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'Snack' attacks are on the rise in restaurants

May 12, 2010 | 12:08 pm

To my mind, a 330-calorie dish that contains chicken, cheese, lettuce and tortilla is a lunch. Maybe a dinner. At McDonald’s, the Chipotle BBQ Snack Wrap is just a snack (the name says it all).

Wrap Same goes for a plate of Sweet Corn Tamale Ravioli at California Pizza Kitchen. Though the restaurant dubs it a “small craving,” it’s big enough to set you back 436 calories.

You may have noticed this too. No wonder: According to a report released Wednesday by Mintel Menu Insights, the number of menu items with some version of “snack” in the name has nearly tripled since 2007. And Mintel market researchers expect it to keep on growing.

In their survey, 64% of snackers craved beverages, 52% craved something “indulgent” and 50% craved salty foods. (I’m sure you can relate.) Only 32% ultimately selected healthy snacks.

Snack menus make sense for restaurants, since they help fill seats in the slow time between meals. They also make sense for diners, since snacks cost less than standard meals. The average snacker spends $3.79, according to Mintel.

— Karen Kaplan

Photo: This Honey Mustard Snack Wrap looks kind of like a meal. Credit: McDonald’s USA.

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Comments (4)

I can't wait until restaurants have to tell you the nutritional values. I wonder how much sodium, sugar and fat are in these "snacks".

I think this is an excellent plan.
To me, it's much more inviting to think of a "snack" for lunch, than a "super size" for lunch.
I'd love to daily patronize restaurants which offer a small, tasty portion at a decent price. It's all I require, hunger-wise and nutrition-wise.
I wish there was such a place near my job. Currently, I make my own lunches, but I budget in $6 for a local restaurant salad once a week.
I'd go for the $3.79 per day, for a good, nutritious, snack-sized lunch.
I hope more restaurants follow this trend.

I'm not sure I necessarily agree. The McDonald's wrap (eaten by itself) sounds snackable. In theory, one could eat one for breakfast, one for a mid-morning snack, two for lunch, one for a mid-afternoon snack, and two for dinner and still come in at under 2,000 calories for the day (1,980). Whether 300+ calories is too much for a snack really depends what else a person is eating throughout their day, their exercise regimen, etc.

Disclaimers: Certainly any sides a person would eat would elevate the calorie count. And I don't know the fat, sugar, or sodium content offhand.

A snack should be 100 calories tops! These aren't snacks but mini-meals. Great post! My favorite website for healthy snack ideas is


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