A snack is a small service of food and generally eaten between meals. Snacks come in a variety of forms including packaged snack foods and other processed foods, as well as items made from fresh ingredients at home.
Traditionally, snacks are prepared from ingredients commonly available at home without a great deal of preparation. Often biscuits, chocolate, cold cuts, fruits, leftovers, nuts, popcorn, sandwiches, and sweets are used as snacks. The Dagwood sandwich was originally the humorous result of a cartoon character’s desire for large snacks. With the spread of convenience stores, packaged snack foods became a significant business.
Snack foods are typically designed to be portable, quick, and satisfying. Processed snack foods, as one form of convenience food, are designed to be less perishable, more durable, and more portable than prepared foods. They often contain substantial amounts of sweeteners, preservatives, and appealing ingredients such as chocolate, peanuts, and specially-designed flavors (such as flavored potato chips).
Beverages, such as coffee and tea, are not generally considered snacks although they may be consumed along with or in lieu of snack foods.
A snack eaten shortly before going to bed or during the night may be called a “bedtime snack”, “late night snack”, or “(mid)night snack”.