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How to make a snackle box, the charcuterie board’s portable cousin

(Dimitria Hare-Michael/Washington Post illustration)

Dimitria Hare-Michael has been going on her family’s fall fishing trip at Ross Lake in northern Washington state every year since she was a little girl. Last fall, she decided, she was going to get creative with her packing.

Hare-Michael, 31, has made charcuterie boards with meats, cheeses and berries for nearly four years as part of her side business, Grate Boards.

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“I was trying to think, ‘How can I switch this up? … What kind of fishing-themed thing can I do?’” she said in a phone interview from her home near Lake Washington.

Then it came to her: Put the snacks in a tackle box.

She bought a new three-tiered tackle box and filled it with crackers, cheeses, olives and grapes, plus mini bottles of booze to help keep people warm.

The box was compact enough to carry onto the boat yet spacious enough to hold a variety of snacks for family members to munch on, she said. They even had leftovers for a few days. And when it rained while they were on the water, they simply closed the box to save the snacks. Hare-Michael’s family was hooked.

Her brother-in-law wanted her to come up with a name for the concept, and he suggested “snackle box.” When she looked up the term online and found pictures of snackle box feasts similar to her own, she learned they weren’t alone in their discovery.

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Snackle boxes carry a variety of snacks in compartments in the same way a tackle box holds a fisher’s tools, lures and line. The ingredients to make a box have been at people’s disposal for quite some time. Bento boxes have sectioned off Japanese lunches and snacks for centuries, and the first commercial kids’ lunchboxes appeared in the early 20th century, according to Smithsonian Magazine. But now, snackers who seek a supersized way to put together and describe the catchall container no longer need to search. Snackle boxes picked up steam on social media last year and have made a splash this summer as people make their own.

Vanessa Calkins didn’t expect her snack tray to make waves on her Facebook crafts page, Owl B Crafty.

Calkins’s close circle knows how much she loves making charcuterie boards. So when Calkins, 38, saw snackle boxes on Pinterest, she decided they were the perfect way to bring her charcuterie boards from Keene, N.H., to Wells Beach in Maine for an end-of-the-school-year day at the shore. She packed four snackle boxes for the parents on the trip and eight mini ones for the kids, much to the group’s surprise and delight.

“They were like, ‘Vanessa, what did you do? These are awesome,’” she said.

Pictures of the snackle boxes fascinated many of Calkins’s 52,000 Facebook followers. “That looks delish! I like your way of thinking,” one user commented. “Where did you buy the tackle box?” wrote another.

Calkins then made a Facebook Live video demonstrating how she put together her tray, which included mini Reese’s cups and gummy bears. Although Calkins’s page is dedicated to craft projects, she said she would make a snackle box on Facebook Live again if the opportunity arose.

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For people like Sarah Brooks, that chance comes around often. She said the snackle box has been a saving grace for families with children.

Brooks, 43, who runs the blogs Keep Calm and Eat Ice Cream and the Aussie Home Cook in Melbourne, loves how she can keep her family of four full until dinner when she packs a snackle box.

“You can’t leave the house without snacks because guarantee the kids will be hungry within 30 minutes,” Brooks said. “You either have food with you, or you have to spend lots of time and money going and finding them food.”

She didn’t want to face the latter, so she found hardware boxes from a local store and packed them for picnics and playground trips. She has also made mini snackle boxes that can fit into coolers.

One of the best things about snackle boxes, Brooks said, is their ability to separate snacks and their spillage.

“Charcuterie boards are great, but they tend to be everything mixed in together. Not everybody wants that,” she said. Snackle boxes are “a good way of keeping those foods in their own little containers doing their thing.”

Brooks said they’re ideal for game day parties, camping and, of course, fishing.

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When Ginny Wilson, co-owner of the Tullahoma, Tenn., chocolate shop Water’s Edge Chocolates, brainstormed recently with team members about what to sell for Father’s Day, they shared sweet memories of fishing with their own fathers and grandfathers. So they decided to build a Father’s Day snackle box, which featured sweet and salty snacks to honor dads: Swedish fish, goldfish, gummy worms, cashews and almonds, as well as chocolate-covered peanut butter crackers, a favorite of one employee’s grandpa.

The box was such a success, Wilson said, Water’s Edge will probably start carrying snackle boxes year-round.

“It’s just a fun gift that you don’t normally see,” she said.

How to make a snackle box

Start with a container with dividers. You don’t need a real tackle box, but make sure what you use is clean and preferably made with food-grade materials.

Add proteins. Fold in meats such as sliced salami, pepperoni or prosciutto, or fill spaces with such nuts as almonds, cashews, peanuts or pistachios.

Include cheeses. Cracker-cut cheeses are best, especially when paired with chips or crackers. Try colby Jack, cheddar or small chunks of feta.

Supplement with fruits and vegetables. Look for seasonal produce. Summertime calls for raspberries, strawberries, cherries and grapes, while carrots and celery go well with winter.

Finish with sweet treats. Don’t forget dessert: Gummy bears and chocolate are stellar, but be mindful of the weather so your snacks don’t melt.

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