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The Best Snacks to Eat While Coding
There are some activities that go so well with snacks that the pairing has become a trope in American society. You’ve got movies and popcorn, baseball and peanuts, camping and s’mores. Coding may not have a recognizable companion snack that’s engraved on society’s consciousness, but I have identified, though highly unscientific and enjoyable research, several strong candidates.
But first, the criteria! What makes a snack good for coding? It’s got to be…
- Low-risk – Liquids make for dangerous bedfellows where keyboards are concerned.*
*We’re also going to avoid crumbs on this list, although there is a way to cheat the system – stay tuned!
- Finger-friendly – You shouldn’t have to worry about enlisting an intermediary between snack and keyboard, be it a napkin, a fork, chopsticks, etc.
- Delightful – everything you enjoy about your coding environment, from your comfy chair to your cheerful bobbleheads to your snack of choice, serves as a counterpoint to your inevitable frustration. Sure, unsalted nuts are low-risk and finger-friendly, but does munching on one while reading an error message make you feel less like throwing your computer out the nearest window? I rest my case.
Now that that’s out of the way, my go-to coding snacks are… [insert drumroll here]…
Cheerios (without milk)
Mitch Hedberg has a joke about rice that goes “Rice is great when you’re really hungry and want 2,000 of something”. There is a similar principle behind cheerios. When you just want to pick at a snack while working, you can stretch cheerios out for a while by eating one or two at a time. They’re easily portable, have a satisfying crunch, and won’t get crumbs on your keyboard.
Aka pre-wine. Just kidding. Kind of. Grapes are awesome because they’re bite-sized, have skin to protect your fingers, and are basically candy when you freeze them. Also, maybe raisins. I feel like they might be sticky and therefore fail the finger-friendly test, but I don’t want to discount them just because I find them repulsive. If grapes’ sad cousins are your cup of tea, they just might make a good coding snack.
Blueberries are great for many of the same reasons as grapes. They also have a nostalgic edge for me as my dad has always been a huge blueberry fan and we would often eat them on the porch together throughout my childhood. Eating blueberries while coding feels like my dad is cheering me on.
I’m burying this one in the middle because it’s a bit of a cheat. There is an intermediary – the packaging – but because it remains on the cheese and doesn’t have to be handled separately, one could make the argument that it doesn’t count. Also, in order to pass the finger-friendly requirement, you are obligated to eat it like a wild animal: just chomping down with reckless abandon rather than pulling it into strings. Look, I’m not condoning it, I’m just saying it’s possible, okay? Don’t @ me.
I have been informed by my British fiancé that in the U.K., Smarties are chocolates coated in a candy shell. If they’re anything like m&ms, U.K. Smarties would be fine for a minute or two, but eventually they’d stain your fingers. If you’re down with a sticky rainbow-colored keyboard, that’s your business, but for the purpose of this list I recommend the U.S. version – a sweet powdery disc about the size of an m&m that looks like this:
(photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon via Unsplash)
In the same vein, jelly beans are a bite-sized non-sticky sweet treat perfect for accompanying your coding adventures. There’s also loads of variety when it comes to flavors. Heck, you can even get grass-flavored jelly beans if you want to pretend you’re eating kale instead.
Any variety of tiny, bite-sized tomato makes a convenient coding snack. Plus their bright, cheery color makes them easy to find should you drop one on the floor under your desk.
For the same reason as cherry tomatoes, baby carrots are the tops. As soon as you add a dipping sauce, though, you violate the low-risk principle, so leave that Ranch dressing on the shelf unless you like living dangerously.
My personal favorite way to satisfy a salt craving is with mini pretzels. If you’re one of those people who can’t resist biting them into even smaller pieces (me), I have good news for you. Remember when I told you there was a way to cheat the system when it comes to crumbs? Allow me to introduce you to my good friend silicone keyboard covers. They’re pretty cheap, easy to clean, and come in a variety of colors. Mine is clear, so I like to imagine crumbs dive-bombing my keyboard only to be surprised and confused when they can’t get through.
Another nostalgic favorite! You can make a Red Vine last by nibbling it slowly, eat a whole ‘Vine with no hands froot-by-the-foot-challenge-style, or suck on a piece until it dissolves in your mouth. On especially warm days you may need to forgo this one due to stickiness, but under temperate conditions a Red Vine makes an excellent coding snack.
P.S. If you’ve never bitten both tips off a Red Vine and used it as a straw, now is a great time to start.
P.P.S. If you’re of legal drinking age and that is something you partake in, I recommend pairing your Red Vine straw with bourbon and Dr. Pepper. You’re welcome.
Happy snacking, programmers!
[Photo credit: Goran Ivos via Unsplash]