Home cooks once prepared their own Chex Mix snack blends in the kitchen, but General Mills now offers an array of prepared Chex Mix varieties as well. The original party mix consisted of a blend of Chex cereals, pretzels, mixed nuts, butter, Worcestershire sauce and seasonings; variations on the theme could include anything from chocolate chips to tortilla chips. Variety party mixes and snacks make viable alternatives to Chex Mix.
Trail mix gets its name from how well it travels. Hikers, bikers and campers could pack along a ration of this blend of nuts, grains and dried fruit to eat while on the move. As a party snack, trail mix is easy to eat without making a mess or requiring a plate. Both commercial and home-blended trail mixes typically contain a base of nuts and fruit; additional ingredients might include candy-coated chocolate pieces, bite-sized crackers, dried peas or pumpkin seeds. Speciality trail mixes incorporate low-fat, low-calorie or gluten-free ingredients to accommodate people with specific dietary needs.
Chex is only one commercially-prepared cereal that can form the basis of a party mix. Any unsweetened oat, corn, wheat or bran cereal works in savoury snack mixes; sweetened cereals suit sweeter snack blends or sweet and savoury combinations. Flaked cereals don't lend themselves to easy snacking, but any cereal that comes in O-shaped pieces or shredded squares can become the foundation of a homemade snack blend. Experiment with cereal mixtures and spice blends to create a personalised party mix.
As its name suggests, granola contains grains, typically oats or rice. Honey, nuts and dried fruit add sweetness and flavour to the grain base. Granola resembles trail mix, but its grainy base differentiates it from the predominantly nutty and fruity trail mix. The toasted-grain snack has its roots in the health-food movement of the early 20th century, then grew in popularity throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. Modern commercial granola blends focus more on taste than on health benefits, but its formula is highly customisable for snackers who want to emphasise certain nutrients.
Chex Mix blends contain nuts, but nut aficionados may choose to enjoy nothing but their favourite part of the party mix: the nuts themselves. Mixed nuts incorporate two or more nut varieties in the same blend. Commercial mixed nut blends include salted, roasted, honey-roasted, flavoured and spiced nuts to suit any taste. Chocolate-coated "bridge mix" varieties provide a sweeter take on mixed nuts. Nuts provide so much protein that the U.S. Department of Agriculture classifies them with meats, eggs and fish as a source of protein in the food group pyramid. As they are low in carbohydrates, mixed nuts make a viable snack alternative for people on reduced-carbohydrate dietary plans.
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