Americans Now Consider Literally Anything a "Snack"

Seventy percent of Americans are down with the idea that four slices of pizza are a snack. Club sandwich with fries? It's a snack. Whole bag of Oreos? Snack.

Jul 13 2015, 9:00pm

Photo via Flickr user Steve Webster

There's breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

And then there's brunch, of course, on Saturdays and Sundays.

And then there are usually a few more snacks throughout the day and night.

Everyone also needs an afternoon snack, a pick-me-up. Sometimes it's an apple, but other times it's a slice of pizza, or a large bowl of frozen yogurt topped with cookie dough and miniature peanut butter tacos. Or, on a night out, you may need to pick up a midnight snack, which happens to be Fourthmeal if it takes place at Taco Bell, further justifying the 1:30 AM ingestion of a Cheesy Gordita Crunch and two bean burritos.

READ: Late-Night Snacking Can Make You Stupider

A snack is a muffin at 11 AM. A sandwich at 4 PM. A wedge of Brie and two-third of a box of Triscuits at 10:15 PM.

Like a frog slowly being boiled alive, we have come to accept that the idea of snack is no longer limited to a small Zip-Loc of carrot sticks or a single serving of Bagel Bites after school. In fact, a study has found that Americans, gluttonous reality-TV-loving fatasses that we are, love to snack. And by snack, we mean eat. Everything. All day long.

According to a new report titled Snacking Motivations and Attitudes US 2015 from market research group Mintel, 94 percent of Americans are snacking at least once a day.

That's fine and dandy—if you're eating, say, a clementine, or maybe a single strip of beef jerky. But what's more is that 70 percent of American adults assert that "anything can be a snack" in these crazy modern times we live in.

READ: The Best Drunken Snack of Your Life Is Served in a Black Plastic Bag

I don't get it guys: Why are so many of us obese? It's not because we're eating cheeseburgers and entire packages of Oreos in between meals, is it?

Well, that's not how all of these out-of-controls snackers are seeing it. About a third of respondents claim that they are snacking on healthier foods this year compared to last year. But with 62 percent of Americans snacking "to satisfy a craving," it seems fairly safe to assume that the majority aren't just dying for a rice cake or a fifth of a bag of kale chips. Do you daydream at your desk about sugar and cheese and lovely fluffy bready things, or about wheatgrass shots?

Roughly the same proportion of craving-indulgers also say that they are more concerned with the flavor of their salty snacks rather than their nutritional value. No shocks there.

Also falling into the "unsurprising" category: Millennials fucking love snacking. Roughly a quarter of those little Snapchat fiends snack four or more times every day, primarily out of boredom or stress. Totally understandable, though: When the Wifi's acting up, why not chill out with a trough of chicken nuggets?

READ: Korean Honey Butter Chip Hysteria Has Created a Snack Black Market

I wonder if it could have anything to do with the ever-narrowing attention spans of a world fixated on notifications and screens?

Amanda Topper, Mintel's food analyst, says, "Our research shows that Millennials are more likely to snack compared to older generations as a means to fulfill emotional and functional needs ... Older consumers did not grow up with all-day snacking and may continue to view snacks as treats."

And usually, they are treats. Only one-third of American snackers—which is essentially one-third of America on a whole—make any effort to limit their consumption of cookies, candy, and other sweets. Meaning that two out of three will happily have another midday doughnut, thank you.

There have been some statistical increase in the purchase of and conscientiousness toward eating healthy snacks specifically. But "healthy," as we all know, is a relative term.

But we have a pro tip: When your next snack attack strikes, make one of ours. We can't stop you from eating a whole platter of Bagel Bites, but we can suggest that you make them good ones.