Snickers salad, a blend of Snickers bars, Granny Smith apples, whipped cream and vanilla pudding, is a very popular dish in the Midwestern states like Iowa and Minnesota in the USA. In spite of the ingredients that go in the Snickers salad, it is mostly treated as a dessert salad.
As the name suggests, a dessert salad is a type of salad, which is sweet and often has pudding or cream as its base. It is usually a mixture of fruits (or sometimes cookies), jello, and whipped cream. In its entirety, this dish would easily qualify as a dessert or snack but in places like Iowa and Minnesota, it is often served along with other savory items like hotdish, green beans or some kind of meat.
Beside the Snickers salad, some of the popular dessert salads from the Midwest include:
– Glorified rice: made of white rice, whipped cream, canned pineapple and cherries.
– Watergate salad: also known as the Green Stuff is made with pistachio pudding, Cool Whip and marshmallows.
– Cookie salad: made of fudge stripe cookies and vanilla pudding.
– Frogeye salad: made with canned fruits, egg custard and whipped topping.
– Ambrosia salad: made with whipped cream, marshmallows, shredded coconut and canned fruits.
– Jello salad: made with jello, various canned fruits and marshmallows.
The concept of dessert salad was very popular during the 50s and 60s. The American food trend in those two decades saw a huge rise for convenient and instant foods. Time saving pre-packaged stuff like canned meat, canned fruits, and vegetables rose to popularity and heavily influenced the American cuisine in that time period.
More and more gelatin based dishes and salads started emerging. Cool whip or whipped topping and Jello are a classical example of how essential these pre-made ingredients were to the Americans.
Serving dessert salad is more pronounced in the Midwest than in the rest of the United States. This is largely due to the fact that communal meals are a huge part of the American Midwest culture. In the Midwest, potluck events and church gatherings, picnics and barbecues are quite common. When you serve hearty family style meals, quick to make recipes like the Snickers salad take precedence over the traditional ones.
Even though the craze for such salads has died down, many still consider these retro special dishes as a nostalgic comfort food. The Europeans might have introduced salad to the Americans during the colonial period but this dessert salad is purely an American invention.
What is the origin of the Snickers salad?
The origin of the Snickers salad is not quite clear. It can be said that it is an American interpretation of the Norwegian dish rommergrot, which is a pudding made of cream and flour. Since the Midwest regions had a huge number of Swedish and Norwegian settlements, rommergrot could have been modified to create something similar with the locally available ingredients.
The original Snickers salad is a mix of Snickers bars, Granny Smith apples, jello pudding and cool whip. It is also known as Snickers apple salad. Other variations of the Snickers salad include using a flavored pudding, adding fruits like strawberries, bananas and grapes, caramel syrup on top, cream cheese and marshmallows.
How to serve the Snickers salad
The Snickers salad is usually served during large gatherings like a church event, potluck, picnics or barbecues and it is unusual to find it in a restaurant.
There is an ongoing debate if this recipe falls under the category of desserts or salads. It is often stated on a lighter note that Midwesterners can turn anything into a salad. But the locals decide based on which side of the table the bowl is placed. If the hostess places it close to other main courses then it is a main course, otherwise it is eaten as a dessert.
Salad or not, the Snickers salad is a staple Iowan potluck dish. It is a delicious treat that is so light and creamy with a crunchy bite.
- 6 small Granny Smith apples cored and diced
- 6 Snickers bars chopped
- 1 sweet vanilla pudding mix
- 3 oz Jello
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1½ cup Cool Whip or whipping cream reserved 1 hour in the freezer
- Small marshmallows
- ½ cup ready-to-use liquid caramel
Proceed with the preparation of the pudding according to package instructions, with the ½ cup (125 ml) of whole milk.
- Remove the whipping cream from the freezer and whip it (or use ready to use Cool Whip).
- Gently mix the cream and pudding.
- Stir in the apples, chopped Snickers and marshmallows.
- Divide the mixture into 8 servings and drizzle liquid caramel on top.
- Refrigerate an hour before serving.