Snack Test Kitchen

By Randy Liedtke

Randy Liedtke lives and works in Los Angeles. When the going gets tough, he snacks on sandwiches, but when the tough get going, he prefers honey roasted peanuts.


In today’s current food climate, snacks, for many people, are about convenience. If not in preparation, at least in consumption. Something easy to either whip up, pop in your mouth, or both. Because convenience plays such an important role in snacks, many times the consumer just goes with the flow, and is basically told what to snack on. You want a snack, not a project that takes up your time and critical thinking. And you especially don’t want to be left with something you end up not enjoying.

Much like the first person to dunk pretzels in peanut butter, I am here to take the risks for you. I will dive deep into taste and texture combinations most people in need of a snack wouldn’t think of. Why am I doing this? For the rare chance that I stumble upon the next big thing in snacks, and so you, the consumer, can have more options.


Chex Mix Test Flavor #1 (Salt Lover’s Anchovy)

The recipe for this Chex Mix is much like a traditional one, but with a little bit of tweaking. Salt is experiencing a comeback, and for people who love salt, that’s great news. But even with the comeback in full swing it is easy to add too much salt. There are ways to use salt which will make something taste saltier while using less actual salt. Such as applying salt on the surface of an item rather than cooking it into an item. I use this method liberally. Even using low sodium soy sauce in the baking process, so I could add more salt at the end. Also different types of salts have different shapes and water contents, so they dissolve at different rates; so using different salts for different reasons is a smart idea. I used four types of salt in this recipe. Also the anchovies add a secondary salty flavor that are definitely salty, but most wouldn’t describe them that way. All of these plans to make this Chex Mix really salty but not too salty aside, it ended up being a bit too salty. Back to the drawing board.

Chocolate-Covered Shrimp

Like most people, I love chocolate. Chocolate doesn’t pair well with absolutely everything but you’d be surprised at some of the things it actually works great with. I used to hate the idea of chocolate and fruit together, but their contrasting tastes and textures really sing together. Also more savory items are making an appearance alongside chocolate lately. Salt and chocolate are very popular, and chocolate has been used in mole and chili recipes for a long time. I wanted to try chocolate with something I had never seen before but I also wanted to play it a little safe. Shrimp was an easy decision; it’s popular, approachable and slightly sweet. I knew I was onto something; it had all the makings of classic snack food: It is appealing, bite sized, and the tails make a perfect handle for easy eating. You can buy already cooked chilled shrimp, or buy shrimp raw and cook and chill yourself. Either way, pat dry with a paper towel before dipping. You can find “step by step” recipes for chocolate-dipped strawberries all over the Internet. Basically follow those recipes but replace the strawberries with shrimp.

Peanut Butter and Jelly, and Lettuce

Americans have grown up with peanut butter and jelly. The combination of the two doesn’t surprise us. But in other countries the combination of peanut butter and jelly seems strange and unappealing. This is the perfect snack creation that at first probably seemed weird, but now most Americans don’t even question it. I decided to take a playful twist on the PB&J; it’s something I’ve had success with in the past. Slowly making small modifications to a classic to see what works is a safe place to start when creating snacks. You are more likely to have success when you are already starting with something proven, and if you run into some problems, it is easy to pinpoint them. Not all sandwiches play by the same rules, but I love lettuce on just about all sandwiches, so why would PB&J be any different? I couldn’t believe I had never thought of it before. Lettuce adds a crisp texture and a nice, cool, refreshing taste. At first it might seem like it wouldn’t work in a PB&J, but think about dipping apple slices in peanut butter; somehow the crisp, watery apple slice really works. I see the lettuce as being the perfect flavor middle-ground between salty peanut butter and super-sweet jelly. But to be honest, this recipe needs a little more work. Next time I would use different bread; the wheat bread was a little overpowering. Also a different lettuce besides iceberg might really twist things up.