The Millennial Snacking Effect

Posted in Millennials on May 19, 2016

Trendsetting millennials know exactly what they want when it comes to snack foods. We’ve posted about the four distinctive types of millennial snackers, and this large consumer group continues to inspire trends.

There are 69 million millennial adults in the U.S., and 11.6 million millennial households with children.1 That’s a pretty impressive segment, and with summer fast approaching, that’s a lot of snacking opportunities. So, take note of the following millennial-inspired trends this season, and use our tips and recipes to get the most out of your snack offerings.


It’s no new trend for consumers to order dishes a certain way (hold the onions), but millennials are redefining those options. Millennial Menus: Culinary Trend Tracking Series from Packaged Facts2 states that customization is an even bigger industry game changer than the fast-casual segment. What’s more, millennials are not loyal to menu offerings, preferring instead to order something different each visit. Variety really is the spice of life when it comes to millennial snacking.

Tips: Keep a well-stocked, ever-changing array of snack items on hand to offer exciting new options to millennial snackers, who are often buying to share with their friends and families as well.


Our Mini Crab Cake Roll can be served with spicy slaw as featured, or customized with a variety of slaws, spreads or fresh salsa for toppings.

Dishes like made-to-order guacamole and dips provide customers with a customizable flavor and heat experience they crave. For summer, consider customizable protein and veggie kebabs or pita sandwiches with dip accompaniments.


Millennials prefer several snacks or small meals throughout the day to the traditional three square meals.3 And gone are the days of mere empty calories and (mostly) processed food. Modern munchie trends are shifting to savory, nutrient-dense and high-protein indulgent snacks, according to the 2016 trend report by Baum + Whiteman consultants. 4

Tips: Feature a well-stocked variety of nutritional breakfast bars, snack bites and meal-inspired bowls, as well as small-portion, protein-rich mini-meals to help fetch more sales.


This healthy and satisfying Avocado Hummus Spread goes great with regular or whole wheat RITZ crackers. Or, for a convenient and sweet fresh-fruit option, try Blueberry Bars.


The currently popular all-in-one bowl menu items owe much of their status to millennials. According to Packaged Facts, bowls also lend themselves well to fast-casual, customizable and personalized “assembly-line” formats like Chipotle. This familiarity means that snack-size and dessert bowls are primed for their market close-up, according to the report.

Tips: Make sure you’re offering sweet and savory meal- and snack-style bowls this summer. Cool and refreshing fruit & yogurt parfaits are perfect for the hot days, and spicy or ethnic flavors are on-trend every season.


Create a delicious salad like this Shaved Fennel & Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese.

Easily present this satisfying Spicy Peanut-Dressed Pasta and Vegetables recipe as a bowl option.

Bonus points: Allow customers to add their favorite available protein to bowls for that customization millennials love!


The food fusion trend continues in the form of mashups such as ramen burgers, cronuts and “nondenominational noodle bars.” 5 The possibilities are truly endless, and inventive restaurateurs can let their creativity run wild when incorporating this popular millennial option.


Brainstorm mashup ideas by looking at your top-selling items and pairing them up—you may be surprised at the items you create! Or, consider an all-time favorite mashup like potato chips on peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, and bring that concept to your menu.


For a fun and spicy twist on the classic comfort food, try the “Queso Fundido” Mac & Cheese.

This Latin-Style Crab Cake Sandwich gets a fun twist and extra heat from its mango salsa.

Dessert gets creatively savory with Roasted Red Pepper & Pesto Cheesecake.

1 Fromm, Jeff, “Snacking Habits Of Millennial Parents Are Shaping The Category For Future Generations,” Forbes, Sept. 9, 2015,
2 Packaged Facts, Millennial Menus: Culinary Trend Tracking Series,
3 Ragone, Gina LaVecchia, “5 menu trends driven by millennials,” Restaurant Hospitality, Apr. 20, 2016,
4 Baum + Whiteman, “11 Hottest Food & Beverage Dining Trends in Restaurant & Hotels, 2016”
5 Packaged Facts, Top 5 Food Trends Fueled by Millennials,

Topics in this article

Related Articles

Sweet Spots: Dessert Diversification Bites and Insights

Indulgent desserts are trending as key to a balanced approach to wellbeing. Explore the diversity of desserts hitting the sweet spot in foodservice today.

Transforming Nostalgic Desserts into New Formats

Basing desserts on a classic dish or nostalgic flavor is a growing trend — which operators can utilize to boost consumer interest and orders.

Social Media Feeds Menu Inspiration, Promotion

Get tips for improving your social media presence and leveraging social media as a tool for your restaurant and convenience store.

Grab-and-Go Breakfast Inspiration

Grab-and-go breakfast items can satisfy customer cravings for convenience—but to make sales soar, operators need to include the right elements.

All About Newstalgia in Desserts

Tweaking familiar dishes to include a new flavor or format could be the menu addition that will pique consumer interest and help increase sales.

Asian Flavors & Formats Feed Dessert Inspiration

Flavors found in a number of dishes traditionally served in Southeast Asia are helping to inspire creative dessert menu options with widespread appeal.

Global Street Foods Offer Portable Culinary Experiences

Global trends around street foods are having an increasing impact on restaurant menus in 2023 and beyond. Learn more about these trends.

How to Use Sweet Treats to Help Drive Profits

An enticing dessert menu can translate into higher sales — if restaurants are able to offer sweet treats that deliver what consumers want.

Non-Alcoholic Beverages Create Excitement on Foodservice Menus

Learn about current beverage trends in 2023 and find new ideas for restaurant mocktails and for the non-alcoholic beverage market.

Perking Up Profits: What’s Brewing in the Coffee Shop Segment

Coffee shops continue to generate buzz and big sales. Explore data-informed insights into the strategies driving the success of Starbucks and Dutch Bros.

Join the Let’s Chat Snacks Community

Be the first to know when we drop new articles, trends and insights, with updates delivered directly to your inbox. Plus, you’ll get an insider perspective on all things foodservice, carefully curated to help you grow your business.