When I started to write this I was eating a fudge bar and my husband was rhapsodizing about ordering dessert empanadas for delivery. When people are stressed they either tend to not eat (“I just don’t have an appetite,” swears one of my friends) or they eat more (that’s me—and my biz partner Maria). Well we’re not alone, according to NPD’s Snack Food Behaviors in Challenging Times study which shows, “Snack food consumption increased 8% during the pandemic as consumers seek comfort through savory and sweet snacks.”

The NDP Groups notes that American consumers historically turn to “indulgent snack foods for comfort during challenging times” but coronavirus snacking has exceeded that during the Great Recession.

In fact between 2008 and 2010 snacks saw a 1% increase, while just this April (when the original safer-at-home orders were at a peak) 37% of consumers said they wanted to make sure they had a sufficient supply of snack foods on hand.

The favorite snacks? The most in-demand were salty treats and frozen sweets.

As with most snackers, people who had more snacks in their house, consumed more snack food (who has discipline during a global pandemic?).

“We’ve seen consumers turn to indulgent snack foods in other challenging times,” says Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. “Although we can’t predict what’s going to happen in the future, I think it’s safe to say snack food manufacturers and retailers can expect elevated snack food usage while COVID-19 restricts our restaurant usage and overall movement, in particular school closings and work from home orders.”

So if you sell snack food, stock up. If you have a restaurant and are once again facing restrictions on number of diners or indoor eating, think about how you can creatively package snacks for pickup or delivery.

I’ve just been informed by my husband that we’re ordering some dessert empanadas tomorrow. Luckily, the restaurant delivers.

Snacks stock photo by Yuganov Konstantin/Shutterstock