12 Snack Hacks That Will Make Life Taste Better
Innovation is a part of human nature, which is fortunate when it comes to our snacking habits, because otherwise we'd be stuck with bowls of raw buffalo meat or whatever. These dozen snack hacks* offer new and different ways to enjoy some familiar favorites.
*What does and does not constitute a "hack" is often the subject of fierce linguistic debate. For our purposes, we're looking for fairly simple ways to repurpose pre-existing snacks that you may or may not have thought of. Painstakingly recreating an Oreo via a 37-step recipe isn't really much of a hack.
The Flamin' Hot Cheetos cooldown
Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are perhaps the greatest of all mass-produced spicy snacks, and it’s not just a clever name, either. These suckers are hot. Like, stomach-meltingly hot. Yet even people who can’t handle spice love the flavor. So how can those people enjoy them without tongue damage? The secret, friends, is cream cheese, which manages to at once cool the mouth and add a new flavor dimension to the fiery snack. While we're at it, considering somebody took a bunch of Cheetos dust and made Flamin’ Hot bagels, it might make sense to throw some of those neon-orange bastards in a coffee grinder, then mix them with cream cheese for a schemer that will forever render scallion spread obsolete?
Do you love roasting marshmallows, but find them decidedly lacking in bold fruit flavors? You should try giving the same treatment to Starburst, which, if placed in proximity to your campfire or stovetop or cigarette lighter or whatever with sufficient finesse, take on similarly pleasant caramelized on the outside/gooey on the inside properties to that of a properly toasted marshmallow.
There are, however, a few caveats. Tread carefully: Starburst are comparatively smaller than marshmallows and go from cool to flaming molten goo quite quickly. On a related note, if you are the kind of monster whose preferred marshmallow method is shoving it straight into the flames and blackening it, that's not gonna work so well here. Gentle toasting is the order of the day. Finally, let it cool a bit before devouring, but not so much that it loses its warm, roasted properties.
This move will prove especially valuable to those who love the indulgence of a milk-dipped Oreo but loathe the unavoidable milk-fingertips contact if one wants to achieve a proper soak. The maneuver works best with mini Oreos (unless you have one enormous French press on your hands). Take a handful and arrange them on the top side of the press, then lower them into the milk like a sadistic bond villain sending them to their watery (or milky) doom. Let 'em soak, and once you raise them back up you have yourself a little platter of milk-soaked Oreos and delightfully clean fingers. And if your next batch of coffee should have the faintest hint of Oreo, is that really a bad thing?
Sour Patch cubes
Serving the dual purpose of adding a dash of sweet and sour to a drink and looking like an adorable homage to The Matrix, Sour Patch Kids ice cubes are exactly what they sound like. Stack a bunch of kids in an ice cube tray. Immerse them in water. Let them freeze for a while, then drop them in a drink, ideally a whiskey sour. They’re a colorful conversation starter, too, especially if the person you’re talking to happens to be Jabba the Hutt looking for something to put in his Solo cup (sorry).
Pop-Tarts ice cream sandwiches
Pop-Tarts are God’s gift to toasters, and they’re amazing well beyond the breakfast table. So why not ditch the ho-hum cookies, scoop some ice cream between a couple Pop-Tarts, and just let the magic happen? Pick your favorite flavor to go with your favorite scoop and you can go in pretty much any direction you want: Might we recommend a strawberry tart on top, a chocolate one on the bottom, and vanilla ice cream in the middle?
"Oven-baked" Chips Ahoy!
Despite their inherent deliciousness, the non-Soft Batch Chips Ahoy! (or any other pantry-bound hard chocolate chip cookie) do not taste anywhere near as delicious as a fresh Auntie Anne’s or an Otis Spunkmeyer. But they can. Some folks will tell you to put them in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. They’re half right. The real key here is to lightly brush the top with water, or just add a few droplets. Twenty to thirty seconds later, those things will pop out soft and doughy as Mom used to make them. As a bonus, this also works for Pecan Sandies, in case you want to impress your favorite octogenarian.
You know how special you feel inside when the pepper boy comes to adorn your salad with a little extra zing? Imagine how much MORE special you'd feel if that zing came in the form of ground-up Doritos -- Cool Ranch, Nacho Cheese, whatever flavor you desire. Just take your Dorito of choice, smash some up in a sandwich bag or some other receptacle, and pour them carefully into a pepper grinder. Now you can sprinkle the unmistakable essence of Doritos on your eggs, your steak, your popcorn, your breakfast cereal -- go nuts!
The Pringles dispenser
We've already taught you the right way to eat Pringles, but are you removing them from their protective canister in the right manner? Attempting to shove your hand in can lead to disaster, and tilting the can often leads to crumb spillage, potentially attracting vermin and depriving you of tasty morsels when you upend the dregs at the end and inhale them like an animal. The solution? Fold a piece of paper in half and nestle it inside the canister beneath the Pringles. Suddenly you have a convenient mechanism that can slide the stack in and out of the can, or rest conveniently on your desk like an elegant serving platter for classier popping and not stopping.
Steamy microwave popcorn
Microwave popcorn is a convenient treat, but anyone whose made it knows that just a few seconds can be the difference between making Orville Redenbacher proud and stinking up your kitchen with the acrid smell of failed execution and shame. Boiling a mug's worth of water before you pop (give it about a minute or so) creates a more humid environment that helps keep the kernels from drying out and scorching, while also yielding a more pleasant, fluffy texture.
Look, we’re all good with regular old Hershey’s bars in s’mores. But think of the magic that can happen when you throw a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in the middle, allowing the chocolate and peanut butter to overtake the graham. Or allowing the goopy innards of a Caramello to become a cascade of diabetes with the first bite. Maybe you’re feeling frisky and want to toss in a (super underrated) 100 Grand. The possibilities are endless. You can even do it with a Mounds, if you’re terrible.
Mac & Cheez-Its
Truth be told, you can top your mac & cheese with the crumbles of a variety of crunchy snack foods and have an enhanced eating experience. Goldfish are lovely. Ritz Crackers are quite the party. But no foodstuff enhances a forkful of mac and cheese quite like the Cheez-It, whose crunch and seasoning level provide the perfect foil to the softer pasta beneath. The best way to attack it is to crumble them just a little, while still leaving large hunks of cracker intact. Whether you're just looking to level-up your takeout from KFC or you're preparing a fancy homemade casserole dish full of the stuff, Cheez-Its will take your mac experience to a higher place.
Boozy gummy bears
Candy and booze go together alarmingly well, as evidenced by a Jolly Rancher’s ability to make even Zima taste great. So it’s just logical that turning a gummy bear -- or worm, or frog, or Coke bottle -- into an adorable, better version of a Jell-O shot is wort doing. Hey, 50 million sorority girls can’t be wrong! Take a bunch of gummis, drop them in a plastic bag full of vodka, let them soak. Ta-da! Ruckus brought. They’re also great for sneaking into a movie theater.
Matt Lynch is thinking about investing in a second pepper mill dedicated to Doritos. Give him suggestions @MLynchChi.