The Food in Our Desks

By: Matt Teegarden

Growing up, and through most of college, I was rather regimented in the times at which I ate my meals.  Like an alarm clock, my stomach would growl- letting me know it is 3:00, time to eat my afternoon snack.  Then I started grad school, and something must have happened to my clock because now it just goes off all the time. I find myself constantly reaching in the bottom left drawer of my desk to grab a few almonds or some pieces of whatever dried fruit was on sale this week.

As a student of food science, I have to say I am a little ashamed at how lame my stash is. Adventurous taste buds are an unspoken requirement of this field, and the only interesting thing I keep is a supply of “desk” za’atar.  I added the “desk” in front so I can differentiate it from the giant jar of this middle eastern spice blend I keep at home.

Knowing that I am not the only chronic snacker in my program, I set out to see what my fellow grad students keep in their desks to satisfy their mid-morning/late-afternoon/all-day need to chow down.

IMG_0363The student who sits at the desk to my immediate left has her own stash of desk za’atar (copy cat) but also a bag of delectably spicy Thai lime and chili seasoned cashews.  She also keeps a bag of “emergency coffee” for when she accidentally runs out of grounds for her french press.

A quick trip the other offices in the department revealed which of my coworkers are hoarders of diet root beer, bagels, soba noodles, peanut butter, and other shelf-stable delicacies.

It’s good to know that I can forget my lunch in confidence.

But let’s move along to the more exotic finds.  Ever heard of quinoa candy?  Yeah- apparently that is a thing. And apparently it is hard to find, so the student who indulges in this item keeps it carefully hidden (bottom left drawer, behind the file folders…don’t tell her I told you).

There was one desk that truly took the cake*. This student had a veritable treasure trove of strange goodies including jasmine and green tea flavored chocolates, countless other candies, and alligator jerky- no doubt courtesy of IFT14.

Now that I know where to go the next time I run out of desk snacks, I am curious to know if anybody else has a go-to snack they cannot live without.  Do you keep any interesting snack items in your desk (or backpack)?  Share with us in the comments below!

*note: no cake was actually found in this desk.


Science Meets Food

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  1. Chips and a bottle of sriracha to go on them. Can’t beat it.

  2. Chocolate covered espresso beans. Caffeine to keep me going and chocolate to calm failed-experiment-induced rage. 🙂

  3. i always have hot sauce, roasted garlic/black pepper grinder, and vacuum packed tuna in my bottom right hand drawer for snacking or an emergency meal

  4. A jar of honey roasted peanut butter and a spoon… It’s all I need to get through the afternoon.

  5. I always have a Vega One bar in my backpack. I keep my stash on my bookshelf so I can see when I’m dipping too low into the reserves.

  6. I almost always have an emergency snack in my backpack, which usually results in hungry Evann scarfing down a very flat Nutrigrain bar. Also delicious –homemade trail mix in an emergency jar or a fruit with a low respiration rate. Have you tried those Luna bars? They are GOOD. Who knew dates could be so versatile with other flavor combinations.

    P.s. I love this article! Great job, Matt. You are a great writer.

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