The Official Office Snack Guide: Best (and Worst) Snacks for the Office

Office Snacks, Snacking Styles, and Your Not-So-Secret Self

We could try, gentle reader, to draw parallels between you reaching for a peanut butter cup at the office snack bar instead of a bag of rice cakes, and what that says about your office personality or ideal love match. We could conflate a snack choice of raw carrots and hummus with the extroverted, appearance-driven sales pro, or connect a snack choice hard candy with the hard thinking accounting mastermind.  

But the truth is, the sea of snacking styles is vast and most of us dog paddle in many munching waters depending upon what’s up at work, at home, and all around. At times, we choose the display-it-proudly, eat-it-publicly, healthy office snacks. At other times, we opt for the insulin-rush inducing, expiration-date-optional junk food snacks. Join us as we explore the ins and outs of office snacking, including what your choice of munchie means about how your day/week/life is going. 

Office Snack Etiquette 101

When it comes to snacking in the workplace, we have one word: etiquette: But first, some etymology. The word “etiquette” is French and refers to printed and posted rules associated with acceptable behavior in polite company (ah, the word company!), especially among palace visitors of the king of France, Louis XIV. Etiquette is different from manners. Manners are attached to one’s personality, such as kindness and consideration. Etiquette is specific to external situations, like visiting Louis XIV or snacking on a Zoom call. The key to etiquette is to look for clues. You won’t see posted signs, but you can read the unwritten rules by observing what’s happening around you. Get ahead at the office by looking around.  

  • Smells: If your colleagues are not snacking on canned mackerel mid-morning in your open plan office, best you leave the surströmming at home.
  • Misophonia: If corn nuts are being crunched and pistachios being shelled left and right, go crazy with your own non-silent snack tendencies. If, on the other hand, the office prefers a more hushed snack hour, be considerate of others with less audible edibles.
  • Snacking on Screen: Zooming and munching is a delicate dance. If your co-workers aren’t digging into a bag of Doritos™ during the team meeting or quarterly update, front load on remote office snacks before turning your video on. Especially with newly formed remote teams, video face time should serve to connect and engage. The fewer distractions, snacking or otherwise, the better.

To Share or Not to Share, That Is the Question

The best office snacks are always, without exception, the ones your colleague brings. As you stare at your pre-packaged celery spears and single-serve packet of almond butter, your neighbor’s pot stickers might look mighty appealing. But just say no. Say “no” to the urge to ask. A few tips: 

  • Single Serving Means Not Your Serving: If your teammate wants to share, it’ll be obvious. Keep this office snack idea top of mind: If it’s meant to be shared, it’ll be on display and there will be an unlimited supply. Think boxes of Meyer lemons from your coworker’s tree, or ribs and chicken left over from a weekend barbecue.
  • “Take One” Means Dive In: If public consumption is the name of the game, the signs will be clear—as in “free,” “enjoy”, or “help yourself.” Otherwise, when you see your coworkers’ edamame in the microwave or cold brew in the crisper, stand back.

Office Snacks, Self-Expression, and Ensuring Coworkers Feel Seen

Food is personal and the best office snacks are, too. Office snack ideas that reflect the preferences of your team are a great way to let your employees know you care about them as individuals. With office snacks you have a unique opportunity to show appreciation and respect.  

  • Take a Poll: Ask employees for their office snack ideas and do your best to accommodate them. Even if it turns out there isn’t enough demand to, say, keep organic apples in the break room or fresh smoothies in the fridge, the effort shows your employees you respect and value their health.
  • Send It Home: For employees working remotely or working from home, send quarterly care packages that include favorite snacks. Your team members are reminded you care with every cookie crumbled or snack pack opened.

Best Office Snacks for Looooong Workdays

Having a bad day? The best office snacks will help get you through a meeting-filled Monday or never-ending project. Check out our guide to the best office snack ideas for bad day scenarios: 

  • Cranky: Cranky can be “hangry” (hungry and angry), and we’ve all been there: Everyone’s annoying and every meeting’s a waste of time. You’re going to want some protein. Grab some almonds or a hard-boiled egg. Lay off the caffeine until you’ve got some leafy greens or whole grains in your system.
  • Sad: Kids like candy and so do adults, especially when we’re in the doldrums or feeling lonely. Luckily, as we get older we get better at portion control and crowding out. Portion control is obvious: Eat a few pieces of dark chocolate or one packet of Skittles™ rather than going overboard and giving yourself another thing to feel sad about (tummy ache). Crowding out is eating a few healthy snacks first, and supplanting with good old fashioned sweet snacks after that. In addition, chat with a colleague or take a five-minute walk. This way you’re using sweets and candy to lift your mood, not feed your body.
  • Anxious: Haul out the kale chips. Kale contains folate, which is thought to increase good feelings and decrease anxiety. A leafy green salad is good, too, but we’re talking easy office snack ideas here, folks. Let’s keep the bar low and success rate high.  Also grab almonds and avocados, which contain anxiety-reducing magnesium. In general, for reducing anxiety, think healthy office snacks.
  • Allergic: Or cold/cough-ish. Help fight it all off with tea, turmeric, onions, garlic, ginger, and omega-3 fatty acids like those found in salmon. Admittedly, you may fight off a few colleagues as well, especially when you haul out the salmon. Pick a less populated corner of the breakroom when your preventative snacking becomes smelly.

Final Office Snack Ideas

When it comes to office snacks, the best approach might well be, “Hey, give it a whirl!” Coworker feedback is nearly instantaneous, making small experiments a must! Crunch, munch, or microwave an odoriferous mid-morning delicacy. Then look around furtively, gauge coworker response, pivot, repeat, and prosper. Happy snacking!  

P.S. Though we’re hard-pressed to attach office personality types to Pringles™ vs. hearts of palm as a midday snack choice, we do have a quick and easy guide to office types, from the workaholic to the gossip, and everyone in between: 13 Office Personality Types – Who’s In Your Office? [Infographic]

Karleen Wise Andersen

From marketing tips to product recommendations, I’m here to help small businesses be their best.

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