Snacklaces have been providing Winter Beer Dabbler attendees with conveniently located nibbles since we were still kickin’ it back in Mears Park, and we’re always excited to see what new innovations our longtime fans come up with.
If you’re brand new to the concept or have never built a snacklace before, we put together this guide to talk you through the finer points of edible jewelry construction. Pay attention, and we’ll have you looking like a cross between Guy Fieri and Flava Flav in no-time!
First, the Rules
Beer Dabbler policy clearly states that “No outside food or beverages are allowed” in our festivals. Please don’t make us be cops about this. We will throw your food away and we hate wasting food almost as much as you’re going to hate your food being wasted.
However, in deference and respect to beer festival traditions, snacklaces will be allowed at Winter Beer Dabbler 2022. Consider this your delicious loophole, and don’t abuse it.
A Brief History of the Snacklace
Webster’s Dictionary defines “snacklace” as “A necklace that has food attached to it”, but this simple definition does little to capture the rich history and nuances of the art form.
It is said that the first snacklaces were worn by horsemen who were participating in a series of races that were held in honor of the marriage of Kronprinz Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in Munich, Germany in 1810. These gallant young noblemen-riders chose to stay in the saddle and race all day in order to prove their devotion and capability to the Queen-to-be, and their daring exploits helped this festival go down in history as the very first Oktoberfest celebration.
One clever manservant, realizing that his master was about to keel over from hunger, strung several pretzels and tubes of hearty landjäger sausage together with roughspun twine from the stables and hung it around his lord’s neck. When the nobleman’s competitors realized that their rival now had easy access to nourishment and could still grip his horses’ reigns with both hands, they sent their respective servants to fashion similar devices, and the snacklace was born**.
**We made most of this up.
Construction: The String
Unless you’re planning on creating a truly avant garde piece, you probably don’t have to spend too much time thinking about the string that your snacklace will hang upon. Any strong and durable piece of twine or string that you have around the house should do the trick. We recommend a length of about 30 inches and then sizing up further depending on the size of your chosen snacks. Make sure to try on your snacklace while wearing your full winter jacket set-up, lest your snacklace turn into more of a snack-choker.
If you think you’re going to need something stronger than twine, we recommend using a thin paracord, like you might use for camping. We’ve seen folks using high-tension fishing line as well, but can’t recommend it as the thinner line has a tendency to dig in under weight.
Ingredients Tier 1: The Basics
Hard pretzels are so integral to snacklace construction that in some parts of the United States, the erroneous term “pretzel necklace” is more commonly used than “snacklace.” A pretzel’s large holes make it extremely easy to string up, and the bland, crunchy, and salty flavor makes a perfect palate cleanser between samples at a beer festival. While they won’t fill you up much, the pretzel’s sheer utility should make it the foundation of any proper snacklace.
A word on seasoning: While we adore the flavor of seasoned pretzels like Minnesota’s own Von Hanson’s, we’d steer you away from them for snacklace usage as the seasoning powder has a tendency to make a mess all over your jacket when the pretzels are hung directly on the line.
Some folks opt to string actual soft pretzels on their snacklace as well, perhaps in a nod to their horsebound forebears in Munich. These doughy delights still retain much of the utility of their smaller brethren, but have the added benefit of being more filling, if that’s what you’re into.
Personal Size Bagged Snacks:
The delight of every kiddo’s lunchbox, these fun-sized snack bags are an ideal staple for any snacklace thanks to their light weight and ability to keep your treats protected against the elements. For pretzel-haters, bagged snacks can also serve as a dependable and flavorful foundation.
If you’re planning on stringing the bag directly on the line, we recommend punching a small hole in the upper left or right corner of the bag, rather than the center, as this will allow you to partially open a bag and grab a bite on the go without removing it from your line.
Meat Sticks / Jerky
While salt is great when you’re having several beers, at some point, you’re going to want some protein too. Meat sticks and jerky are perfect for providing a surge of energy and helping you power through a few more samples before you take a food truck break.
Pre-wrapped meat sticks or personal sized jerky bags, ideally with the retail hanger, are going to be your best bet here. While we love spicy flavors with a burning passion, we will also recommend against blowing your palate out with too many nuclear pepperoni nibbles.
