Snacks Around the World, in Your Inbox

Snack Stack is a bite-sized newsletter about the cultural history of snacks from around the world. Each email focuses on the intriguing tale of one specific snack, celebrating it on its own terms but also considering it as a lens into larger and more complicated stories like:

Fresh snacks drop every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon (for most USA time zones).

Wednesday posts are free for everyone; to get all three snacks every week and access to the full pantry/archives, it’s just $5 per month (or $52 per year), which is a lot less than you spend on actual snacks.

You can read the archives right here or explore this map of all the featured snacks.

Why snacks?

  1. Snacks are joy. Everyone loves them and everyone snacks in different ways and that’s pretty cool. They’re the ultimate comfort food, something you turn to again and again to get you through the day, essential not because they provide sustenance but because they offer familiarity and satisfaction. 

  2. Snacks are a low-key wonder. You probably don’t think about them too much, but if you do stop and look a little deeper, there’s usually a riveting tale. I mean, at this very moment, Hollywood is working on a movie about the origin of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, which turns out to be a whole complicated, contentious thing.

  3. Snacks are highly specific to places and cultures, building on beloved flavors and ingredients—they’re localized populism in a ready-to-eat format. Right now, around the world, there are countless people munching on chapulines, prawn crisps, cokodok, poffertjes, Little Debbie Mini Panda Donuts, and a thousand other things crispy and gooey and sweet and savory and curiously tangy. Snack Stack is your introduction and a teeny-tiny window into places and cultures you might not know much about.

  4. Snacks provide a break from the bustle and noise of the word, and I want this newsletter to serve the same function.

Is it all ~weird~ snacks?

There are definitely some snacks you might not know or might find … not your personal style. But you will not see the words “weird,” “bizarre,” “exotic” (ugh), or anything like that here. What’s odd to one person is usually a normal fact of life to other people—it’s all subjective and dependent on what you’re used to, and that variation is good and delightful and worth understanding and appreciating.

Which is to say: you’ll find some snacks you’ve eaten in the last week and some you’ve never heard of at all, and either way you’ll learn something new and interesting and maybe get a bit hungry. 

What do you consider a “snack,” exactly?

We take a broad view of here. If it’s something that you might eat between meals (or even as a small standalone meal) or when you’re on the go, it’s a snack. It’s less about the serving size than an informal vibe—snacks are usually finger food made with just a few ingredients, and they typically represent a pause in your day rather than serving as an event unto itself.

Some of the snacks featured here are packaged corporate products (potato chips, Australian food-tubes); others are things you prepare yourself at home (brownies, ants on a log) or get from a street vendor (a cotton-candy crepe, a sandwich made with udder meat). Every now and then, we even have drinks (milkshake-like concoctions in India and Colombia; mauby from the Caribbean islands).

Are these long posts? I don’t have time for that.

Nope! Each post is full of deeply researched and fascinating information but it’s also (almost) always short, something to read and savor in just a minute or two⁠. It’s a bite-sized break, a quick escape from whatever’s happening in the world or your own life.

I have so many tabs open when I’m working on a post—everything from academic research databases to goofy YouTube videos—but I condense the best stuff into a small package just for you.

Why should I pay?

Here’s the value: Snack Stack is a thrice-weekly break from your busy life, cutting through the noise of the world to provide you with wonder, intrigue, and delight.

My goal is to make you—even the cynics—think, “Wow, that’s super interesting!” over and over again. This is one email you’ll want to read every single time (Snack Stack open rates are consistently in the 45%-50% range, way higher than most newsletters). And $5 a month is an amazing deal for all that, no?

Paid subscriptions support the work and allow me to continue offering you snacks—these posts take time and effort and it needs to be worth it for me, too! I enjoy writing this newsletter, but it also helps me pay my bills.

If you want to start with a free subscription—or if that’s what works for your bank account in the long term—it’s all good. Thanks for being here. I want as many people as possible to share the joy (and occasional heartbreak) of these snacks and their stories, which is why I offer one free post every single week. But if you’re able to pay, please do. I’d be so grateful and I know you’ll savor the extra helpings of snacks.

Who’s behind this? 

A journalist who wanted a place to write about snacks instead of the somewhat more serious things I usually cover.

I’ve been a travel and food writer for almost twenty years and Snack Stack is a continuation of my love of learning about the world.

You may have read some of my work here and there, but I’m not putting my name on this right now because I’d like to keep the focus on the snack stories—I want this newsletter to stand by itself. It’s more fun and less stressful that way. 

If you really want to know, here’s my real website, here’s my Twitter, and here’s my most recent book, which Smithsonian named one of the Top 10 Travel Books of the Year.

Is any of this sponsored content?

Absolutely not. I do not accept money or products or any other compensation from the makers of the snacks I write about. It’s seriously just whatever I think is interesting on a given day. 

What’s your favorite snack?

Tortilla chips and maybe a good salsa, something with a real kick.

Sounds great!  

Cool. I think you’ll like it. Hit that subscribe button and let’s enjoy some snacks.