Fun bites should fuel your next meeting

Quoth The New York Times, late last year: “Meals are so 2023. Next year will be all about snacks.” Yet, we’re talking more than an apple wedge or carrot stick, and more than a fistful of potato chips or a mini yogurt cup. It’s Snackucopia: fun, amusing even, creative, varied and, yes, Insta-worthy.

“Innovative snacks from chefs aimed at diners who are giving up three meals a day in favor of all-day snacking,” is how the Times puts it.

Exhibit A: The Strawberry Bell Truffle, last summer’s hit collaboration between Taco Bell and Milk Bar, the award-winning bakery launched in New York City by celebrity chef Christina Tosi, as a bite-sized treat of vanilla cake with strawberries, sweet corn fudge center and a crunchy taco shell.

Exhibit B: Seacuterie, charcuterie-like boards using tinned fish. Deliciouser in Madison, Wisconsin, teaches groups how to create them in its kitchen studio, while the aptly named Sardine, a hip bistro also in Madison, serves up craft cocktails with a tin of sardines and crostini for happy hour snacking. It’s said to be a pandemic-era trend that began with Americans in lockdown re-embracing tuna sandos. High-protein seafood in brightly colored metal containers is projected to be an $11 billion-a-year business in the U.S. by 2027.

In general, appetite for snacking spiked during the worst of Covid-19, especially among people under the age of 35 and parents with kids under 18 years old, according to a survey taken by the International Food Information Council. One in four Americans surveyed said they snacked multiple times a day and 40% said they at least occasionally replaced meals with snacks.

Chips, granola bars and treats like cookies are becoming breakfast, lunch and dinner for some age groups, food experts say. It’s easier. It’s quicker. And it makes sense: Gen Z is infamous for having a short attention span, and Millennials as a group aren’t much better. Think of snacks as the TikTok of eating. Munch. Enjoy. Move on.

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This is not necessarily all bad. As Food & Wine recently opined, “While snacks are obviously perfect for enjoying in between meals, we strongly believe that they’re also worthy of being the whole dang meal…. You can load up a plate with a single snack or mix and match three or four snacks into your own personal tasting menu. After all, one of the greatest things about snack dinners is that they can be whatever you need them to be to suit your mood and appetite.”

Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health says snacking can confer a boost of energy when blood glucose levels drop in the hours after eating. It can also help stave off overeating at the next meal and provide extra nutrients when snacks are wellness-minded.

“Think of snacks as the TikTok of eating. Munch. Enjoy. Move on.”

Nutritionists will tell you to balance the snack offerings, a mix of indulgent and healthful, savory and sweet, intriguing and a little familiar. A range of tastes and textures leads to enjoyment, and studies have shown that foods high in protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates (e.g., beans and fruits) and whole grains (e.g., nuts) enhance satiety when consumed as snacks.

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For meetings on tight schedules, the ideation can continue while attendees refuel on energy-boosting snacks around the breakroom table or even in the ballroom. While we’ve known finger foods, tapas and the concept of grazing for a long time, elevating the snack to a meal replacement at a gathering—buffet style or passed like hors d’oeuvres—offers a fresh experience to your attendees and an opportunity for your caterer to pack a big punch in small packages.

Snackables for Meetings

Stumped for memory-making meeting snacks? The Internet is happy to help. Here are a few ideas found there.

  • Prosciutto-wrapped fuyu persimmon spears
  • Cranberry Brie bites
  • Caprese skewers
  • Sweet potato turkey meatballs
  • Quinoa pizza balls
  • Guacamole bruschetta

Get the picture? Make it small and make it sing.


This article appears in the March 2024 issue. You can subscribe to the magazine here.