The science of casual munching has proven to be anything but stagnant.

Snacks: sweet, salty, and everywhere in between. They’re so prevalent that it’s easy to take them for granted, given their contribution to the success of the industry. And that role is poised to increase, if snack market trends are any indication.

The effectiveness of the c-store in moving large amounts of snack foods hasn’t been lost on the manufacturers of such goodies. As a result, c-stores have become a focal point in driving snack innovation, and as a result of that there are more variations than ever on the snack concept.

It’s gotten to the point that it might even be valid to ask, “Just what is a snack?”

But that’s a question for another time. For now, we thought it might be interesting to take a look at the development of snacking evolution over the years. We all have our favorites from childhood. And some are gone that we may not even have missed. But let’s go back even further: Just what was in the first wave of c-store snacks?

Well, in a generic sense, nothing striking at all: candy bars, chips, gum, and soda. The product brands may be colorful and interesting, but the class of product, not-so-much. C-stores were a nice-to-have for a petroleum retailer in the 1920’s and 1930’s, item inventories, by-and-large an afterthought. Refrigeration was in its infancy. Delivery of timely product (and enough of it) was an issue as mass production and the science of logistics were still being worked out. One more thing: back in the 20’s and 30’s people considered foods like pie a snack, so these weren’t very practical to for a gas station with a small retail cubbyhole to fill.

Improvements in food production, storage, and continuous availability of stock have all improved since then, kicking off the Golden Age of Snacking in which we now find ourselves. Subsequently, it has become easier to track what people are nibbling on in a more modern era. Here’s a list showing the most popular snacks by decade.

That’s a diverse list of items, but they do all have one thing in common—they were and are all available at a convenience store, though we have to admit, it is not at all indicative of the wide range of items that people in the U.S.—and around the world, for that matter—consider to be snacks.

Speaking of which, that sounds like an interesting topic for the SSCS Blog, right? So be sure to visit next week, for what we are sure will be a survey of some very memorable “treats”! Until then, happy snacking!