How SnackWell's Became Infamous Before Being Discontinued

Box of SnackWell's cookies
Box of SnackWell's cookies - melissamn / Shutterstock

If you grew up during the '90s or 2000s, you may remember this period as overwhelmingly concerned with weight loss. In particular, people wanted to reduce or eliminate fat from their diets. As a result, food manufacturers began creating "healthified" versions of snacks that had fewer calories — and, consequentially, less flavor. Ice cream became frozen yogurt, chips were baked rather than fried, and cookies and crackers became SnackWell's. This was a line of allegedly "better-for-you" snacking cookies launched by food manufacturing giant Nabisco in 1992. The product lineup featured several sweet and savory treats, including cheese crackers and devil's food cookie cakes.

SnackWell's stood out for offering fat-free treats at a time when consuming calories from fat was demonized. The brand's premise was that it allowed you to have your cake and eat it, too — all without breaking your low-fat diet. As a result, SnackWell's flew off the shelves and quickly became a household staple. Did they taste great? No. But they purportedly helped people lose weight.

There was just one infamous problem, though: People didn't lose weight. This is likely due to a few factors. For one, SnackWell's products may have contained low or zero fat, but they still had plenty of carbs, which we now know can halt weight loss just as much as fat-based calories. Additionally, because people ate more than SnackWell's suggested serving size, a phenomenon began that would come to be known as The SnackWell Effect.

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The Fall Of SnackWell's

Box of SnackWell's mini cookie packs
Box of SnackWell's mini cookie packs - miss.bargainista / Instagram

The incorrect premise behind fat-free dieting was simple: Don't eat fat, and nothing you eat will turn into fat. Although SnackWell's touted its products as being low-fat, it called much less attention to the rest of its nutrition facts. SnackWell's were higher in carbohydrates and sugar than many other snacking options. If you weren't around at the time, then this probably sounds like an ineffective dieting choice. Back in the '90s and 2000s, however, fat was far more reviled than carbs, so diets of the time starkly contrasted more modern options like the Keto diet, which opts for high-fat, low-carb foods. Even so, SnackWell's high carb count wasn't enough to send the brand into eternal infamy.

Because folks figured they were enjoying a "healthified" snack instead of the real deal, they often ate more than the suggested serving size. In reality, a lot of low-calorie options don't actually satiate consumers, and eating too much of anything — even fat-free snacks — can cause weight gain. So, at the height of SnackWell's popularity, not only were people not losing weight, but in some cases, they were gaining it. After consumers saw that SnackWell's wasn't the key to weight loss, the brand fizzled out over the decades and officially shut down in 2022.

Read the original article on Mashed