Opinion

Boring! British snacks get big thumbs down

Ban the Bland campaign bids to add excitement to snacking

For decades, British food has been the butt of a joke across the world, with the nation ridiculed for our beige buffets and stodgy snacks. For me, it’s a case of… if you eat similar food for long enough, it gets boring. I spent a decade living in Thailand. At first, I was well into the cuisine, the hotter, the better. After a while, the excitement wore off. I started craving roast beef and Yorkshire pud. Variety, after all, truly is the spice of life.

Long been categorised as “bad” for our supposed strange combinations, lack of imagination, stodgy puddings, and weak tea, British food has become a laughing stock online and the subject of millions of memes.

And it looks like the nation is living up to this reputation, as new research reveals more than one-in-four (27%) believe British food is boring! Crisps, toast and digestive biscuits have been named and shamed as Britain’s most ‘boring’ snacks.

A study of 2,000 adults found nearly half feel they’re lacking inspiration for their grub as they tuck into a between-meal top-up three times a day. I wonder what dieticians woulds make of that.

Bananas, rich tea biscuits and yoghurt also ranked highly in the monotonous snacks list as 68% simply eat whatever they can get their hands on – even if it is dull. 

Chomping on cardboard

With snack sessions feeling like Groundhog Day for most, Brits are also crunching on carrots and nibbling rice cakes and popcorn – often compared with chomping on cardboard! The lack of tempting options and inspiration means Brits are turning to odd combinations in a bid to waken tastebuds, from dipping digestives in ketchup to munching on Marmite and malt loaf.

Forget the quintessentially British breakfast, beans on toast, Brits are ditching the bread base and spooning straight from the tin at snack time! Other peculiar parings people confessed to when conducting the poll include dipping gherkins in chocolate spread (gherkins in taramasalata is mine), squirting salad cream on crisps (mayo, me) and even gobbling up crunchy crickets (I leave that to my Thai wife)!

A spokesperson from Peperami, who commissioned the research as part of their Ban the Bland campaign, said: “A snack should be something people look forward to eating. However, as these results show, there’s a worrying lack of flavour hitting the tastebuds of Brits across the nation. It simply shouldn’t be this way – and Brits don’t have to stand for flavourless, bland snacking during the day.”

It also emerged nearly a third of Brits eat purely for fuel rather than because they enjoy it.

Though of those searching for flavour, 55% find themselves scouring the aisles only to settle for the same old snack they usually do. Despite adults snacking across the day, 3:48pm is the rife time, with voracious Brits looking for their next fix ahead of dinner time.

But respondents described their snacking choices overall as standard, safe or healthy – with 49% admitting they’re in need of some snackspiration. There’s no shortage of exciting snacks out there, however, Brits have struggled to find inspiration with nearly a quarter saying they’ve eaten so much bland food recently that their tastebuds have forgotten what flavour is like.

Savoury V sweet

There was an even a divide when it came to preferred snack, with 43% enjoying savoury and 42% preferring sweet options (on the road to diabetes, trust me, I know).

Three-quarters admitted they snack even when they’re not feeling hungry and will usually reach for a treat when they’re bored or watching the telly. Nearly four-in-10 stick to the same old snacks just because they’re there – yet nearly one-in-five said they’d happily snack more if they had something interesting to eat.

When quizzed on what made the perfect snack – flavour was most popular with 48%, while 35% said it needed to be something you’d look forward to eating.

On the inner workings of snacking, food psychologist, Greg Tucker, explains: “Playing it safe in snacking is a sensible strategy when the underlying driver is superficial boredom – so the need for stimulation and escape is uppermost. Often we are simply seeking some minor diversion through a measure of predictable pleasure and the well-known reassurance of an old favourite.

“And when we do discover a new, exciting and stimulating snack then there is a real endorphin rush – a genuine escape, a moment of lasting pleasure and a product added to our repertoire.”

Food psychologist Greg Tucker

A spokesperson from Peperami, adds: “We want Brits to take a stand and right the snacking wrongs that have plagued routine for so long. There’s no reason people shouldn’t cast aside their ready-salted crisps, of plain rich tea biscuit and enjoy something all-the-more exciting during their day.”

Peperami is challenging Brits to #BanTheBland and up their snacking game, offering FREE Peperami products to snack fans across the nation from today (May 24) until November 30. Those who wish to apply simply need to visit www.freepeperami.com and can claim one free product from each range.

Top 20 most boring snacks

  1. Crisps in general
  2. Toast
  3. Digestives
  4. Bananas
  5. Rich tea biscuits
  6. Yoghurt
  7. Ready-salted crisps
  8. Nuts
  9. Salt & vinegar crisps
  10. Cereal
  11. Rice cakes
  12. Cheese & onion crisps
  13. Popcorn
  14. Dried fruits
  15. Boiled eggs
  16. Noodles
  17. Granola bars
  18. Ham
  19. Carrot sticks
  20. Jellied eels
Photo by Monstera from Pexels

Greg Tucker’s top tips to avoid snack boredom

  1. Turn up the heat. Find a hotter variant of a snack you know – either through adding a chilli dip or through a pre-made hotter variant.
  1. Find a friend! This can be a way to refresh those dreaded Zoom calls or now that we can mix more freely a way to regain some of that social buzz.
  1. Munch faster. Kick start the body by chomping aggressively, make the incisors do the work so the flavour release is more a front of mouth burst and so shift the snacking experience dynamics.
  1. Make it count! Look at what you snack and work out which give you the biggest mood boost and which the least. Then simply drop the least impactful snacks and switch those for something totally new and different.

David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past local weekly publications he has worked for include: the South-East London Mercury* covering the Borough of Greenwich as a junior reporter; Orpington-based News Shopper as a sub-editor; and the Kent Messenger when based in Larkfield, Maidstone, as deputy chief sub-editor. He has also worked for the following dailies/nationals: Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor on a car fleet magazine. His first foray into property ownership saw him move from London to Rainham (the Gillingham, Kent, variety). He has subsequently lived in Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Orpington in the Borough of Bromley (which he still regards as being in Kent). In more recent years he owned three different properties on the Kings Hill (West Malling) development.

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