Gas Station Saviors

The beauty of “oh snap” snacks.

Words by Monique Seitz-Davis

Let’s be honest. We’ve all done it: forgotten the camp food at home and had to make do with whatever the gas station has to offer. And nine times out of 10, your options are pretty bleak and often beige in color. But before you write off your Savory Liberators, ask yourself this one question: Where would you be without that sack of potato bread, questionable hot dogs, Chef Boyardee, Gardetto’s, peanut butter, and Fluff? You’d be up a creek without a paddle and hungrier than imaginable—that’s what you’d be. So, we wrote a short article in honor of our go-to gas station snacks.

Pre-Cooked Participants

Between the yet-to-be-creamy, dehydrated cheese and fast-to-cook noodles, mac and cheese makes its case as an “oh snap” staple. But on the reals, who doesn’t love instant mac and cheese? Oh, folks who are allergic to gluten and dairy? Fair enough—I get it, indigestion and allergic reactions are not fun. Especially while camping.

My man, Chef Boyardee! To be honest, I’m more of a SpaghettiOs kind of girl, but it’s pretty much the same thing. Minus the meat. Also, for the record, both items in question definitely taste like someone soaked a bunch of dry noodles in Campbell’s Tomato Soup. If you disagree, let me know. Moving on…

Chunky Stew: the true last resort. Nothing says “I need protein-based foodies, a filling meal that’s easy to open and even easier to heat up, and oh, I totally forgot my food at home” like a can of Chunky Beef Stew courtesy of Maverick, 7-Eleven, or Cumberland Farms. Flecks of peas offer a textural juxtaposition to the creamy (ish), slow-cooked (ish) hunks of meat, while the stewed carrots round out the slightly acidic flavor of canned foodies.

Beans, beans, the magical fruit… If you’re so lucky to find yourself some baked beans, it’s safe to assume that you’re lucky enough to be occupying a one-person tent. Best paired with hot dogs and a PBR.


The Catchall

Hot sauce, otherwise known as The Omnipotent. Transforms all gnarly or questionable food into slightly-less-questionable and passable-as-tasty. Overzealous appliers beware.

The Boy Band of Condiments

Mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup are the best trio since Hanson came out of the woodwork in 1992. ‘Nuff said, mic drop.

Or, if you’re not much of a Hanson fan, how about these apples: peanut butter, Fluff, and jelly (or Nutella) are the best trio-based work of art since Nirvana came out with In Utero in 1993.

Beige Brutes

Bread, the ever necessary evil. It’s easy to slap some Boar’s Head meat snacks between two slices and call it a day. Mayonnaise might dress things up a little, but so would sliced pickles and some mustard. But now now, one mustn’t get too ambitious: bread must be complemented, not adorned as its ego can be rather… large. Or small and compressed if it’s packed beneath a heavy object.

Ah, ramen. An offensively delicious compatriot in the city (thank you, butter), and a woefully underwhelming delight while camping. And while it might transform from stone-colored-khaki to brilliant hues of nuclear yellow, orange, and well, more yellow, it still falls under the beige category. May the sodium forever be in your favor.

Crunchy Compatriots

How many of yous-guys go to mow town on the rye chips in Gardetto’s Snack Mix? All of you? Great. We can be friends now. In truth, a bag of Gardetto’s is a meal all on its own. Add a little bit of sauce from your Chef Boyardee ravioli snacks and you’ve got yourself Walking Taco: Olive Garden Edition.

Speaking of Walking Tacos—Fritos, Doritos, and corn chips on the whole are invaluable additions. They’re filling, salty, and just plain-old satisfying. Also, have you ever looked at the ingredients list on a bag of Fritos? Well, if you haven’t, you’ll probably be surprised to find that Fritos tout the bare minimum of food-based constituents, which is a spectacular luxury when it comes to fast food snacks. And, according to Bear Grylls, Fritos also double as a fire starter (though, take this with a grain of salt; the guy did drink his own urine). If you feel so inclined, please attempt to light a fire with Fritos as your starter and let us know how the whole situation goes.

Meat Tubes

We figured we’d end on a snack that most omnivores love to consume: hot dogs, sausages, and bratwurst. Aside from the fact that they are an animal byproduct, what’s not to love about dilapidated meat tubes? Yeah, there’s a fair chance that the package you’re buying has been sitting on the shelf for far too long, but you’re also about to sleep in a tent with no direct access to a sewage system, running water, or the ability to wash your hands, so beggars can’t be choosers, eh? Not to mention, there’s nothing a little bit of fire can’t fix. After all, fancy city people call it “flame broiled” and “subtly charred.”

So, tell us your tales of Gas Station Saviors and the impossibly delightful and/or scientifically engineered combos you’ve encountered!