It’s 1861 and you’re leaving home to fight in a war. You have room for one snack in your gunnysack. What do you bring?
Not knowing much about antebellum U.S. snack fare, our first guess was going to be something grim and awful, like a piece of birch bark dipped in beef tallow or a pig’s foot preserved in maple syrup. But if the popular song is to be believed,
It’s 1908 and your dad brings home the first car you’ve ever seen. He tells you to jump in. What snack do you bring on your first car ride?
Horehound candies, which are like a better, more herbaceous version of those old Brach’s Root Beer Barrels (which are too sweet for me). Hard candy is a safe bet for an open-top car exposed to the elements. It also mitigates the threat of getting bugs in your mouth (BUGS: NOT A GOOD SNACK).
It’s 1969 and you’re sitting cross-legged on a shag carpet, watching the moon landing on TV. Which snack fills the large plastic bowl in front of you?
The era-appropriate choice seems like Pillsbury Space Food Sticks, but because we’ve never had them (I’m imagining a less-good Astronaut Ice Cream), it’d be a bit of a gamble. Instead, we’ll have a big bowl of Nacho Cheese Bugles, plus all the Bugle variations that didn’t make it out of the 1960s—Flutes, Whistles, Crowns, Daisies, Buttons, Bows, and Wheels. Bugles (and Wheels and so forth) are future food—they don’t resemble anything natural in shape, texture, or taste. Even a Pringles chip attempts to look vaguely like a potato chip, but a Bugle makes no such effort, which is weirdly admirable.
It’s New Year’s Eve 1999 and the threat of Y2K is looming. Which snack do you use to calm your nerves?
Finally, we can speak from experience! The most ‘90s choice would be a King Size Reese’s NutRageous bar and a bottle of Surge (or failing that, Taco Bell Baja Blast Mountain Dew, which looked like window cleaner and tasted like limeade) while coding ActionScript in a basement computer lab. Facial piercings and ripped jeans optional.
It’s 2014 and you’re writing an email. What are you putting into your face?
Avocado toast with lots of black pepper. But probably nothing. Yeah, we’re those people now.