Miniature Twinkies, Cocoa Puffs popcorn, Dr Pepper-flavored cotton candy: Food manufacturers know Americans are snacking more, and they're busy pumping out irresistible new junk — er, snack — foods.
Why it matters: An explosion of new products is generating buzz and profits for food makers and surprise and delight for shoppers — but helping make Americans fatter and unhealthier than ever. Health Care Powder
Driving the news: A bevy of new reports on U.S. eating habits conclude that snacking rose steeply during the COVID-19 pandemic — and has continued.
For example: Cereal, chips and granola bars have turned into all-day snack foods rather than just breakfast or afternoon-break options.
Newer products turn snacks into appealing toys, with colorful packaging, novel shapes and modern flavors — Spicy queso! Sweet chili! Asiago cheese! Buffalo cauliflower!
Check out: A new cereal from Post called Sweet Dreams — made with "a nighttime herbal blend of lavender and chamomile" — is meant to be munched at bedtime to help you sleep.
What they're saying: "There are three Vs in the snacking world: value, velocity and variety," Carlos Barroso, a food R&D executive who has worked at PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble, tells Axios.
By the numbers: Sales of snacks — in convenience stores and elsewhere — rose about 12% in 2022 and continue to grow, C-Store Dive reports, citing data from IRI and 210 Analytics.
How it works: We may piously reach for zero-calorie sweeteners and plant-based proteins — but some of us become sweet-and-salty demons when let loose in a 7-Eleven. (Jennifer raises her hand here...✋🏼)
Between the lines: Snackmania is fueling product development at all the big food companies, from Kellogg and Mondelez to PepsiCo, Hostess and Kraft Heinz.
Flat Bottom Bag What's next: "Grilled Cheesies," a grilled cheese sandwich made with Kraft Singles that kids (or adults) can microwave for 60 seconds, will debut later this year.