Lately, there’s been a small surge of food-related writing in Chicago, what with the release of Graze Magazine in April and craft-beer-focused Mash Tun Journal out this month. Such writing works because food plays a role one way or another in all of our lives. Snacks are no different, says Jacob Daneman, founder of new food blog The Snackpot. They are as personal, perhaps, as the books we read and the shows we watch. All of us have our own snacking history, be it the first time you discovered Fruit Roll-Ups in a friend’s pantry and realized your parents were holding out on you, or the ritual of sharing an orange with a grandparent, or maybe the time you went to Europe and slathered Nutella on any and all things you could get your hands on. However sentimental, snack time is rife with opportunities for colorful writing, and for memory. As far as food goes, snacking is kind of like the flash fiction of eating, isn’t it?
“Snacks are these little single portions of food that have a lot of character,” Daneman said. “They’re multi-colored, they’re meant to grab your attention, and they’re ripe for reviewing. Snacks permeate pop culture and our daily lives. Recent studies have shown people are snacking 26% more. We’re trying to inform people about new snacks they might like, lampoon certain snacks, and make that reference to an old commercial you might remember fondly from when you were a kid.”
The new blog, which went live on May 7, features pithy snack reviews as well as long-form features that tap into the power of snacks remembered. You may encounter a write-up on Taco Bell’s Dorito shelled tacos beside a carefully crafted feature reflecting on the woes of chunky childhood. All of the writing has its own particular sense of humor, appropriate for the often colorful, individually portioned packages of sustenance under examination. The site isn’t just a destination for quick reviews; it’s an opportunity for writers to riff on the snacks that occupy their thoughts.
“I want it to be an outlet for long-form writing as well. I think snacks afford us a certain amount of humor and even poignancy,” Daneman said. In reference to a regular column by Keith Ecker of Essay Fiesta, Daneman said, “It’s called ‘Life During Snack Time,’ and it’s about how life goes on while you snack.”
Ecker is an experienced personal essay writer and major player in Chicago’s live lit scene as the organizer for Essay Fiesta. It wasn’t a struggle to situate his well-established personal voice in the realm of snack food snark. He and Daneman, who have been friends since age six, hope to bump snack food up to the level of the many other forms of pop culture so often subject to review and scrutiny. He says snacking deserves the attention.
“It’s elevating snack culture to the same lofty heights as other elements of pop culture—what Pitchfork has done for music, what fashion and design writing have done for those industries—we want to bring that to the world of snacking, with Snackpot being the internet destination for snacking.”
The two take their task seriously, taking care to craft and shape The Snackpot Voice, and rounding up experienced writers and celebrity interviews to fill the site.
“The different kinds of content we’re looking to have on a regular basis include regular news updates about the snack industry and daily snack reviews, which is kind of our bread and butter,” Ecker said. “We want to have interviews with celebrities—TV personalities, musicians, film stars, chefs—about their take on or involvement in snack culture. And various regularly-occurring columns like, for example, Hot Snacks, which is about different snacks that the writer tries at different roadside stops.”