We’re a nation of snackists, apparently. But is the pub industry tapping into this enough?
Being “hangry” (hungry-angry) has become an accepted excuse for basically being a brat these days.
You can buy t-shirts, mugs, pencils and probably underwear with the slogan “I’m sorry for what I said when I was hungry,” – and you’re off the hook.
We love food, need food. But recent stats and conversations have got me thinking, are pubs practicing “snacktivism” enough?
Nearly every pub in the UK at least offers crisps or nuts behind the bar.
In my family we select a bag of crisps, nuts and crackers, open them all out on the table to eat while we finish a few pints. We call this a smorgasbord, and it prevents a family fall out before dinner.
Lately however, there has been a demand for something different.
Healthy snacks are rife in supermarkets. Low-calorie popcorn, crisps made from chickpeas instead of potato, and “chocolate bars” made from raw fruit, nuts and cacao.
And I buy the stuff.
If I’m peckish I’ll spend nearly £2 of a bar of mashed up fruit, in a bid to kid myself I’m being healthy. Despite the fact they taste rather grim and often look rather like an animal turd.
The point is people pay money for snacks that they can feel less guilty about or see more value in than a bag of salt & vinegar crisps.
I’m not saying you should start stocking a range of wholefood bars, or that you should stop stocking your best selling crisps and nuts.
I’m talking about easy to serve snacks which might be less calorific or just a bit different – to appeal to the customer who either ate dinner but is ravenous after that fourth pint (we’ve all been there), or the customer who doesn’t want to ruin dinner later.
A few other ideas I’ve picked up from pubs that understand the seriousness of being “hangry”.
Food on a stick
Satay chicken skewers, kebabs and falafel balls. Something you can charge that little bit more for, but all you need to do is pop them in the oven and serve them up. These are Hushpuppies, and you can read about them here.
Not necessarily Pot Noodles, although they might work too. In this colder weather hot snacks are great, and instant noodles can be slightly more nutritious than a bag of crisps if you need a selling point. There are also a lot of healthier "gourmet" style noodle pots around, like these Mr Lee's gluten free ones.
At the Lunch! 2016 exhibition I found myself surrounded by crisps made from things like chickpeas or cooked in a different way. And some of them were actually quite nice. Try stocking a few and see how they sell.
Free fruit for kids
This is actually an idea I saw in Tesco. Free fruit for kids while the parents do the shopping. Well how about free fruit for kids while the parents enjoy a pint? Shut them up with a banana, which costs pennies, and watch the adults stick around for that one extra drink. It’s one thing dealing with a hangry adult, but a hangry toddler? Dangerous.
Have a go at pickling your own eggs, a pub classic. For some top tips on pickling, read this.