There’s something about tearing stringy strands off of a stick of processed mozzarella cheese that makes our inner child sing with joy. Cheese sticks offer a tasty bump of protein and the same hermetically sealed benefits as meat sticks. Plus, as any proper Midwesterner knows: Beer without cheese is like peanut butter without jelly.
Dried Fruit / Fruit Snacks
Apply the exact same principles that you would with bagged snacks or jerky to this category, but pat yourself on the back for attempting to offset all the beer you’re about to drink with some actual vitamins.
Ingredients Tier 2: Pushing the Envelope
Sealed Snack Packs (Aka Adult Lunchables)
Definitely the most practical of all Tier 2 fare, sealed snack packs often contain a mix of proteins, cheeses and starches. These can range from a classy mix of charcuterie and fine cheese to the ritz-cracker-and-turkey-disc nostalgia of a Lunchable, but they all deliver the same basic premise: nourishment with a side of variety. Try to avoid snack packs featuring dips unless you want a bunch of hummus or ranch dressing rolling down the front of your jacket. Once again, retail hanger packages are going to be your friend here.
We have a hard time recommending candy as a snacklace item simply because we find that we get enough sugar from all of the beer that we’re drinking. That said, If you’ve got a real sweet tooth, candy isn’t entirely uncommon on snacklaces. We tend to see a lot of protein-packed chocolate bars like Snickers or the brewer’s-favorite Salted Nut Roll.
Homemade Snack Bags
Thanks to a wonderful invention called the ziploc sandwich bag, inventive beer festival attendees can buck the big chip companies create their own pre-mixed snack bags containing all manner of goodies. We’ve seen everything from homemade pub mixes and trail mixes, to puppy chow, bagged meat snacks, vegetables, you name it. As in other areas, snacks that are bite sized and relatively low-mess are best.
Want a bit more utility out of your snack bags? Try using a binder clip as your hanger rather than punching a hole in your bag. This allows you to easily remove your snack bag from your line for a quick bite and then put it back.
Donuts and Bagels
If pretzels work great on snacklaces because of their holes, then naturally so would bagels and donuts, right? In theory, perhaps, but in practice, these breakfast staples tend to be a bit less practical than their twisty cousins.
Donuts, while extremely delicious, often lack the structural integrity necessary to remain on a snacklace even through the relatively mild jostles of a beer festival. Plus, any sort of glaze, frosting, sprinkle or filling is going to end up on your jacket. No good.
Bagels, while significantly sturdier than donuts, often aren’t the most interesting thing to eat without the addition of some sort of schmear. Still, with the right flavoring these could be durable and extremely filling snacklace pieces.
Ingredients Tier 3: You’ve Jumped the Shark
Prepared Foods, But in a Bag
Generally, we’d recommend against trying to string actual prepared food items around your neck. They’re heavy and bulky, and more importantly, they sort of defeat the spirit of the thing. After all, it’s called a “snacklace” not a “meal-lace” (sounds gross tbh).
If you feel you must, we’ve found that the most practical prepared food items for snacklace usage are reasonably sized, bagged hand foods like sandwiches or slices of pizza. Chicken or turkey legs make you look like a medieval barbarian (not in a good way). Burgers and other hot sandwiches are far too cumbersome and don’t taste particularly good cold. Anything you’d have to eat with a spoon or fork is just not going to pan out logistically. Plus, you’ve gotta save room for the food trucks!
While popular with outdoorsy types like the ice fishing crowd, canned foods like tinned fish or SPAM are certain to draw you some quizzical looks from your fellow Dabblers when deployed from a snacklace. Tinned fish has a tendency to be messy and stinky, with a lingering flavor that might interfere with your ability to sample beer. SPAM is just plain disgusting when cold (but delicious when warmed).
Dehydrated Camping Meals
First of all, good luck finding hot water to get your camping meal started. Second, this isn’t the Iditarod, cowboy. It’s a beer festival. Save these for your next backpacking trip so our staff don’t have to throw them directly into the trash when you arrive.
The Fast Food You Grabbed on the Way to the Festival
Please don’t sloppily attempt to hang your McDonalds bag from a piece of string you had in your car and carry it into our festival around your neck. This is the equivalent of showing up to a family meal with fast food and attempting to pass it off as your own cooking. You should be ashamed of yourself.