Snacking for milennials

My mom likes to remind me that “You really don’t know what a snack is” every week when I pester her to fill our empty cabinets.
To my wonderful-in-all-ways-except-snacks mother, snacks are a small meal, something that requires preparation, time, effort, and thought. To me, snacks only sometimes require preparation, time, effort, and thought, and should be, above all, convenient.
In a bustling millennial brain, a miniscule amount of space is kept for thoughts on snacks. We millennials feel we should just be able to grab something fast, eat it, and keep going. Pre-packaged snacks, full of nourishing preservatives, are the best.
My mother, however, believes in a slow preparation process. I asked a friend about this recently, and she enthusiastically complained that her mother also believes that snacks are a tiny meal—not just a convenient package. They are even better if an oven is required.
Whereas I see cashews and canned beans, my mom sees a snacking opportunity. I suppose my ability to improvise with meals could be due to her optimism and creativity with canned foods at snack time.
Lately, she has started to ignore my pleas for artificial cheese (think Ritz Bits) or fake fruit flavor (Scooby Doo fruit snacks), claiming that, as a foodie, I should be aware that my snack habits are probably disrespectful to the food gods out there. I personally think that I’m expanding my food horizons by trying new (and processed) snacks.
Because my mother only buys produce or cans—none of that artificial “junk”—I have to let go of my fantasies of “the perfectly convenient snack” with its hypothetical, preservative-y goodness. I have to use what I can to make something good. My mom frequently suggests cheese plates, which I find to be horrifyingly pretentious (although I love cheese). You just don’t tell someone, “Why, yes, yesterday whilst craving nourishment, I sought some refreshment in the form of several morsels of spoiled milk.” Her other suggestion is an apple with peanut butter, which happens to be my favorite hiking snack, but I don’t want that all the time.
Although it’s blatantly obvious by now, I’ll admit that I’m difficult to feed. I’m not picky—I just cannot settle on a definition of “snack.”
So what do I consider a well-prepared snack? Pizza bagels.
They are the perfect snack because when I’m feeling particularly distracted, I can just unfreeze some bagel bites—even though they always taste like cardboard, come in a wrapper, and probably don’t have any real cheese on them. They make my mom uncomfortable, but I can use a toaster to prepare them!
If I’m feeling fancy, or I want to appease my mother, I make a real pizza bagel. I’ve been obsessed with Mario Batali since the first Eataly opened in New York, and he has a pizza that I fell in love with: it has no tomato sauce or cow’s milk, just goat cheese, truffle honey, red onions, pistachios, and olive oil.
So now for my pizza bagel: I take a Bruegger’s garlic bagel and cover it with olive oil. My dad taught me to always pre-toast my pizza bagels, so I stick it in a toaster oven and cover it with olive oil, smear on some goat cheese, truffle oil, honey, and whatever random nuts I can find in my house (most of the time, pecans).
Now this bagel seems ridiculous, and I agree. But that doesn’t stop me from throwing the whole thing into a skillet and cooking an egg in the center.
I suppose I fall next to my mom and her generation in that my ideal snack involves some preparation after all. But in these busy nights and years, I find myself turning to quicker alternatives.
Barack Obama, the love of my life, would retreat to his office for a long night of work and eat seven almonds. The protein in the nuts was enough to propel him through long nights.
We at Bucky probably work just as hard as Obama did. But when we’re staring down the gauntlet of tests, papers, and projects, it seems impossible to eat seven boring almonds. My sophomore year, after my uncle told me about Obama’s bizarre self-control, I tried it during a particularly cumbersome night.
It worked. But it made me very sad. I could get the same amount of calories and seven times the satisfaction from a bag of popcorn.
Now my go-to is buttered popcorn (microwaved) tossed with parmesan cheese and some chili powder.
So go ahead, make a pretentious pizza bagel or a cheese plate if you have time. Eat seven sad almonds if you want to be president. Make some popcorn if you want speed and satisfaction. There is no perfect snack, but there is something for everyone.

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