(BPT) - Snacks, produce, drinks or sweets - if it is a seasonal offering, Americans are anxiously awaiting it. According to Nielsen, Americans spend about $374 billion annually on snack foods. For many of those snack lovers, items that are only available for a limited time are one of the major highlights of seasonal occasions and holidays, especially this time of year when, according to a recent Cheetos brand survey, 65 percent of Americans profess their love of seasonal Easter treats.
Whether your favorite holiday arrives in spring, summer, winter or fall, seasonal treats can sweeten your enjoyment of the season. No one wants to miss the coveted special flavors and offerings that appear on store shelves for short stints and are quickly cleared out by that clever 'seasonal snack stockpiler' who is always one step ahead of you. So here's your guide to the top treats to watch for this spring, and throughout the year.
It might still be too chilly to feel like spring in some areas of the country, but St. Patrick's Day undoubtedly marks the start of the springtime snacking season. Milkshake lovers will kick things off with mint-green milkshakes, and quickly turn their attention to Easter candies and snacks.
Chocolate and marshmallow sweets are the traditional stars of Easter baskets across the country - for both the young, and the young at heart. It is no surprise that 71 percent of parents who celebrate Easter admit to sneaking snacks from their kids' baskets, according to the Cheetos survey.
Of course, everyone is familiar with jelly beans, peanut butter eggs, chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks, but the majority of consumers say they desire more variety beyond just candy. This year, there's a new must-try alternative to satisfy the search for something beyond the candy animal monotony. Cheetos Sweetos, the cinnamon-sugar version of everyone's favorite cheddar cheese snacks is reappearing in stores - and Easter baskets - this spring, but only for a limited time. Launched in 2015, Sweetos snacks are the perfect, and delicious, twist on Easter snacking.
Frozen treats are the highlight of summer, but not just the ice cream quarts you find year-round in the freezer cases at your local grocer. Summer means the ice cream truck will be rolling through neighborhood streets, sounding that familiar melodic 'come and get it' tune and serving up frozen favorites that you just can't find anywhere else - or at any other time of year.
You can't go wrong with the missile-shaped, multi-colored ice pops that beckon from beside a myriad of fruit-flavored cream pops, or reliable favorites like ice cream sandwiches and chocolate-topped cones. And don't forget snow cones - the refreshing shaved ice in perfect spheres mounted on a paper funnel and topped with your favorite sweet flavoring!
Of course everyone knows fall is pumpkin season - and you should take every chance to enjoy all things pumpkin-flavored this time of year, from coffee and ice cream to bread, cake and pie.
However, autumn also heralds state fair season across the country - and the arrival of a variety of innovative sweet treats that can only be enjoyed among the unique surroundings of fair rides, tickets and games. Funnel cakes are a state fair staple, and what could be better when the weather gets nippy than enjoying lightly sweetened, deep-fried dough dusted heavily with confectioner's sugar? Depending on where you live in the country and which fair you attend, you can find over-the-top sweets and snacks such as deep-fried ice cream, fried candy bars and even pretzel-encrusted brownies deep-fried on a stick.
Of course, winter holidays are the pinnacle of seasonal snacking. From the final weeks of pumpkin season to the eggnog, candy canes and baked goods associated with holiday moments from Thanksgiving through New Year's, winter serves up a buffet of food and snacks that are available at no other time of year.
Winter's arrival means anticipated delicacies like gingerbread-flavored everything, bite-sized candy favorites that marry mint and chocolate in holiday shapes, and of course the much-maligned and equally beloved fruit cake all hit store shelves just in time to make the holiday party circuit!
Whatever your preference - savory, salty or sweet - make sure to enjoy these snacking staples throughout the year. But remember that seasonal treats come and go quickly, so be ready to grab a bag of Sweetos snacks, remember to listen for the ice cream truck's playful tune, try your state's delicacies and fill stockings with enough gingerbread cookies or mint-themed chocolate drops to last through the end of the year!