The 15 Best New(ish) Snacks We've Ever Tasted
Come one, come all: Food52's search for the tastiest treat begins now.
We've been eating a lot of snacks recently. "Why?" you might wonder. Well, for science—but also for our newest tradition at Food52. Meet The Crunchies: Our search for the best new(ish) snack out there.
To put it simply, we're celebrating all kinds of tasty treats from small businesses that have us really excited right now. That means creative chips, nouveau jerky, flavorful popcorn, inventive crackers, and so much more. As you might imagine, it took a lot of team taste-testing to to get to our top 15 nominees—hard work, but someone's gotta do it!—and you can bet that these snacks are really frickin’ good.
What's next? These contenders will take a spin in the hands of five esteemed judges (watch this space for more on that soon!), and the top three faves will be crowned The Crunchiest. Let's be real, though: Everyone's a winner here!
Now without further ado, read on learn more about our nominees, listed in no particular order.
BEHAVE Sour Bears: Gummies With Real Flavor
Gummies are one of those things you never quite grow out of, and BEHAVE proves that there’s no reason to: These have a lot of flavor to them! Okay, fine, you’re not exactly like “wow, this is exactly what a fresh lychee tastes like” but you are maybe saying “wow, these gummies are surprisingly complex in a good way.”
- Launched in 2020 by Mayssa Chehata, who wanted to create candy without artificial ingredients that still tasted delicious
- Comes in 3 flavors: raspberry, passionfruit, lychee
- Low-sugar (yes, really)
- Developed with chef Elizabeth Falkner
Ffups Professional Salt & Vinegar Chips: Melt-In-Your-Mouth Puffs With a Serious Vinegar Tang
We’re suckers for two things: Good puffs and good branding. Ffups (yes, that's “puffs” spelled backwards…sort of) succeeds with both. This is a puff for a salt-and-vinegar lover and this is a brand that’s sure of itself. It’s got little winks everywhere, from the flavor names themselves to a truly whimsical website. We support a snack that knows what it is.
- Launched in 2022 by Sam Tichnor, or according to the website, “a bunch of people who like snacks that taste good and felt that the puff needed more flavors”
- They’re not a better-for-you alternative (their words!)
- The shelf life is 6 months
Yolélé Greens! Fonio Chips: The Chips the Food52 Team Can’t Stop Eating
If it sounds like we’re gushing, it’s because we are. All of our tasters unanimously loved these fonio chips. Made with baobab fruit powder (tangy!) and moringa (nutrient-dense!), the Greens! Flavor has just the right amount of spice that you could pair these chips with a dip, but also just eat them on their own by the handful.
- Launched in 2017 by chef Pierre Thiam and food industry vet Philip Teverow
- Fonio is a gluten-free ancient grain that’s light and fluffy, with a slightly nutty and earthy flavor. It’s a staple of West African cuisine.
Gwell Peach & Pomegranate Tea Cookies: The Afternoon Pick-Me-Up, Hopefully With Tea
Imagine the scene: It’s mid-afternoon. You’re sitting on a porch. There’s tea. There’s a breeze. These cookies appear. Everything is pleasant. And sometimes a pleasant cookie is what you need: Not too complex, not too in-your-face, not too sweet. It’s just…pleasant.
- Launched by Fawziyya Sugai; in 2020 she was Pop Up Grocer Fund recipient from over 200 applicants
- Gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan
- Gwell is Welsh for “better”
Hungry Bird Fennel + Onion Crackers: A “Healthy” Cracker We Would Eat If It Wasn’t
This thick and seedy Scandinavian-style crispbread is the kind of thing that you’d think you’d stop eating after say, three of them. Well, despite their heft, we can just keep going and going with these. The fennel + onion is present, but not overwhelming or super anise-y. So get yourself an avocado, butter, jam, or cheese and a pack of these. We guarantee no better mid-afternoon snack.
- Re-launched in 2020 by founder Tina Diep; originally launched in 2016 after finding out her son was allergic to nuts and soy. Thus…
- Allergen-friendly: No eggs, dairy, soy, peanuts, tree nuts or shellfish
China Live Peking Duck Fat Popcorn: Sweet Popcorn with Subtle Salty Notes
China Live has nailed the sweet-meets-savory popcorn game here, thanks to a rich caramel mixed with super savory duck fat. We’d be remiss not to highlight the kernels themselves, though: They’re excellently rotund and larger than most other kernels we’ve come across. Each bite really feels like something substantial, rather than bits of popcorn left mostly stuck in your teeth.
- No butter here: That’s where the duck fat comes in
- This is a signature dessert at China Live, a San Francisco-based restaurant where 60 Peking ducks are roasted and sold each day for items like Peking Duck in Sesame Packets and the Peking Duck Chopped Salad
- Chef George Chen started playing around with duck fat popcorn in 2017 (there was a lot of fat leftover from the dishes mentioned above!) but didn’t start selling it until COVID started in 2020, when the restaurant needed to pivot to meal kit and to-go options
Pan's Zesty Thai Mushroom Jerky: A Snack That Really Stands On Its Own
These are not mushrooms pretending to be meat. These are shiitake mushrooms proud to exert their umami energy. The jerky is only slightly chewy, and seasoned beautifully with spices like tomato powder, lemon peel, cilantro, and lots more (is it Thai? Ehh…more like waving in the general direction of Thailand). A snack quite different than anything else we’ve tasted.
