The number of Americans willing to spoil their dinner by eating snacks throughout the day is growing, according to a study by the market research firm Circana Group.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the study and said, “Nearly half of U.S. consumers are eating three or more snacks a day, up 8% in the past two years,” adding that “U.S. snack sales rose to $181 billion last year, up 11% from the year prior.”

The Associated Press previously reported on the rise of snacking in the U.S. In the article, food and health writer Sophie Egan said the growth in snacking could be due to stress related to busier lives.

”We live in a 24/7 food culture now,” Dana Hunnes, a senior dietitian at UCLA Medical Center, told the AP.

Sally Lyons Wyatt, vice president of Circana’s client insights division, told the Journal that the rise of video-gaming has also contributed to snack sales rising.

Amber Murayi, Hershey’s vice president of strategy, told the Journal that snack sales increased during the pandemic and the demand for treats like popcorn and candy continues to stay high.

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CNN said the pandemic caused a change in daily routines and food eating habits.

Per CNN, “With kids stuck at home during traditional working hours, some parents put in more work hours at night and reach for snacks to refuel. Others developed new routines that included staying up later,” and while good for snack-sellers, it’s not so good for our health.

According to the Journal, different food companies have reported an increase in snack sales, which include:

  • Snack companies Hershey and Mondelez have seen their companies’ shares rise 21% and 18%, respectively, year to date.
  • Hostess experienced a 50% increase in revenues between 2019-2022, with shares up about 18% year to date.
  • Campbell Soup reported snacks made up 46% of sales in 2022.

How much snacking is too much?

The Harvard T. Chan School of Public Health said a snack portion should be about 150 to 250 calories — enough to satisfy hunger without ruining your appetite for meals.

“This is equivalent to an apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter, or a string cheese with 6 whole grain crackers,” the article said.

Multiple online resources report that not many Americans are reaching for apples or whole grain crackers as their go-to snacks.

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What are America’s top 10 snacks?

Food news platform Tasting Table has a list of America’s favorite snacks, which include: Lay’s potato chips, Hostess cupcakes, Snickers chocolate bars, Goldfish crackers, Oreo cookies, Cheetos, Chips Ahoy cookies, Sour Patch Kids, Starbursts and Chex Mix.

Dan O’Leary, chief growth officer at Hostess, told the Journal, “Snacking is where the consumer is going.”

Wyatt told the Journal that Circana estimates U.S. snack sales growing between 7%-9.5% in 2023.