If I could eat snacks for all my meals, I would. While I love sitting down for the occasional multi-course dinner affair, grazing, sampling, and nibbling are more my speed. This has been true for as long as I can remember.
These days, my usual snack is an apple with peanut butter, some brie and dried cranberries, or a few handfuls (or more) of nutty, crunchy granola—heavy on the clusters and clumps, of course. But when I'm feeling especially nostalgic, or even a little blue, there's nothing that comforts me more than a few standbys from my childhood. They take me back to simpler times of opening my lunchbox to discover what was tucked beneath my sandwich, of speeding home from school for the inevitable snack break before math homework. Notable favorites were (and still are) Goldfish, Cheez-Its, Fruit Roll-Ups, Pop-Tarts, and all manner of cereals my mom wouldn't let me eat except for on my birthday.
Flavor and texture-wise, many of my childhood favorites seem expected enough: crunchy-salty-cheesy, chewy-fruity, fudgy-rich. But they all have this quality that's hard to pin down—a pinch of magic that gets mixed in before they're packaged. Pop-Tarts have a jammy, strawberry flavor that isn't quite like what I smear on my toast. (And the little sprinkle dust on top? Where does it come from and how can I buy it in bulk to put on everything?) Tater tots are tender, crumbly, and crispy morsels of grated potato, but I've never been able to tame my tubers in that way. Goldfish taste like cheese (and have the merry yellow hue to match), but a cheese that's a bit different from the Cheddar I know.
When encountering exceptionally delicious foods, I often muse about whether what I'm eating is possible to make at home (is this normal? Just me?), and make a mental note to recreate them if so. And each time I do this, I wonder, will this taste as good as the original? This has been no different where snacks are concerned; in their case, I thought not on both counts and avoided trying for that reason.
Cue Chloe Coscarelli, chef, winner of Cupcake Wars, and creator of all things plant-based and delicious. It seems Chloe had a similar hankering for homemade childhood treats, wondered how she could make them as easy and authentic-tasting as possible, and proved me wrong in thinking both couldn't be done. In her newest book, Chloe Flavor, she includes a recipe for Goldfish crackers that skips the Cheddar in favor of a few smart vegan swaps. Still, the crackers are as savory, flaky, and toasty as my favorite smiley snacks—a little different in flavor than the ones from Pepperidge Farm, but simple and satisfying nonetheless.
Discovering Chloe's surprisingly simple recipe, which paid enormous dividends (the yield is 10 dozen crackers!), took me down a nostalgic rabbit hole. What more childhood snacks could I make easily and affordably? Have I been missing out by not trying these earlier? Only one way (or 14) to find out.
Not just for breakfast
Snacky Meals ("Smeals")
What were your favorite snacks as a kid? And have you ever tried making them at home? Let us know in the comments (and share the recipes, please)!
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoons onion powder
- ⅛ teaspoons ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper (optional)
- 5 tablespoons vegan margarine
- 3 tablespoons very cold tap water