- Launched in 2018 by Michael Pan, who was inspired by his family’s Malaysian and vegetarian Buddhist heritage
- Vegan, soy-free, gluten-free, paleo-friendly
- These snacks were featured on Shark Tank
BAM Snacks Black Gram Chips: A Crunchy Chip With No Potatoes or Corn
This is a very sturdy chip, but that doesn’t mean it’s hard to eat—just that it has some heft to it. It’s not pretending to be a potato chip (doesn’t have as salty of a vibe) or a tortilla chip (it really doesn’t taste like one at all). Instead, it’s just its own thing, made from black gram, which is a type of South Asian bean. If you love papadam, check this out. It’s got its own moves and style, and doesn’t need to copy anyone else’s.
- Launched in 2020 by Roxanne Irani, who grew up eating black gram crackers her mom would bring back from India
- Black gram is grown in India, and is a good source of protein and fiber
Carolyn's Cheddar Krisps: A Cheesy Cookie-Cracker That’s Totally Vegan
This hybrid cookie-cracker (looks like a cookie, crunches like a cracker) is for the cheese lover who is vegan or lactose-intolerant. As in, there’s no actual cheese in these thick and sturdy krisps. These actually feel like a substantial snack: While we could certainly eat Cheez-Its by the handful, when it comes to Carolyn’s Cheddar Krisps, we take our time thanks to the size and the thickness of each krisp. And the fact that they’re just really tasty.
- Launched in 2020 by Amie Kesler, and named after late Granny Carolyn who made them for holiday get togethers
- Vegan, gluten-free
Jai Mix Spicy Toasted Coconut & Ginger: So Much Happening (In a Good Way) Here
Jai Mix proves there is no such thing as too much of a good thing: Crispy rice flakes, toasted coconut, crystallized ginger, cashews, peanuts, chiles, and spices are in fact a very happy family together. (Just ask the traditional Indian snack, chivda, of which Jai Mix is reminiscent). Clearly, there’s enough going on here that it makes a great snack on its own, but we also love Jai Mix as a topping for yogurt dips and salads.
- Launched in 2019 by Nichole Nurenberg, who took samples to her local independent grocery stores and left with orders from seven markets before she even went into production
- An Ayurvedic snack based on the principle of six tastes: salty, astringent, pungent, bitter, sour, and sweet
West~bourne Sun Pop: Flavor-Packed Popcorn With Just the Right Amount of Spice
When California-inspired, NYC-based all-day cafe west~bourne closed in 2020, customers mourned the loss of one of the best savory breakfasts in the city. But founder Camilla Marcus resurrected it as a grocery e-tailer, where many of the beloved west~bourne flavors still have a home, like this oh-so-slightly-spicy popcorn. It’s heavy on the nutritional yeast (a good thing), with clear notes of turmeric and cayenne.
- Launched as online store in late 2021 by Camilla Marcus, co-founder of ROAR (Restaurants Organizing Advocating Rebuilding) and a founding member of the IRC (Independent Restaurant Coalition)
- The popcorn is harvested, popped, and packaged at a family-owned facility that dates back three generations
- Organic, vegan, gluten-free
- The bag is fully compostable
Neptune Sweet Citrus Ginger Fish Jerky: Guess What? We’re Into Fish Jerky
This has the jerky chew we’re all familiar with, but the taste is well, fishy without being fishy. We love the citrus and ginger notes—it’s a snack that commands attention not only because you’re chewing on it for a bit, but because you perhaps don’t often munch on dried fish with sweet-gingery elements. It’s…fun!
- Launched in 2018 by Nick Mendoza, who worked in marine science and sustainable aquaculture, including on three trans-Pacific research expeditions
- Each snack bag is 100% traceable: scan the QR code to find out where the fish is from, when it was caught, and more
Lentil House Smoked Paprika & Sea Salt: Fried Lentils, What’s Not to Like?
You know how crispy chickpeas have been all the culinary rage for a while? Crispy lentils deserve the same adulation. These little pops of crunch are brightened with just the right amount of paprika and salt, making them great to have on their own, or alongside, well, pretty much anything.
- Launched in 2018 by teacher-turned-entrepreneur, Sharlay Smith, who grew up making fried lentils with her mom for family movie night
- Vegan, organic
- The Lentil House suggests pairing their lentils with—get this!—ice cream!
Moonshot Margherita Pizza Crackers: The Crackers We Can Eat A Lot Of
There are the [brand name redacted] crackers that you eat because you need a vehicle for cheese or various condiments or whatnot, and then there are the crackers you eat because the crackers themselves are rather excellent. These are the latter. Not too thick, not too thin. Not overly spiced but certainly not bland. Just exactly what a cracker should be.
- Launched in 2020 by founder Julia Collins, who wanted to create a climate-friendly snack after finding out she was going to be a mom
- Planet FWD, Moonshot’s sister company, works to pair small producers with other brands focused on being climate-friendly
Persephone Wild West Animal Grahams: Take Us to This Bakery Immediately
With no disrespect to the more mass-market graham products you’re likely familiar with, these are better by a long shot, thanks to the crispy and lacy edges. They're the animal crackers you didn’t know were missing from your life, but once you found them, you can never leave them. They are a part of us now. We are attached, we are one, we are forever.
- Developed and launched in 2018
- Made by Persephone Bakery in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
- Don't sleep on Persephone Bakery’s Rice Krispie treats, either (the sprinkles change seasonally!)
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