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The Snackle Box Is Everywhere Now

Perfect for those who enjoy Costco-sized, more-is-more snacking, it’s a vessel whose time has come

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An array of snackle boxes, stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables, candy, cheese, and meats. Lille Allen

In our current Always Be Snacking culture (apologies to Glengarry Glen Ross), there’s no shortage of infomercial-fodder products currently in development for the keeping and carrying of bite-sized treats. There are dozens of modular, stack-your-own portable snack containers (handle included); beeswax snack bags that serve as an eco-friendly carrying case for Annie’s cheddar bunnies; and the most heavy duty snack-on-the-go vessel of them all: the snackle box.

Yes, snackle box. A creative (or unfortunate, depending on your perspective) portmanteau of snack and tackle, these suddenly omnipresent creations bring a Costco-sized, more-is-more snacking arrangement to any gathering. At a local craft fair last fall, I looked on incredulously as Lululemon-adorned customers swarmed a table selling stacks upon stacks of this sporty, nuts-and-bolts workhorse typically made for bait and bobbers. Were they planning their next fishing trip? No, these tackle boxes were all cleaned up (most even monogramed!) and rebranded as portable snack food carriers. My mind boggled.

Half a year later, the snackle box is everywhere, from TikTok to DIY classes, Amazon to Walmart, Etsy storefront to Etsy storefront. The boxes are exhaustively customized and priced anywhere between $10 and $98, though I recently spotted a miniature version for a single U.S. dollar in Target’s Bullseye section. Perhaps influenced by the rise of “girl dinner” and the importance of “little treat” culture for both adults and children, travel sports moms, picnic enthusiasts, and road trippers alike are building portable charcuterie boards and snack plates in compartments that once held nightcrawlers as a way to stay satiated without stopping for increasingly expensive fast food or gas station impulse purchases.

If the rise of elaborate, painstakingly crafted school lunch bento boxes -– complete with panda-pronged toothpicks, ham flowers and kawaii star-shaped sandwiches — has become a hallmark of excessively cutesy, social media-fodder American parenting over the past five years, the snackle box lands with a heavy thud on the other end of the kids’ snack spectrum. It is, at its heart, a product that speaks to our current climate of economic precarity for many and the fact that, even if we’re not ready to admit a recession may very well be on the horizon, there’s certainly a vibecession permeating our grocery habits and munching decisions.

Decking out a second grader’s lunchbox with all sorts of plastic doodads and bento-specific accessories (tiny hot dog hats, anyone?) might’ve seemed like a parenting flex in years past, but now the snackle box reigns supreme as a show of level-headed utilitarian frugality over landfill-fodder excess. We’re in a function-over-form timeline now, and the wastefully twee presentations and individually packaged snacks of yore have been replaced by hastily sliced up carrot sticks and handfuls of pretzel Goldfish dropped into snackle box compartments. Why drop $30-plus on gas station beef jerky, Gatorade, and Combos when you can fill a snackle box with bite-sized snacks from the fridge for (roughly) free-ninety-nine?

Of course, certain more-is-more personalities (and, ahem, influencers) will always have the urge to go over the top with elaborate, color-coded candy combinations and organic-only treats for snackle boxes that rack up costs, no matter the frugal foundations. But at its core, the snackle box brings a certain “we have food at home, not McDonald’s money” aura to our current snacking moment: treat yourself, but within reason.

And snackle boxes aren’t just for kids and dance moms. TikTok is filled with bachelorette parties and girls’ trips loading up their snackle boxes with vodka-soaked gummy bears and Prosecco-doused frozen grapes, and as we glide into summer, social media would have us believe that the multi-level snackle box might just become the new picnic basket. (At least if the 9.4 million views garnered by a TikTok of someone filling up a four-tier snackle box for a beach day are any indication.) Charcuterie Reddit has gone gaga for the snackle box thanks to its portability, with many devotees posting their creations.

There’s no denying that snackle boxes are unaesthetic — arguably, they are even downright ugly — but perhaps this only lends to their charm. Snackle boxes have a summer-in-the-suburbs energy reminiscent of 1998 Toyota Sienna minivans and freezer pops loaded up with Red Dye 40; they’re the kind of practical innovation that springs forth from garage sale, make-do culture.

Still, they beg the almost inevitable question: are they genius or a travesty? Perhaps all great novelty products (including those sold on QVC at 2 a.m.) force us to ask the same thing, and the snackle box is no different. While some might see snackle boxes as representative of a certain type of gauche, middle America abomination — when I first tweeted about them, many of my replies contained some variation on “Sarah, no. Just no.” — I can’t help but see their appeal. Call me snackle box curious. I’m not ready to decorate my snackle box with a Cricut monogram or “snack queen” proclamation, but if it means resisting the urge to buy a bag of hot buffalo wing pretzels and an unnaturally shiny gas station hot dog on my next long drive? I’m all in.

Sarah Baird is a Kentucky-based journalist and author whose work appears regularly in the New York Times, GQ, Saveur, the Believer and beyond. A 2019 Knight Visiting Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, she writes frequently about cultural issues impacting rural America.