The TV dinner is so….last century. The very idea harks back to a time when Americans cherished sitting down at a table for three square meals a day. In that context, a TV dinner can be viewed as a step towards America’s current snack culture, a square meal designed for convenience as much as nutrition. As a community, Americans are moving through an epic moment when we snack as many as six times a day and eat smaller, less nutritionally complete meals. Snackers do not want a “considered meal,” something that requires a knife, fork and plate, to eat in front of a screen. Instead, they want a hand-held snack. A TV snack. A gaming snack. A texting snack. Food companies see the writing on the wall and are moving to create snacks that are not considered eats, that is, foods that do not involve utensils or plates or clean-up, but portable snacks that are as mess-free as they are stress-free.
TV Snack Brands
GO-GURT, known as Yoplait Tubes in Canada, was an early adapter to the one-handed eating phenomenon. Launched in 1999, just as cell phones became mobile devices with multiple functions, GO-GURT, a Yoplait Kids product, targeted the lunchbox crowd. A skinny tube filled with two ounces of yogurt was the perfect single-use snack size. Little kids, of course, manage to squeeze the yogurt onto themselves, but most adults are able to avoid this by not squeezing the tube too tightly.
Munk Pack’s new line of ready-to-eat Oatmeal Fruit Squeeze takes squeezable food out of the kiddie aisle. Perhaps inspired by the nutritional needs of backpackers, these are on-the-go snacks that are as easy to eat in the car, while toting a pack or using one hand to text. Remove the screw-top lid and squeeze. They even have a variegated bottom that allows the meal to stand on its own. Requiring no spoon to eat, this is a meal at its most convenient. A few squeezes are all that’s needed to eat. Fingers are kept clean. And there is no need to look down. Gamers can keep gaming. Texters can keep texting.
Walker’s UK Tear and Share bag riffs on the very British tradition of sharing a pint and a bag of potato chips with friends at the local pub. Simon Thorneycroft, Founder and CEO of Perspective : Branding, grew up in the UK and noted that “the chip bag becomes a sort of napkin at the pub. You tear back the front and use the inside as a sort of makeshift plate for sharing. Everyone does this.” Walker’s new bag has a creased bottom, that when “popped,” creates a little bowl. Structurally, versus a traditional chip bag, the Tear and Share bag stands up. It makes the snack share that much easier. You might need an actual napkin, though. And a beer to go with the chips.
These snacks all offer convenience, portability and portion control. They can be mobile meals or part of a larger meal. While TV Dinners offered more complete nutrition, today’s snacks have taken TV snack brands into the 21st century. Who needs a pre-made healthy meal with so many snacks to choose from?