A seasonal calendar of American snack food

Pretzel time.
Pretzel time.
Image: AP Photo/Vincent Thian
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Though you probably didn’t realize it at the time, if you’ve ever eaten a soft, buttery pretzel at the movie theater, snacked on a churro, or slurped down a frozen slushie, then J&J Snack Foods Corp. has found its way across your palate, at least in the US.  The New Jersey-based company produces snacks, baked goods, and frozen drinks for restaurants and retail, including Icees, Slush Puppies, Auntie Anne’s pretezels, Super Pretzel, and of course, Tio Pepe’s, the churros Disneyland made famous.

You can find J&J on grocery shelves, but it’s the company’s food service business that you’re most likely to have sampled. Sports stadiums, mall kiosks, convenience stores, fast-casual restaurants, concession stands, airports—they’re all big purchasers of J&J’s snackable inventory. While it might seem like these foods exist a bit outside of time, not exactly being farm-to-table fare, they do have seasonal peaks. Here’s what you’re snacking on, and when, America, according to the J&J’s quarterly sales figures to food service customers. (The company just released its latest report Jan. 28.)

I love churros in the springtime

J&J sells frozen churros in the grocery store, including Oreos-flavored churros, but the main outlet is to food-services companies, and particularly to Disneyland, where they come in flavors including s’mores and even pumpkin spice. Food-service sales peak each year during the April-through-June quarter.

Summer is for slushies

As anyone who has ever walked into a convenience store for a bottle of water and a bag chips on a hot July afternoon, and walked out sucking bright blue icy slush through a straw knows, summer is slushy season.

Never not eating pretzels

Soft pretzel sales are robust year round, and on an upward trajectory right now, but there’s definitely a bump July through September, which coincidentally is prime baseball park season.