This week, we interviewed Folu Akinkuotu, a home cook who writes Unsnackable, a newsletter about snacks from around the world.
What's your Substack about in one sentence?
Unsnackable is a small tantrum about obscure and limited edition snacks, beverages, and fast food from around the world that I want but cannot have.
You write about how your parents used to own vending machines. How did that lead to exploring snacks around the world?
I've been on the hunt for the best snacks since I was in elementary school, and helping to stock vending machines taught me to look beyond my cravings to consider what other people would enjoy. It honed my tastes but also made me curious about everything new and novel.
After years of reading snack blogs and consumer packaged goods trade publications, I started to spend more time online looking at international snacks during quarantine because I couldn't travel and take my usual strolls through grocery stores and mini-marts.
After looking at countries ranging from Ukraine to South Africa, what have you learned about how other places approach snacks?
I didn't expect to find out that around the world, snacks are so hyperlocal. As an outsider, it is easy to dismiss seemingly identical iterations of the same foods from the same regions, but locals always have strong opinions about their favorites informed by their access and their experiences.
Why did you decide on your categories of sweet, savory, thirsty, and boozy?
I wanted to have a bit of room within the categories in case I had trouble finding enough snacks to feature every week, so I chose the broadest interpretations of the types of snacks that I crave regularly.
For many of us, snacks bring a certain joy that meals don’t. What do you see as the role of snacks?
Snacking is a way to engage with your ephemeral desires – with what you crave at that moment instead of having to plan, cook, and clean up after an entire meal.
What’s the most interesting snack you’ve come across?
My answer to this question changes on a near-weekly basis, but I've spent a lot of time thinking about the scallion-chocolate ice cream sandwich I featured in Unsnackable a few months ago. All of the individual components are recognizable (cookies, ice cream, sauce) but the exact iterations found in this treat are beyond my imagination. Scallion-chocolate cookies, toffee sauce, and scallion ice cream? It just makes my brain short-circuit.
Who's another Substack writer you'd recommend?
Meaghan Garvey is endlessly talented in so many mediums that it makes my head spin. Her Substack SCARY COOL SAD GOODBYE is just as incredible as her art and her DJ sets and everything else creative she touches.