, White Chocolate Macadamia, Chocolate Chip)
- thinkThin Bars (Brownie and Crunchy Peanut Butter)
- Nature's Path Cherry Pomegranate Frosted Toaster Pastries
- EnviroKidz Crispy Rice Bar (Koala Chocolate, Cheetah Berry)
- Enjoy Life Snack Bar – Cocoa Loco
- Barbara's Bakery Berry Low Fat Cereal Bar
- Sprouts Veggie Chips
- Sprouts Tortilla Chips (Blue Corn, White Corn, Yellow Corn)
- Sprouts Roasted Seaweed
- Pop Chips
- Kettle Chips
- Sprouts Ginger Snaps, Lemon Snaps and Vanilla Wafers
- DeLallo Lady Fingers
- Kinnikinnick Animal Crackers
- Barbara's Bakery Snackimals Chocolate Chip
- Blue Diamond Nut Thins (Almond, Pecan, Cheddar Cheese)
- Sprouts Flatbread (Sesame, Combo)
Here are some other tips to take you to that in-between-meal wonderland.
Alternately pierce chunks of tropical fruit, such as pineapple, mango, banana, and kiwi or any combination on wooden skewers. Toothpicks work great for a petite treat. Drizzle lightly with honey or agave nectar and sprinkle with shredded, unsweetened coconut. Yum!
Throw a cup of almonds in a food processor with a small dollop of honey and blend until smooth. Add a little oil if the concoction is too thick. We recommend coconut oil for its mild taste and additional health benefits*. Smear on celery sticks and dot with raisins. Or use the almond butter to spread on sprouted bread toast and put those hunger pangs to rest!
(*Coconut oil contains lauric acid which helps in preventing heart problems, including high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. It also promotes healthy hair, skin, nails, and certain studies suggest it can help fight harmful bacteria.)
In a Rush Slush
Blend your favorite fruits together with plain yogurt, a little honey or agave nectar, and ice for a refreshingly, sweet satisfier. Add a little flax seed to get your Omega-3 fatty acids (good fats) and a fiber-packed protein punch!from the September, 2010 edition of Fresh Off the Press