The ‘Snack’ Occasion Continues to Grow

Smaller portions a major trend going into 2013

NEW YORK -- “Snacking” continues to increase in the United States and in quick-service restaurants, according to report in Time magazine.

According to a study conducted a couple years ago, the number of fast-food menus featuring the word “snack” tripled from 2007 to 2010. The nation’s snacking seems to have only picked up pace since then, according to the report.

QSRweb named “snacks” as one of the top QSR trends for 2012, listing just a few of the many new snacks introduced lately: “The day-part between lunch and dinner continues to grow, buoyed by snack-sized launches such as McDonald’s Chicken McBites, Jack in the Box’s Mini Corn Dogs, KFC’s Original Chicken Bites, Pretzelmaker’s Pretzel Bites,” etc.

Likewise, National Restaurant Association named “half-portions/smaller portions for a smaller price” as one of its top trends to watch out for in 2013. Restaurant consultants such as Baum & Whiteman are also highlighting the “Snackification of America” in 2013 trend reports, with more and more “minis” appearing at “fast-food chains, adding impulse revenue to between-meal shoulder hours.”

What’s with the onslaught of snacks? Whatever happened to three square meals per day? Well, the truth is it’s been a long time since snacks and snacking between meals have universally been considered bad things, according to the magazine.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta wrote in 2008: “You can forget the no-snacking rule. Snacks can actually help stabilize your blood-sugar level, making it easier to curb your cravings come meal time.”

Restaurants have caught on to the idea that a snack is often viewed as a healthier alternative to wolfing down an entire fast-food combo meal. Snacks also cost less than typical entrees, and since most snacks are small, even bite-size, and are often designed to eat at any time of day, they’re especially suitable for today’s on-the-go consumers.