If there were an age at which the act of snacking reached its artful pinnacle, I’d argue anyone that it’s 10. Ten is a magical age, when the ravenous appetite of a growing human body collides with newfound independence and (some) control over one’s own diet. With a decade’s worth of experience, the 10-year-old has become a master manipulator of their parents’ shopping habits, willing them to acquire whatever brand of individually packaged, nutritionless crunch they desire. (Better yet, they might have an allowance.) The 10-year-old palate no longer fears powerful flavors; stunt-eating spicy and sour in extreme doses is now a reliable way to earn coveted school cafeteria cred. Ten is also the age you begin to suspect that your parents are not, in fact, the coolest, ushering in the era of closed bedroom doors, and hours spent with a Nintendo Switch in one hand and a Cool Ranch Dorito in the other.
In early September, Eater asked a Zoom classroom full of pros (aka 10-year-old fifth graders) from a suburb outside of Dallas to tell us about their snack habits. The resulting conversation revealed that, while the year 2020 has challenged most all aspects of humanity and modern civilization as we know it, the noshing prowess of America’s young snack virtuosos is nothing short of untouchable.
Also, Takis are awesome.
Eater: So, tell me about what you like to snack on.
Jaiden: My favorite snack is Takis, because they’re super sweet. I mean, no, they’re spicy… but they’re also a little sweet. I like spicy stuff.
Ranveer: I like Fritos, the original or barbecue flavors, because the taste is a little bit spicy and they have a fun, twisted kind of shape.
Aisha: I like gummies because they’re sweet and jelly-ish.
Tamara: My favorite snack is chocolate ice cream because it’s cold and it can melt in your mouth.
Eater: Wait, is ice cream a snack? Or is it dessert? Like, is this a thing your parents would give you after school?
Tamara: I definitely have it after school.
Jaiden: Me too!
Eater: Wow, okay. Your parents are cooler than mine were.
Layal: Yesterday we ran out of good snacks so I had to eat Nature Valley granola bars. They taste okay but they’re not the best. I like the Kellogg’s ones better, the ones with the frosting.
Ranveer: I usually bring the peanut butter granola bars to school. I like them!
Jaiden: I like to take these crackers and then I put peanut butter and this type of cheese on it. It tastes really good.
Layal: Oh, I also love Goldfish! They’re a little salty and they have this cheese flavor to them. It’s one of my favorites at home, but I end up bringing them to school with me, too.
Eater: Do you guys mostly like sweet or salty snacks?
Jaiden: I like sour. Like those super sour Toxic thingies. Toxic candies... what are they called?
Junior: Toxic Waste.
Jaiden: Yes! Toxic Waste. People say they are the sourest candies in the world.
Manuel: What about sour Skittles?
Eater: Does anyone ever have like, vegetables for a snack?
In unison: No!!
Jaiden: I do, but my mom makes me. I was a green bean fan as a little kid.
Eater: So then, what’s the “cool kid” snack these days?
In unison: Takis.
Jaiden: ’Cause like, I feel like they’re so spicy that some people can’t handle it — but I’m one of the people who can handle it.
Ranveer: There are many different flavors of Takis though, Jaiden, so if you get one of the other flavors you can eat it like it’s nothing. You’re not the only one!
Jaiden: No way! I always grab the hottest ones! I also like super spicy peanuts.
Servando: I like Cheetos, the normal flavor or the Flamin’ Hot, spicy Cheetos.
Jaiden: I love Hot Cheetos!
Eater: Why do you all think that spicy snacks are so popular?
Servando: In my case, I think it’s because I’m from Mexico.
Layal: Yeah, I’m from a small African country, Eritrea, and a lot of the national foods there are spicy so I grew up with spicy food in my household. My parents like spicy stuff, too.
Eater: What did you all actually have for a snack today?
Jaiden: I had Takis!
Eater: Of course.
Layal: I have a gummy bear bracelet on right now, actually.
Jaiden: I thought you said onions — ha!
Ranveer: No way! You can’t have those raw, it tastes weird.
Jaiden: They make me sneeze.
Tamara: I had barbecue potato chips.
Layal: I like when chips come in little individual bags because I like popping them open. Boom!
Ranveer: Oh no! I think I ran out of snacks.
Jaiden: Ugh, and my sister ate all my Takis.
Goldsuit is a painter and graphic designer based in Seattle.