Does soup count as a meal? Snacking survey finds 45% of Americans say it doesn’t

NEW YORK ( – Can’t go a day without a bag of peanuts or a granola bar to snack on at some point? It turns out that almost every American needs a mid-afternoon snack.

According to a survey of 2,000 Americans ages 18-41 (1,125 Gen Zers and 875 Millennials), only 3% say they eat no snacks at all. Meanwhile, one in four respondents (26%) snack most often in the early afternoon, making it the most preferred snack time, especially among millennials compared to Gen Z (33 % versus 21%).

why we crave

Sixty-eight percent admit to snacking more frequently during times of anxiety or stress. This could explain why two-thirds find themselves snacking more now than before the pandemic began. Those who snack for a purpose are usually looking for an energy boost (42%), extra calories (33%) or protein (33%).

The poll, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of the National Peanut Board in honor of National Peanut Month in March, found that 57% of respondents admitted to snacking regularly before meals. But three out of four nibblers stop at least an hour before their next meal.

Americans are also very determined when it comes to avoiding midnight snacks. Only 2% of respondents say they want a bite to eat at the end of the evening.

The results also reveal that 63% prefer their food to have “a little kick”. To that end, 36% of Gen Zers and 41% of Millennials are challenging themselves to try spicier foods during the pandemic. In fact, almost half of peanut eaters (47%) like to add spice to the mix.

Nearly half (47%) of all respondents prefer a snack with a little crunch. The results show that 49% of millennials prefer crunch, compared to just under Gen Zers (46%). And when looking for new snack ideas, 42% of respondents turn to social media. “Spices have become a huge food trend,” says Ryan Lepicier, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at the National Peanut Board. “This could be because Gen Z and Millennials are inspired for new snack ideas by global social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.”

The border between meal and snack

When asked to categorize certain foods as snacks, meals, or both, respondents are split. For example, is soup a meal? The results say no, as only 45% of respondents consider it hearty enough to qualify. Classics like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are just as questionable. Two in five classify it as a snack, but 39% call it a meal.

A third of respondents think they could make a meal with nothing but peanuts, compared to half who think the legume is just a snack.

However, what Gen Z and Millennials agree on is that the most common way to distinguish a snack from a meal is that a snack can be eaten on the go (37%) and that a meal cannot. Respondents also define snacks as foods that require no preparation or cooking time (35%), and say it is more difficult to find time for meals (35%).

When asked about their favorite weird snack pairings, 23% praised the combination of peanut butter and pickles, placing it at the top of the list.

“Smart snack choices provide an energy boost and satisfy cravings to keep you full longer,” says Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RDN, LD. “Peanuts provide seven grams of protein and good fats, and are a good source of fiber. They are a crisp, nutritious, affordable, on-the-go snack option.

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