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Rating late-night snacks

| Wednesday, March 31, 2021

On the regular, I — like most students here at Notre Dame — find myself heading to bed between 12:30 and 3:00 a.m. on any given day. That’s a good six-plus hours after dinner, and after having been in class all day, a late-night snack is the only option left. But what to have? And when?

Before we begin, a quick shoutout to Brooke Duncan, my late-night snack buddy who walks to the Pasquerilla West fourth floor ‘vator lounge with me on nights when we have too much work and need some kind of sustenance.

Campbell’s soup or Annie’s mac and cheese

Not the stovetop ones. Although their stovetop versions are much better than either of their microwavable options, they take too long and, you know, require a stove — something here, in the Notre Dame dorm life, that we do not have.

So no, not the stovetop but the microwavable soup. The one that comes in a little cup with the can lid and the red lid over it. I’d give these a 5/10. They are the knockoffs of themselves. They don’t taste as good and you have to sort of eat them straight through — you can’t really put them down for too long. If you do, they get cold really quickly and then what’s the point of eating them in the first place?

The cups for both these get really hot really fast as well, something that cannot be said about the food in them. (Cut to my friend and I walking back from making soup and her just throwing the cup because it was hot, but the little bit of soup that landed on me not burning me in the slightest.)

But, if you have the time to sit and eat them while taking a break from your work, they’re good and they’re reminiscent of childhood and sick days.

Also, these definitely would’ve been a seven had the Campbell’s tops not been so hard to open and splashed soup everywhere when you did finally get them open. Then, after that dock, it would have been a six if the Annie’s fill line wasn’t invisible.

Popcorn

Always a successful move. I don’t care if it’s movie, microwave, prepackaged or skinny pop, you can never go wrong with popcorn.

If you’re reading for class? Popcorn. Watching a movie? Popcorn. Talking with friends? Popcorn. It’s easy to share, easy to clean up and always tastes good. All you have to do is make sure you have something to drink because about halfway through a microwavable bag, you’re going to need it.

The one pause against popcorn is that while writing a paper or taking notes, popcorn can become a little tedious. If you don’t religiously use a napkin (as one always should, but just in case you don’t) it will be all over your keyboard or your pen and then it becomes a hassle to clean up. Despite this though, it’s cheap and has good flavor, ultimately an 8.7/10.

Dining hall carrots

Much like popcorn, carrots are always a good option.

They are hydrating, require no prep time and are easy to come by. They are also flexible in regards to how you can eat them. You can have them with ranch, peanut butter or by themselves. The coolness of the fridge stays present on them like a little wake-up call. This comes in handy if you are in the middle of grinding out a paper or trying to get some reading done and can’t fully stay awake.

The fact that they are offered in the dining hall too (especially as a woman living in PW) is instrumental to their success here. Store some in your fridge after dinner and eat them later that night.

I give them a 9/10 for accompaniment options, convenience and overall goodness. One point off for when they have freezer burn from sitting in the bottom of the dining hall refrigerator bin — an all-around sad moment indeed.

Chips

In this group, chips rank last. They aren’t filling. You’d have to eat a good portion of the bag to feel like you ate anything. And, they are unnecessarily greasy or cheesy or crumby, so they get everywhere. Late-night snacks need to be at least somewhat functional in one way or another and chips just do not cut it.

I rate them 3/10 because it’s still food and they can be enjoyable in general. Plus one for Doritos, because those are messy but never disappointing. Overall though, not going to cut it.

Rice-A-Roni — Chicken flavor (No endorsement, I promise.)

This is a 10/10. The greatest late-night snack ever. It comes in a cute little red cup with easy-to-follow microwave instructions and an obvious fill line. The flavor is there, the rice isn’t crunchy or too soggy. There is no powder you have to pour in anymore either — it’s already mixed in, so the flavor is better distributed than it used to be.

As for functionality, it’s all in one cup, it stays hot even though the cup doesn’t get too hot. And, if you’re on a roll with your work, you can set it down and it will stay warm until you pick it up again. Because it is rice, it is filling and it’s also not very expensive. The Huddle can never stay stocked enough with this flavor because it is so good.

The one issue is that you can’t just pop it into your mouth like carrots, chips or popcorn but the warmth and comfort of Rice-A-Roni outweigh that concern.

These are just my humble opinions after two years of research in the halls of PW’s section 4b. Happy snacking!

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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