The snacks for a new year
How do you measure a year? In daylights? In sunsets? In midnights? In plates of nachos?
Hello, Snackers. Here's a grab-bag of goodies. A look back, a look ahead, a look to turn heads.
Before we get there, LAST CALL: All year-long Snack Stack subscriptions are 50% off through December 31, 2022. That's today! Get it while it's hot! A mere $26 for a giant serving of tasty content! (Clicking either button below will get you the half-off deal.)
A look back (at 2022)
First, thank you all so much for reading this little newsletter. Here are some quick highlights of the last 525,600
nachos minutes in the life of a newsletter (if you want less awkward bragging and more Interesting Content, skip to the next section):
1,995: Number of people who joined the free list in 2022.
50%: Minimum open rate for any Snack Stack post in 2022. At least half of the recipients opened every single email. That’s incredible and I genuinely appreciate it.
About 2,300: Typical number of readers for free posts for the last few months of the year. I know that's a tiny amount by most online media metrics, but it’s still cool to know that, like, an entire theater’s worth of people read my nerdy histories of devils on horseback or everything bagels.
11: Number of fellows, including me, selected for the Substack Food Writers Intensive last spring. I got to have genuinely fascinating and lively conversations with a group of talented newsletter-writers every week for three months. So fun.
4, I think? Number of other freelance pieces that came directly from Snack Stack, including my first stories for Smithsonian.com (on official state foods), Saveur (on jalapeño poppers), and Gastro Obscura (on the politics of hot dogs), and reported a podcast episode for Proof (on old-fashioned candy). I also recorded a segment for Minnesota Public Radio about official state foods, talked to the Toronto Star about state fair foods, and joined the former Simpsons showrunner Bill Oakley for a conversation with his Steamed Hams Society.
The year’s most popular Snack Stack posts (by page views):
The snack that swims down your throat. A history of goldfish-swallowing and its brief but big cultural moment
The snack that comforts me. On microwave nachos, anxiety, and parenting during a pandemic
Cincinnati is the best food city in the USA. Maybe. Notes on food rankings, understanding the Midwest, and what we talk about when we talk about culinary scenes
My own favorites that didn’t get as many readers, but I thought they were pretty great:
Chocolate chip cookies and other lies. Notes on food origin stories and the mythology of the things we eat.
The snacks students sell in schools. An interview with a researcher who investigated the history and sociology of students selling snacks and candy in high schools.
The snack that's cut in squares, not triangles. Investigating the roots of square-cut pizza, that great delicacy of the Midwest.
A look ahead (that’s also a look back to before 2022)
The end of the year has brought the usual glut of “What’s coming next?” predictions, including in the food world. A few different publications have dates pegged as the next big thing, a fact I learned after I put that date ad from 1959 at the top of this post, whoa.
(Also, I’m sorry, but this New York Times prediction piece is the most maddening and confusing of the bunch, with several quotes that are clearly just PR folks pushing their company’s product in the guise of forecasting trends. This includes, for example, a PepsiCo Foods spokeswoman gushing about mini canisters of Cheetos because they, uh, promote community. What?!)
Anyway, here are a few food-trend predictions of the past, for your enjoyment:
1953: Lemons will replace salt on the dinner table (Sunkist ad in LIFE magazine).
Also 1953: Americans will start serving more informal food and California wines at dinner parties, and the proliferation of ranch houses will include more and more kitchens designed for entertaining. (Also an ad from LIFE…but this one checks out.)
1979: Analyst Peter Mattson “predicted the rise of Mexican food, convenience cooking (one-pan dinners), and bake-in-bag technology.” (From The Tastemakers by David Sax.)
Early 2010s: Kale salad, according to analyst Barb Stuckey, who told David Sax that “slowly but surely, the kale salad will make its way to TGI Friday’s menu, then McDonald’s, Kraft, and, eventually, as a Doritos flavor.” (Ibid.)
A look to turn heads
I’m gonna get weird here (weirder than usual!) but I want to offer a fashion prediction for 2023: Everyone will be wearing clothes that show off their favorite snacks.
Start building your spicy-chic wardrobe with (clockwise from top left) a Takis hoodie ($10.61 via Wish), a subtle poutine baseball cap ($30.99 via Etsy, can be monogrammed), a deviled egg fascinator ($115, custom order via Etsy, other options include blueberry pancakes, a bowl of ramen, or biscuits and gravy), or a t-shirt showing how shawarma represents the peak of human evolution ($28.32 via Redbubble).
OR … Try the Snack Stack Swag Store like these beautiful people and beautiful water bottles! So gorgeous, right? Get the look with a shirt or sticker of your own. (Did I add the clothing above so I would feel less awkward about promoting my own merch? Maybe!)
Happy New Year and happy snacking! Thanks for being here.
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