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Photo-Illustration: Courtesy of the Vendors
If you follow our monthly Strategist Haul, you’re familiar with the idiosyncrasies of our editors’ and writers’ shopping habits. Generally, we report our shopping highlights — the stylish sleeveless snap cardigans, excellent Susan Choi novels, and especially complex sesame oil we’ve procured in any given month. But there are plenty of other more mundane things we buy — and love — on the regular too. So whether you’ve wondered about the work bags we tote around or the underwear we’re most loyal to, this is the Stuff We Buy Ourselves. In this edition, the snacks our editors and writers have been relying on to get through social distancing.
Maxine Builder, managing editor
The best innovation to happen in packaged snack foods since the creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos is the extension of the Flamin’ Hot line. Of course, I still love the original (and am known to eat them with metal chopsticks, straight out of the bag, so as not to stain my fingers), but the discovery of Flamin’ Hot Funyuns and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Popcorn has really expanded my mind and my taste buds. The best Flamin’ Hot snack I’ve found to date, however, is Smartfood Flamin’ Hot White Cheddar Popcorn. It’s cheesy and spicy and makes me cry if I eat it too fast, just the way I like it. I went through two-thirds of a full-size bag last Thursday — a day after I bought it — and I was considering breaking my rule of going grocery shopping once a week, just to get some more, until I discovered you could buy it online.
$3 at Instacart
$4 at Target
Casey Lewis, senior editor
$19 for 2
I bought what felt like plenty of Girl Scouts cookies before all of this began, but my Samoas and Tagalongs are disappearing fast — so I ordered a bunch more through Girl Scouts Cookie Care, which lets you order your GS favorites online (for, I think, the first time ever).
$19 for 2 at Amazon
Jessica Silvester, contributing editor
$17 for 2
You don’t have to stir this stuff. You can just hit it straight out of the jar, which is exactly what I do, all times of day — sometimes as a midmorning snack, but even more often as a pre-bedtime dessert, because this particular brand is so silky it’s like eating a nutty melted ice cream. Apparently Soom is a favorite of Danny Bowien and other chefs, but I don’t use it for cooking (I don’t cook) — just spoon-feeding myself. And the only reason I discovered it in the first place is because my previous go-to, the very delicious Seed + Mill, sadly vanished from Whole Foods, and I went and Googled like mad to find the closest possible replacement. Meanwhile, Soom is getting harder and harder to find — so now I’m seriously considering purchasing this $100 bucket of Seed + Mill.
$17 for 2 at Soom
Alexis Swerdloff, Strategist editor
$20 for 6
Former Strategist editor Simone Kitchens turned me on to these rice cakes which taste like vaguely flavorful, crunchy air — but I truly love them, and they are a good vehicle for peanut butter.
$20 for 6 at Amazon
A similarly shaped (but much less virtuous) snack that’s the big treat of our household at the moment is cinnamon-raisin Thomas English muffins. My 19-month-old son has even figured out where we keep them and rushes over to the corner of the kitchen and begs for them like a dog.
Katy Schneider, senior editor
$22 for 2
I am a date fiend. In before-time, I’d buy them in bulk at Dimes Deli (they had the fattest, most delicious dates out there). Now I’ve just been picking up whatever I can find at my local market in Connecticut. (They’ve mostly been terrible: hard as rocks and basically flavorless.) But two friends have recommended two different date-delivery services. One is called Rancho Meladuco Date Farm (the friend who recommended these says they came quickly and are “so delicious and caramelly”); the other is called Joolies. I am making all of my bad dates into smoothies (dates, almond milk, vanilla, and cinnamon), and am waiting on my Rancho Meladuco dates to snack on plain.
$22 for 2 at Amazon
$24 for 2 at Joolies
Dominique Pariso, writer
$20 for 24
Violets have been around since the 1930s, and I don’t think anything about them, from the packaging to the flavor, has changed. My mom always kept a pack in her purse, and I’ve started stress-eating them throughout the day. While mints serve a purpose, Violets are just for pleasure. But be warned: These square, purple pastilles are polarizing. They taste just like the flower for which they are named, which fans such as myself would describe as delightfully botanical, and which naysayers would liken to “sucking on a bottle of perfume.”
