General Mills’ Subscription Snack Box: the ‘New Netflix’ or More Bad-For-You Food?


The Internet has brought us many innovations, but none quite as impressive as online shopping—and shop we do. From the everything-is-just-a-click-away Amazon-style shopping to the one-of-a-kind uniqueness of Etsy. And for the foodies, there are subscription boxes galore. Love wine? There’s a subscription option. There are dozens for artisan chocolate, too. And vegan foods. And gluten-free baked goods. But what happens when General Mills gets in on the action?

General Mills, the company that fills aisles in virtually every supermarket, Target and Wal-Mart in the country with leading brands including Betty Crocker, Cheerios, Chex, Green Giant, Larabar, Häagen-Dazs and Cascadian Farms, has just launched Nibblr. It’s a monthly subscription delivery service developed by General Mills’ innovation department named 301.

Aiming to be “the Netflix” of snack subscriptions, you can order Nibblr one box at a time, for about $6, or subscribe for the entire year at $66. With more than 55 snacks varied throughout the service, subscribers can expect an assortment of dried fruits, nut mixes, crackers and more delivered to their door every single month. “Each box contains four individually packaged snacks made mostly of dried fruit and nuts, about 70 percent of which are 150 calories or less,” reports the Star Tribune. And that sounds harmless enough. Low-calorie snacks made up of mostly “dried fruit and nuts,” without the hassle of going to the market.

But Nibblr isn’t Netflix, where you choose which DVDs are delivered to you. It’s not even like a CSA box (community-supported agriculture), where you’re guaranteed to get the best local, seasonal fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. Nibblr is choosing for you, deciding what you snack on. A decision we need to be making for ourselves. Because when we leave our snacking decisions up to corporations, they are inevitably going to choose in their favor—the slightly sugar-sweetened dried cranberries, the oily, salted nuts. The occasional cookie or Chex mix.

Have these foods really earned a place in our mailbox? They already clog the supermarket shelves and tempt us away from the healthier fresh options. They already have done a good job at convincing us us that “nibbling” is as good a hobby as any.

That’s not to say the subscription food box is a bad thing. It’s most certainly not when it’s a local CSA box, or a sustainable wine of the month, or your favorite brand of dark, organic chocolate. But we’re better off if we leave “nibbling” for necks and instead make our own healthy snacks as we curl up on the couch to watch the latest DVD that came in the mail.

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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