This is a recurring series of posts based on new products we find in the marketplace that are fun, different and FLAVORFUL! This time around, we explored functional snacks.

October is officially here! With the warm weather slowly drifting away and the cold weather creeping in, what better activity is there than snacking? However, If you’re like me, you’ll find any excuse to snack; today it’s the weather. Despite the ever-growing category, I am still warming up to the idea of functional snacks. So I took a trip to Jungle Jim’s International Market to sample every functional snack I could find! I bought chips, bars, puffs, nut clusters, fruit bites, and chocolates. But this was all too much for one man to try, so I got the help from my good friend and colleague, Kyle Neu.


Salty Snacks

Kyle and I dove straight into the salty snacks, starting with Cricket Chips! As nervous as I was to try, I was pleasantly surprised with how “normal” they tasted. Though cricket protein is still in the “inception” stage of snacking, it has grown 34% in the last year on US menus (Datassential), mostly in the snacking/appetizers section of the menu.

The turmeric crisps were also extremely tasty and very on trend. Turmeric has grown 190% in menu mentions (Datassential) in the last four years with no slow down in sight, so I think these will be a hit with consumers.

My personal favorite from this batch of salty snacks was the Strawberry PB&J puffs. What a wonderful way to combine a childhood classic with a savory snacking spin. Conventional crisp-making methods, such as deep-frying, have been replaced with the trendy popped and puffed crisps. Popped and puffed snacks often use ‘healthier’ ingredients and this product was no exception.

Moon Cheese, Beanfields Cheddar Chips, Bhuja Beer Mix, & Seasnax Seaweed

The moon cheese, cheddar sour cream chips, and beer mix are perfect examples of products embracing the new functionality consumers expect. Ingredient transparency between consumers and manufacturers is more important than ever. Consumers are looking for products that contain vegan ingredients, so the demand for plant-forward, clean-labeled snacks has reached an all-time high.

Bags of salty functional snacks such turmeric crisps, bean chips, moon cheese, seaweed and cricket chips.
The salty snack products we tasted including turmeric crisps, seaweed snacks, bean chips moon cheese and cricket chips.

Sweet Snacks

Finally, Kyle and I jumped into the sweet snacks. Chocolate covered treats are huge right now because you’re able to coat a healthy snack with a delightful chocolate flavor: functional with the indulgent. The chocolate covered chickpeas were Kyle’s favorite; they were a perfect salty sweet combination with crunch. (Kyle also loves chocolate covered pretzels, so the same affinity really applies here!) The dark chocolate covered strawberries were also great, but could have used more fruit flavor and a little less chocolate.

The Good to Go Bar is a perfect option for a functional snack; it includes Keto-certified, vegan, grain-free, gluten-free, peanut-free, and kosher ingredients. It’s also non-GMO and made with real fruit ingredients. WOW! That’s a bang for your functional buck! I never knew something that healthy could taste so good! I would put this on par with most chocolate candy bars on the market today.

Good & Ugly is an emerging brand with interesting products. They combine fruit and nuts into a cube with no sugars, gluten, or GMOs, and although they were pretty good, they could have used a touch more sweetness for my liking! My favorite from this group was definitely the fruit bites. Mavuno Harvest Organic Chewy Fruit Bites come in many flavors but we picked the Pineapple Passion Fruit. It – legitimately – tasted like you were biting into a fresh pineapple. It’s always refreshing to know you’re enjoying a treat that tastes sweet and delightful, but has the added health benefits for your daily life.

Bags of functional snacks such as fruit bites, chocolate covered chickpeas and chocolate almond butter cups
The sweet snack products we tasted including dark chocolate covered strawberry, organic chewy fruit bites, chocolate covered chickpeas and almond butter cups.

Consumers love to treat themselves, but they also want to eat healthy. This is especially prevalent during the pandemic. It wasn’t until recently that you’d be able to have the best of both worlds. Brands have met our needs and developed some amazing products that provide the nutrients we need with the delicious tastes we expect. Even if it’s not traditionally your thing, try something new and I think you will pleasantly surprised with the way this functional category has taken shape.

2 comments

  1. Armand’s face on that peanut butter cup LOL!! I am always so hesitant to try these kinds of snacks so thanks for doing all of the taste testing for me!

  2. Kyle and Armand, you did a great job. you guys are so natural and give great insight. I am definitely going to share this information. Susan

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