$20 for 24 at Amazon
$30 for 12
My supply of Season sardines — which I buy from Costco — have been a lifesaver. They’re perfect for when it’s suddenly 3 p.m., and I realize I haven’t eaten anything all day; I just need a squeeze of lemon and a tablespoon of capers to get an instant protein pick-me-up.
$30 for 12 at Amazon
Kayla Levy, intern
Nut butters are my comfort foods of choice, but because one of my roommates is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, I’ve doubled down on my commitment to tahini during quarantine. It’s creamy and nutty but doesn’t contain either of those allergens, and it pairs well with savory and sweet foods — from Alison Roman’s go-to lemony tahini dressing, to Danielle Oron’s salted-tahini-chocolate-chip cookies, and just about everything in Yotam Ottolenghi’s Middle Eastern–food empire. I’m also known to eat the paste straight from the jar.
$7 at Instacart
Popcorn is the Platonic ideal of snacks: It can be topped with salt and pepper, or butter and sugar, and pairs just as well with M&M’s as it does with wine. Since we don’t have a microwave, I’ve been making popcorn in a pot on the stove, just like writer Laura Lippman.
Chloe Anello, junior writer
My snacks are not very fun thanks to my plethora of dietary restrictions. But if you’re in the market for a gluten-free cracker, these are the best. They’re crunchy and flavorful. I mostly eat them plain, but I’m sure they’d be great with toppings. And for something a bit more spunky, I recommend the Rosemary & Olive Oil flavor.
$4 at Instacart
$30 for 8
Snyder’s gluten-free pretzels get all the attention, but this Quinn brand really deserves more credit. They’re thinner than Snyder’s and much crispier. They also don’t have quite as much salt, so I’m not dying for water after I eat a handful. I also like the individual bags because they prevent me from mindlessly eating too many.
$30 for 8 at Amazon
$40 for 6
I really love chocolate, but since I’m lactose intolerant (among other things), I can’t eat most chocolaty snacks. This allows me to have a hit of chocolate, without making myself sick.
$40 for 6 at Amazon
Tembe Denton-Hurst, writer
$24 for 12
I’m not really a chip person, but Voodoo chips hit different. My partner brought them back after a trip to Atlanta (pre–social distancing), and I was instantly hooked. They’re salty and crunchy and the flavor is a tasty mix of barbecue and salt and vinegar. These aren’t available at my local grocery store, but luckily I found them online, and you can purchase them by the boxload.
$24 for 12 at Amazon
$63 for 18
These are available at my local grocery store and have become the perfect post-dinner dessert. I love cheesecake filling but don’t love the graham-cracker crust, so this is ideal for my taste buds. You can eat them as is or zhuzh them up — my partner likes to create a berry compote with cinnamon and nutmeg that she drizzles on top — and they’re from Junior’s, so you know they’re incredible.
$63 for 18 at Junior's
I’ve started taking all my normal snacks to the next level, namely my Fage yogurt. I mix in the fruit compote that comes with the yogurt, then add in this granola, which makes it more filling and gives it a satisfying crunch.
$6 at Instacart
Anthony Rotunno, senior editor
$37 for 50
Even in quarantine, my husband has refused to give up his self-imposed ban on eating carbs six days a week. So most of the stuff we’ve been buying to snack on, like bananas and clementines, are not really snacks. But for his Carb Day (which is usually on Saturday), we always have a fresh stock of Doritos to munch on. We buy Doritos mostly because they’re more readily available than other, fancier chips at stores near us, but also because they’re the chip we both grew up on. A third, genuinely serious reason: Now that loss of taste is a symptom of COVID-19, the deliciously artificially cheesy chips are something we can use to test our palates in a pinch. While they’re still easyish to find at stores, Doritos are harder to come by online at retailers like Amazon — but thankfully unexpected sources like Staples and Office Depot seem to still have a good supply.
