Our Editors Confess Their Weird Drunk Snacks

What we eat when we've lost our inhibitions...and our sense of self-preservation

Two glasses of wine clinking next to a box of pizza with several hands coming in to grab slices

Dotdash Meredith / Sabrina Tan

When I turned 21 my friends kindly took me out bar-hopping, generously buying me drink after drink until I finally begged off, knowing I had to work the next morning. I weaved my way back to my apartment with my roommate and another friend who had baked me a beautiful chocolate rosewater layer cake that we intended to share. The three of us managed, in the hazy hour that followed, to polish off half the cake and a wheel of camembert (the whole thing, without crackers). In the moment it felt like adulthood and freedom. In the morning it felt like death.

I’m always interested in what people eat when they’ve let their guard down. Whether it’s a car snack scarfed after a stressful workday or a favorite treat from childhood consumed in the dark of a movie theater, our private food moments can tell us more about ourselves than any number of dishes eaten in company. 

But most of us rarely, truly set our inhibitions aside around others. This is both the good and the bad side of nights where one drink turns into a few. In these moments we’re too impaired to care about appearances or macronutrient profiles. We’re snacking by feel, by pure unfiltered desire. What we eat when we’re drunk may be the perfect encapsulation of who we really are when no one is watching. The embodiment of our inner trash pandas.

We at The Spruce Eats spend a lot of energy and time writing about the best ways to make various dishes, how to expertly balance flavors, and the keys to good cooking technique. For this piece I wanted to explore the beautifully depraved concoctions and combinations we craft when we’re operating purely on vibes, the next morning be damned. In the service of this goal, I asked other Spruce Eats editors to bravely share what they eat when the wheels have fully come off and satisfying a weird craving is the only objective.

It Was Always Going to be Pizza

It turns out that I’m not the only person with a penchant for cheesy abundance when I’ve had a few. Editorial Project Manager, Victoria Heydt, fondly remembers the days of Domino’s delivery in college and still turns to cold pizza (with hot sauce and honey) on drunken evenings. In fact, surprising no one, pizza was a theme among the editorial staff. I myself have been known to shamelessly squirt ketchup (Heinz and Heinz alone) on a cold slice. I will not be taking questions at this time.

Editorial Director of News and Features, Ariel Knutson, cited straight-up shredded cheese as her “most degenerate” drunk snack. But she fondly recounted a convivial evening that culminated in a bonfire and slices of pizza skewered on twigs and warmed over the fire, as our ancient forebears would have done had pizza been invented several hundred thousand years ago.

But Pizza is Just a Vehicle for Cheese

Kristin Stangl, Food Editor, mentioned pizza in a litany of cheesy foods including grilled cheese, mac and cheese, and “so much queso.” She also wisely reminded me that there are different levels of drunkenness and that snacking options follow suit. While grilled cheese was her top choice for tipsy—but still lucid—moments, there comes a time when turning on the stove is more of a liability than a path to satiety. For those occasions, she leans on microwaved jarred queso and Garden of Eatin’ blue corn tortilla chips (generously dipped).

The Siren Song of Other People's Snacks

For some of us, cheese is an everyday kind of snack, and drinking presents an opportunity to branch out. Associate General Manager of Spruce Eats and Simply Recipes, Emma Christensen, turns to string cheese and hard boiled eggs in the day to day, but loves to explore other options when she’s imbibing at someone else’s house. “I love to try other people’s snacks, especially people with kids. Kids really get the best snacks. Cheesy poofs, peapod-shaped crisps, chewy fruit snacks, stacks of crackers…." she mused, rhapsodically.

Drunk snacking also involves a smidge or two of opportunism for most of us, since there’s a limited amount of effort we’re willing to invest in what we ingest while drunk. For Emma, who says she's typically a “totally savory” snacker, that manifested in a chocolate fountain at a work party. Victoria recalled a desperation tuna sandwich from a Seattle Walgreens (“It was the only thing open”), but she wasn’t too far gone to assess the risk level of drugstore tuna salad. “I only ate half.”