7 Southern Snacks Our Editors Buy on Repeat
Whether shopping at The Pig, Publix, or stopping at the gas station, there are some snacks you just won't find outside the South. On road trips, the go-to might be boiled peanuts and Coke or anything from Buc-ee's, but at home or the office, Southerners have pantries and refrigerators stocked with local treats and beloved favorites. Sweet, salty, and tangy, these Southern snacks are our editors' top picks.
These pickles come from Dadeville, Alabama, and were a secret family recipe until 1998, when brothers Trey and Will Simms transformed their grandma's pickles into a national brand. While these pickles are already a favorite burger topping among Southern chefs, Assistant General Manager Anna Price Olson loves snacking on Wickles Pickles, especially as part of a cheese board and likes that they have a little extra spice compared to other pickles. Associate Social Media Editor, Mary Shannon Wells, also endorses the briny treat, "I introduced them to one of my Kansas City friends on a beach trip and she basically ate the whole jar."
Although you might think of cheese straws as a cocktail appetizer, especially around Christmas, the crunchy and cheesy treat is a year-round snack for Senior Digital News Editor Rebecca Angel Baer. Find them made all over the South in small bakeries, buy them at the grocery store, or make them yourself with our trusted recipe. Making cheese straws was once a way of preserving cheese in the hot and humid South, but we doubt cheese straws will last very long around the house, once everyone gets a taste.
Whether air-fried or made in a cast-iron skillet, fried okra is the kind of snack that converts even the most staunch okra haters. When fried, the veggie's infamous slimy texture disappears. It's extra-crispy from a traditional cornmeal dredge and is a summer classic, when okra is in season. You might see it as a side at the barbecue, but it's worthy of frying up as a snack on its own according to Senior Digital Food Editor, Kimberly Holland.
Zapps colorful striped chip bags are iconic in the South. These chips are kettle-cooked in peanut oil, instead of vegetable oil, and come in many flavors that draw on the company's roots in Louisiana, from Spicy Cajun Crawtator to Sour Cream and Creole Onion. Zapps chips are super crunchy and heavily seasoned, most with a bit of kick, or a lot of kick if sampling the VooDoo flavor–which was actually born from the accidental mixing of all the company's seasonings.
Depending on who you ask, the definition of a Nab might differ. Southern Living contributor and professional food writer Sheri Castle, who has a packet of Nabs in her purse at all times, wrote for the Southern Foodways Alliance that "nabs" is the nickname, "given to a rectangular package of four to six cracker sandwiches sealed in cellophane." But some reserve the term for only the square-shaped, orange variety filled with peanut butter. Nabs originated as a Nabisco product called the "Peanut Sandwich Packet" in 1924. The five-cent portable snack became a check-out counter, newsstand, and gas station staple, then in 1928 the snack was renamed Nabs. Today, the original Nabs are no longer sold. What most people call Nabs today are ToastChee, made by Lance Inc.
Pork Rinds and Cracklins
Pork rinds are a polarizing snack to be sure. But there is a love that runs deeps for this salty and crunchy snack in the South. Southern Recipe has kept their pork rinds recipe the same for 60 years, which is perhaps why the brand has such a loyal following. Before you declare yourself an avowed pork rind hater, try the snack dressed up in our Slow-Cooker Short Ribs with Pork Rind Gremolata. It might just change your mind.
Fritos and Pimento Cheese
Pimento cheese is an all occasions food, but when you're in need of a mid-day snack, it's the ideal salty pick-me-up. If you ask us, Palmetto pimento cheese is the next best thing to homemade, it won all our editors over in a blind taste test. Assistant Home Editor Cameron Beall's go-to is to pile the spread onto a Frito chip, for the perfect snack.