$37 for 50 at Staples
$33 for 50 at Office Depot
Karen Iorio Adelson, senior writer
I’m currently staying with my in-laws who are big Vienna Fingers fans. Those were sold out on FreshDirect for their last order, so they bought these instead. I have to say, they’re delicious. I love regular Oreos and am generally a chocolate person whenever that’s an option, but these are surprisingly good. I’ve been sneaking one or two from the cabinet when I need a little snacking fix during the day, and they really hit the spot — sweet, crunchy, and with that sweet Oreo filling we all know.
$6 at Mercato
Hilary Reid, writer
I’m an olive fiend under normal circumstances, and my intake has increased over the past few weeks. The latest jar is these Bernal Arbequina ones, which are about the size of a niçoise but with a slightly almondy taste. They’re ideal for eating while standing in front of the fridge or out of a ramekin at my desk.
$5 at Despaña
I have an insane sweet tooth, which makes it basically impossible to resist the basket of halvah bars by the register at my bodega. The fact that they’re made from sesame almost tricks me into thinking they’re not that unhealthy — and they go surprisingly well with the olives.
$2 at Economy Candy
Rio Viera-Newton, writer
$50 for 12
If I’m being perfectly honest, I can easily get through a bag of these chips in under an hour because they are just so delicious and incredibly addictive. Salty but not too salty, spicy but not too spicy, they are truly what I consider to be the perfect snacking chip. They’re also very versatile — flavorful enough to eat on their own but also taste insanely good as a dipping agent in guacamole and even hummus. When I do my grocery shopping, I buy about four bags of these so I’m properly stocked.
$50 for 12 at Amazon
Louis Cheslaw, writer
I’ve been absolutely tearing through Terra’s salted crinkle-cut sweet-potato chips. While I’m sure they’re not as healthy as Chris Black’s snacks, they’re still technically vegetable-based, and the combination of rich flavor and serious-crunch action is killer.
$4 at The Vitamin Shoppe
You typically see Chobani pots in miniature, single-serve sizes at bodegas and company cafeterias. But being stuck at home has given me the opportunity to instead work through the larger, more environmentally friendly 32-ounce buckets. They’re a godsend for a recovering cereal addict like me who still needs a sweet, dairy kick in the morning but is looking for something with more protein and less sugar.
$6 at Fresh Direct
Jenna Milliner-Waddell, junior writer
When I was first adjusting to work-from-home life, I didn’t buy a desk or an office chair, but I did try to re-create the office snack pantry. During the early stock-up craze, I managed to find Tate’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, LesserEvil Popcorn, and my favorite Vox office snack: Hippeas Chickpea Puffs. I’m not sure how healthy they are, but they are free from all the things that could potentially upset my very fragile stomach, like dairy and gluten. And in these times in which my mind convinces me that every slight discomfort might be “it,” having a snack around that doesn’t give me a tummy ache is vital. It helps that they also taste amazing. They are just the right amount of crunchy and leave just the right amount of dairy-free cheese dust on your fingers for licking when the bag is done.
$3 at Thrive Market
$3 at Target
Lauren Ro, writer
This is a classic Korean snack. They might sound funky, but they’re truly delicious and actually taste like shrimp. They’re salty and crisp and pair perfectly with a cold one (they’re the Korean equivalent of beer nuts). We got one huge bag the last time we were at the Korean market in New Jersey over a month ago, and sadly it didn’t last long.
$1 at H Mart
I’m a sucker for fancy yogurt, so when this was the only kind available at Baldor Food, I had to try it. Not only does the yogurt taste incredible — like a light crème fraîche with just a hint of lemon — it comes in these (totally unnecessary) terra-cotta jars painted periwinkle that I’ve already begun co-opting as pen holders.
Liza Corsillo, writer
The best snacks are the ones you can’t stop eating. And while there are tons of chips and crackers that fit that description, most of them make me feel sort of blah once the bag or box is done. But eating a whole can of stuffed grape leaves does not make me feel guilty. I used to eat these with salad and hummus on a plate (or bring a few to work as an add-on to my boring desk lunch). But now I eat them standing up in my kitchen, one by one, until they are all gone. Like dumplings or ravioli, each tightly wrapped tube of rice is soft, mildly salty, and slightly acidic on my tongue.
$4 at Thrive Market