Who needs penpals when you could have snackpals?

snack aisle
Photo: Jeff Greenberg / Contributor (Getty Images)

One of my favorite things about traveling overseas is strolling into the local convenience store and just looking at all the snacks. I’ll pick out a couple random ones, childishly based off of whether or not I like the packaging, then tear into new flavors of chips, candy bars, and other things I can’t get at home.

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Since travel hasn’t been a part of my life lately, this article from The Guardian about a subreddit called r/SnackExchange has really brightened my day. You pick someone from the board to trade snacks with, send them a box of snack aisle treats, and eventually post pictures to the board of what you received. It’s like having a penpal, but with food! People can be so cute sometimes.

This isn’t a pandemic innovation; the subreddit has been around since 2010, because snacks are timeless, really. Mainly people send each other popular staples like cookies, candy, chips, and the like. But it’s not just about delicious food. It also opens up a window into other people’s snack shelves across the world.

One swapper, Meghan Quallick, who lives in Sacramento, said, “I didn’t realise what we didn’t have until we started doing the snack exchange.” Her swaps brought her food from Wales, Scotland, Hawaii, and Australia. The Australian swap was for a specific reason: Quallick’s coworker was trying to get Cadbury Black Forest bars, a chocolate treat she had fallen for during a past trip to Australia, but attempts to obtain them stateside failed.

The Australian exchange netted 10 of those chocolate bars. “To get some and bring them to her was pretty exciting,” Quallick said. “My co-worker had tears in her eyes.” Oh, man.

Other big hitters from Australia include Milo, Violet Crumbles, Cheezels (you’ve got my attention), and Twisties. Of course, Vegemite makes an appearance too. But the top request? Tim Tams. And if you do get a hold of Tim Tams, I wrote a little guide on the special way to eat them that will change your life forever.

“Everyone wants Tim Tams,” says Heather Clarke, a swapper from Melbourne. There’s a lot of ins and outs to the art of the snack exchange, so if you’re looking to delve a little deeper, make sure to check out the article. And don’t be surprised if you see me on that subreddit nosing around to see what I can find in exchange from whatever I can pillage from my local drugstore snack aisle.

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Staff writer at The Takeout. Also: Saveur Humor Blog Award Winner, professional pizza maker, and insufferable troublemaker.

DISCUSSION

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Fun fact: Trader Joe’s has knock-off Tim Tams now. I’ve only had the original once, so I’m not the best judge of how authentic they are, but they’re definitely tasty.