Another giant in the salty snack food industry is corn. Unlike potatoes, corn grows out of the ground and is extremely rich in complex nutrients like vitamins. It’s a difficult plant to grow, and they don’t even reproduce on their own. A farmer must place every kernel into the ground by him or herself.
Corn is extremely versatile in its dried state, and has spawned a large number of snack products. Most large-scale corn manufacturing processes are highly automated. Machines automatically collect, process, and de-kernel every cob in a matter of minutes. From there, they can either be flash frozen or in our snack case, dried.
Dried corn can serve a variety of functions. They can be used directly to make popcorn, for one thing. Popcorn is a huge favorite for moviegoers and sports enthusiasts around country. It’s a simple food that is healthy if not eaten in excess or heavily salted and buttered. A number of healthy food snacks are based on simple popcorn with added preservatives.
Tortillas have been a major influence on the snack industry. They are traditionally a Mexican food that has been brought into the American fold as a snack item. They are made from corn flour, and often baked instead of deep fried like potato chips are. That’s what makes tortillas so attractive to the snack food market. They’re not greasy, and won’t wreck your day with digestion problems if you eat too much. They can be enjoyed in so many other ways compared to potato chips. With chips, you can often only add a dip of some sort. But with tortillas, you can add salsa, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, and even beef or chicken! That’s of course a fine line between a snack and a meal, but kudos to tortillas for being so flexible.
Another major corn snack is the Frito chip. It’s a processed corn chip that is significantly thicker and greasier than a plain tortilla. They’re often quite greasy as well, and heavily flavored.
In an interesting flip of the whole corn concept as a salty snack, many popcorn boutiques now offer sweet flavors that can transform the once salty snack into a sweet confection.