In the world of snacks there are sweets, and then there are the salties. They’re diametric opposites like the yin and the yang. Combining forces, they round out the realm of snacks to create unity from disparity.
The main ingredient in salties is, not surprisingly, salt. While salty and sweet are not necessarily opposing tastes, they are certainly two wildly different kinds of flavor. Most salty snacks are based on deep fried or baked vegetable or nut products. Healthy doses of salt and other flavoring help to round out the taste.
One major concern among snack aficionados is the prevalence of MSG (monosodium glutamate) in salty snack foods. MSG is considered by health experts as a dangerous substance, and yet is has full approval from the FDA for use in the food industry. Many products now specifically state that they have no MSG, but even still trace amounts can be detected. MSG is a food additive that enhances the taste of any kind of salty food. It’s been popularized by Asian cuisine (in fact, its introduction to American cuisine was mainly the result of captured Japanese rations in WWII) and is now found in many salty snacks.
The verdict isn’t in yet on the MSG war in America. Both sides of the fence are pushing for their own respective lobby. If you can find snack food without MSG, you should probably stick to it. There’s not much else you can do.
Perhaps the most famous of salty snacks is the potato chip. Chips have been a favorite in America since the mid 1800’s when a Native American by the name of George Crum stumbled upon it.
There are a number of other potato based snack foods that can be created through a variety of other cuts and processing.
Another major salty snack food is based on nuts. Everything from peanuts to pistachios can be dried, baked, and salted to your tastes.
Corn based snack foods are another huge market. Many of the corn snacks are loosely based on Mexican cuisine. Tortillas are one of the better-known corn snacks, but a number of other snacks like Fritos and popcorn enjoy wide popularity.
There are a number of other snacks that defy simple categorization. We’ll cover these cross-disciplined snacks too in a later article.
The only real downside to salty snacks is the parched feeling you get from dehydration. Of course, a glass of water could quickly rectify that! Sweets tend to be more a dessert item, though more and more people are eating them at regular intervals. Salty snacks have their time and place, and they’re especially good when you don’t have time for a full-fledged meal.