I don’t think there are any written rules about what can and cannot go into a trail mix. I’ve seen mixes with m&m’s, chocolate chunks, and yogurt covered raisins. but the staples of a trail mix are always the same: dried fruits and nuts. recently, I came upon kirkland’s fruit and nut medley, a 3lb bag of peanuts, almonds, walnuts, apples, kiwis, mangoes, papaya, pineapples, strawberries, banana chips, cherries, and golden raisins, all for the price of $8.49USD. I’ve been hooked on dried pineapples for a couple weeks now, and prior to that, ate a fair amount of great value’s tropical trail mix (my all time favorite). my point being, I like trail mix for the diverse selection of sweet, dried items of food.
unfortunately, there are still things about trail mix that really bum me out. all the smaller items of the mix are at the bottom. I’m perfectly okay having an almond, raisin, peanut half, and apple square with my kiwi slice. and for a couple days, that’s really how it is. but once you dip down past the 50% mark, the mix becomes less diverse. you slowly realize that only 1/20 pieces is actually something you enjoy, and you’re stuck with a whole bunch of nuts that don’t taste great without some fruit. I’ve tried shaking, rotating, and staring angrily at trail mix bags to get them to mix better. but it’s not the trail mix’s fault. gravity and fruit/nut surface area within the bag depict what you’re going to grab when your hand goes into the bag.
that’s another point I want to mention. the joy of trail mix is the mix itself. you shouldn’t really be looking into the bag, choosing which pieces you want to eat. it’s rude to the trail mix, and to the people you’re sharing the trail mix with (if you are sharing it at all). if you’re eating it all yourself, you’re really making a big mistake with the pick-and-choose technique. by time you get to the 50% mark, you’ll see a bland, beige landscape of almonds that would’ve gone perfectly with all those yogurt bites you just had to take out when you first bought the bag. and don’t look with your hands: “oh, I feel a dark chocolate nugget, a banana chip, and a peanut. I’m going to drop the peanut.” okay, but know that if you drop that peanut, you’re probably going to have to eat it plain in about 2 days with a big frown upon your face.
or it’ll just sit in your cupboard for weeks with a rubber band around it. you might take it out every so often, when you’re feeling like some dried fruit, but you won’t bring it out because of the nuts. slowly, the fruit and sweet things will diminish, and the remaining mix will be rubberbanded and tossed into the corner of the cupboard, near all the other snacks that rotate in and out of the space. the remaining mix will come out to picnics, long drives that your friends preface with, “it’s a long drive and we’re going to try and make it in one shot, bring some food,” or when you have people over, they’re hungry and you haven’t shopped. people won’t finish your mix for you, though. they’ve all been in your shoes. not even half a pound of trail mix in a bag so sun-faded that it’s logo-less, with only raisins and nuts left.
it’s not going to disappear though, and you’d hate to throw it out because every time you even think about it, your subconscious tackles the idea. you may reminisce about your parents getting crazy mad at you for not finishing your food at the dinner table. slowly, you realize that you can’t toss the mix, it must be eaten. and while you’re on that really long road trip with your friends, you buy some trail mix at the gas station, eat it in the car, and come up with a brilliant idea. after taking off that crackling rubber band, you’ll just pour the remaining mix into the new mix.