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There are very few things that make your typical work day go by quicker. Lunch, bullshit meetings where you can zone out, those glorious fifteen minutes when management is all in a meeting and you call pull up Twitch on your work computer without hovering your fingers on the “alt” and “tab” buttons. Mostly, though, you’re consigned to your desk, keeping your screens full of work (or at least spreadsheets that look related to work even if they’re actually projections for your fantasy baseball team).
In those dog day hours, before or after lunch especially, you may want an extra little boost of energy. A nice, quick little snack to help you recharge for the second hour of browsing Reddit while praying your boss doesn’t take the path behind you and spot you being completely unproductive.
Enter the desk snack, a simple, quick bite that you can pull from that empty drawer you should have filled with client folders. It’s the ideal method to have some food that others in the office won’t take, and have a food stash for those quick moments of weakness. But which snack you partake in can vast ramifications to your productivity, fitness, and happiness. A good desk snack can perk you up like Popeye eating spinach, while a poor choice will put you into a day-long stupor like Garfield after eating a whole lasagna.
Right off the bat, let’s eliminate the obvious. Fruit is certainly a healthy and nutritious snack, but for a desk snack, it’s not ideal. For sanitary reasons, fruit cannot actually be stored in your desk before going bad. This means that you’re forced to store fruit in the fridge where all the other filthy peasants in your office can get their germy mitts on them or steal them. My general rule for the office fridge is that it’s best used as a holding ground. Leaving anything in there longer than eight hours is just asking for it to get stolen or contaminated. For this reason, fruit is out.
Some may protest, arguing that gum is not actually a snack since you don’t actually eat it. However, I’m willing to put gum on the list because I have seen many a co-worker in my day chewing on a stick of Hubba Bubba or Double Mint (though surprisingly no Big League Chew). And if you have some oral fixation or boredom but want to save on some calories, gum is a decent option. The problem is not only are you not satisfied after chewing gum, it’s not possible to get through a workday of chewing gum without looking like a complete asshole. Go on, try to have a serious discussion with someone who’s smacking their gum the whole time and tell me you don’t want to punch them for seeming like a condescending shit.
A bit childish, not incredibly healthy, but a guilty, tasty pleasure. There’s no wrong kind of candy to eat at your desk. When you’re dragging a bit, reaching out for a sugar rush can be a godsend. At least until the inevitable sugar crash. Next thing you know, you’re waking up at 4:45 with a headache and sticky fingers. That’s an image you don’t want your boss to have in her mind when your quarterly review comes around.
A fine standby. The old reliable when it comes to satisfying your hunger cravings. With so many varieties to choose from, kettle cooked or baked, corn or potato, barbecue, salt and vinegar, or sour cream and onion if you’re devoid of any taste buds, chips will always work. The problem with chips is that you can’t possibly eat them discreetly, you’ll look like a perpetual fatass chomping on chips all day, and it’s impossible for most mortals to restrain their chip consumption once the bag has been cracked open. A delicious choice, but high risk.
I’ll admit, I have a little bias here. I’m heavily Team Granola. With yogurt and some fruit in the morning, granola is the X-factor in my daily breakfast. There’s plenty of variety, with some being largely fruit or nut-based, and others being branded as an alternative to protein powder. Granola is the utility infielder of snacks, great for breakfast and before lunch, yet serviceable in the afternoon. The real downside, though, is that granola can fill you up quick. Without even realizing it, you can eat half a bag of granola and feel like you have a cinderblock in your stomach. Not a good look when the clock hasn’t even crossed 10 in the morning.
You could lump these in with chips, but pretzels have enough differentiation to warrant their own category. And they outpace chips largely due to the fact that they’re lighter, they’re saltier (therefore forcing you to drink water which will fill you up quicker), and they don’t quite have the “I can eat a full bag in one sitting” threat that Doritos might. Pretzels can also come in multiple varieties (stick, ring, or bite) and flavors, making them a stellar choice.
Beef. Pork. Chicken. Whatever variety of meat you want to make into jerky, it’s all gravy baby (side note, do not consume jerky at your desk with gravy, lest you risk a mess). Jerky is not only the best portable way to get your daily dose of extra protein, it’s delicious. The only drawbacks when it comes to jerky are the distinct odor, identifying you as the “jerky guy” of the office. It sounds great at first, imagining vegetarians and vegans cowering when they sense you approaching until you realize the hot new intern has been avoiding you because she can’t take your beef breath anymore. Invest in some Tic Tacs and Febreeze.
Okay, okay, would you stop the giggling for two goddamn seconds while I…yes I know “deez nuts, got ‘em” it wasn’t funny when it was a thing two years ago…you’re really going to emulate Gronk, who is the updated version of Big but where a 13-year old who wears nothing but TapOut shirts morphed into a genetic freak?
Look, eat cashews, eat almonds, eat peanuts, or whatever. Salted, plain, or with a little dusting of seasonings like honey or spice. Nuts have plenty of protein to fill you up, but they’re not so overpowering that you’ll be sluggish. Nuts are great. Oh yeah, har har har, the grown-up said: “nuts are great.” Grow up Peter Pan, Count Chocula.
2. Dried Fruit
While regular fruit can go bad or be contaminated, dried fruit is an amazing alternative. Not only is it healthier than candy, but it can provide you that same pep and blast of sugar you might be craving just an arms-length away. Whether it’s raisins, dried apple or mango slices, or those delicious dried rings of pineapple, nothing will tickle your taste buds quite like dried fruit without making you feel like a pig. With the exception of…
1. Trail Mix
The Holy Grail of desk snacks. Trail mix has all your flavor palates covered, from sweet to savory to salty. Trail mix is a party in your mouth, a mixture of most of the other top contenders listed above. Dried fruit, nuts, pretzels, all with a sprinkling of candy just to provide you that last bit of pleasure. Trail mix has everything you could possibly want, while not making you look like a total lard ass. It’s an indulgence without being gluttonous. A heavenly mixture of all the snacks that are good in the world. Enjoy. .