Whether it’s on I-95 or I-64, heading out of town opens up a world of new adventures, unique sights and bags and bags of road trip snacks. It’s always nice to bring a taste of home along with you, but chomping on a messy half-smoke or jumbo slice in the car will surely lose you shotgun privileges. Fortunately, there are plenty of D.C. snacks — all available at various local vendors — that are portable and deliciously addictive.
You buy the Arlington-based Snacklins’ vegan pork rinds — made with mushrooms and yuca — as a joke. “Ha ha! Vegan pork rinds!” you scoff. “These will be terrible!” Then you pop them open, start crunching, continue crunching, and realize you’ve eaten the whole bag. THEN you realize they’re only 60 or 70 calories per bag, so you pop open another. The Chesapeake Bay flavor is our favorite, with soy ginger and barbecue right behind. Buy a lot, because it’s entirely reasonable to expect you’ll have polished off a few bags before you leave the Beltway.
Together We Bake
Alexandria’s Together We Bake provides work training and job opportunities to women in need. Almost as important is the fact that the company also makes cookies, as well as apple chips, kale chips and granola. The chocolate chip cookies are a chewy treat; the cinnamon apple chips taste like real apples; and the cinnamon-pecan granola comes in big chunks perfectly suited to car snacking.
Founded in 1992, Route 11 Potato Chips is one of the area’s standbys, but oldies often make goodies. These goodies include your typical flavors — salt and vinegar, barbecue — plus some twists. The standout is the Chesapeake Crab, which only needs a waterfront seat and a pitcher of Natty Boh for the full feast experience. To combine a road trip snack with an actual road trip, set the GPS for Mount Jackson, Va., where you can visit the factory to see the frying and shop in the store, which sells tins with up to 3 pounds of chips.
Pollystyle’s honey graham crackers are a far, far cry from the comfortingly bland preschool snack. Like, so far that you can’t even hear the cry anymore. Made in D.C. from ingredients that are actually recognizable as food (things like “butter” and “wheat flour”), they have a satisfying, cinnamon-flecked crunch and a heavy hint of brown sugar. The only question remaining is how to make s’mores in your car.
If you’re the kind of person who laughs at little cookies or mocks single-stuf Oreos, you’re in luck. Whisked! cookies, out of D.C., weigh in at over 2 ounces per CD-size round. The Pretzel Cowboy cookie — stuffed with pretzels, chocolate and cranberries to form the flavor combination you didn’t know your life needed — has an oatmeal base, so therefore it must be healthy (right?). The Salty Oatmeal (clearly also healthy) is a crispy, crumbly salty-sweet one-two punch; the snickerdoodle has a chewy heft that should slow you down so you don’t pound the whole bag. Operative word being “should.”
Do not eat cake in the car. DO eat CakeLove in a Jar in the car. The last remaining product from the beloved, yet defunct, U Street cake shop, these containers of goodness carry a 3-ounce, eat-it-all-at-once serving of layered cake and frosting in flavors like red velvet, salty caramel and mocha. The cake is spongy, the flavors are balanced (the mocha has a nice hit of caramel) and no one is going to judge you if you run your fingers around the jar to get that last bit of sweetness. They do have to be kept cool, so be sure your trip is cooler-compliant.