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Everyone, the world over, enjoys savoury snacks, particularly dry, starchy ones. Far and away the most popular kind in the Anglosphere are the ones made from deep-fried (sometimes baked) thinly-sliced potato (sometimes other root vegetables), almost always salted, and very often flavoured in some way. In Britain, we call these crisps, whilst in America, they call them chips.

However, there are dry, starchy, savoury snacks that are not these. There are (taking UK examples) Twiglets, Mini Cheddars, Quavers, Skips, Cheesy Wotsits, tortilla chips, Hula Hoops, Scampi Fries, small rice cakes, pretzels, various Phileas Fogg thingies, etc. They are made of potato, maize, wheat, or frankly who knows what (wood pulp?), with plenty of salt and vegetable oil thrown in to ensure deliciousness. I wouldn't call these crisps.

So what can I call them? There is snack, but that is a much more general term, that just means a small amount of food eaten between meals. Do we have a word for these things or not?

A New Zealander friend calls all these things "chips, bro", but that doesn't seem at all right to me. However, it did set me to wondering if we had an equivalent term.

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It's just savoury snacks isn't it? I can't think of anything that I'd call a savoury snack that isn't one of those items. You could make home-cooked snacks of course but that's unusual imo. – z7sg Ѫ May 21 '11 at 11:46
I know this is not a question about AmE. "Savoury snacks" or even "savory snacks" is not a phrase we use in the US. I was about to ask what they are, but I guess that's the gist of the question, isn't it? – Kit Z. Fox May 21 '11 at 14:37
A friend reports that her French grandmother called such things magnie-magnia (pronounced something like manee-manya), but that this was probably a nonsense term she'd made up. – Tom Anderson May 21 '11 at 14:50
@Kit: It's not a term we use in the UK either. The problem is that i don't have a term to use! I think the classic US example is the Cheeto (basically the same thing as a Cheesy Wotsit, i think), which is clearly like a potato chip, but equally clearly is not a potato chip, being neither made of potato, nor chipped off anything, nor making any attempt to pretende that they are. – Tom Anderson May 21 '11 at 14:51
That's funny, I was sure the question didn't originally include the exact words "savoury snacks" but the revision history seems to say it was always there \-: – hippietrail May 22 '11 at 5:57
up vote 17 down vote accepted

"Nibbles" is what they would collectively called if at a party. I think that's the closest you'll get.

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Nibbles is pretty good. I tend to think that these things only become nibbles when poured into a bowl at a party, but that term does cover exactly this range of foods - or would you call olives nibbles? – Tom Anderson May 21 '11 at 14:33
I like nibbles. It sounds very pleasant. This is probably what we would use in the US, or maybe "nibblers". – Kit Z. Fox May 21 '11 at 14:40
This is my favourite so far but it technically goes beyond the scope of the question since it also includes things such as nuts. – hippietrail May 21 '11 at 14:45
@Tom Anderson: Nibbles certainly includes olives so far as I'm concerned. But crisps are nibbles too, so I'm a bit flummoxed by OP's question title. It apparently seeks a word that means exactly and only Nibbles, excluding crisps. A bit like asking for a word that means All pizza toppings except pepperoni. Then someone else will ask for another word meaning the same, but not including anchovies. Where will it all end? – FumbleFingers May 21 '11 at 15:55
@FumbleFingers: It will end in a nirvana of terminological precision! I would be more than happy with a term that included crisps. Including olives seems a step too far, though. – Tom Anderson May 21 '11 at 19:30

As a Brit I would still refer to Wotsits and Quavers as crisps. Anything that comes in a crisps-bag is crisps to me.

All the other things you mentioned I would call nibbles.

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Quavers, Hula-Hoops, and Skips are certainly very crisp-like. I bridle at calling them crisps, though. Crisps are crisps! And Wotsits are even more different. As for bags, isn't a Mini Cheddars bag substantially the same as a Hula Hoops bag? Can it even be legitimate to classify the contents by the nature of the bag? – Tom Anderson May 21 '11 at 15:03
@Tom - mini cheddars are an edge case, but Quavers, Hula-Hoops and Skips are called crisps by most people in the UK whether you like it or not! – Mark Heath May 21 '11 at 15:54
@Tom Anderson: I'm with you. Crisps and Hula-Hoops may meet up at various social gatherings. Sit on the same side-table, even. But they're not married, and never shall be, so they can't share a name. – FumbleFingers May 21 '11 at 22:08
Maybe we have identified one of the elusive differences between the two terms crisps and chips! I'm pretty sure I've seen British and Irish call our extruded snacks crisps here in Australia but us locals would never call them chips. – hippietrail May 22 '11 at 6:02
Quavers and Hula Hoops are both made of potato - just not slices of potato. – JBRWilkinson Nov 25 '11 at 16:45

In Dutch, we call this subset of snacks 'zoutjes' ('zout' salt + 'je' diminutive +'s' plural). So salties perhaps? :-)

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Not a word that yet exists in English, afaik, but a good one; perhaps we should borrow it! – PLL May 21 '11 at 11:40
That's a good word. Does zoutjes exclude or include crisps? – Tom Anderson May 21 '11 at 12:25
+1 for "salties" - I like it! – Simon Whitaker May 21 '11 at 21:14
I want to +1 this because I like it but since it's not an English word it should've been a comment instead of an answer. – hippietrail May 22 '11 at 6:00
@hippietrail, Nelleke is recommending salties, which is an attempt to coin an English word. Nelleke, you might want to bold the word – Unreason Nov 25 '11 at 11:21

In Australia where we moved from crisps to chips several decades ago there is no special set term for crunchy snacks generally but there is the fairly common phrase "savoury snack". (You may also choose to omit the "u" if you prefer).


While Googling further on this answer I came across what I take to be an unappetizing industry term, "extruded snack", which covers many of these kinds of snacks except chips. For instance in Australia this would cover the popular Twisties™, Cheezels™, and Burger Rings™.

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Extruded snack doesn’t cover quite all the snacks in question, if I understand it correctly: it wouldn’t for instance include pretzels, rice cakes, or Twiglets™. – PLL May 21 '11 at 11:39
Indeed it doesn't even cover chips/crisps but I thought the OP or some casual browsers might find it interesting or helpful nonetheless. But now I have to find out what a Twiglet is (-: – hippietrail May 21 '11 at 11:46
Extruded snack is a good term - precise, already in use, and mildly repellent, which is an ideal fit for this kind of industrial foodstuff. – Tom Anderson May 21 '11 at 14:35
+1 for extruded snack and Burger Rings, which actually caused me to throw up a little in my mouth. Seriously, what is a Burger Ring? That sounds disgusting, like pork rinds. – Kit Z. Fox May 21 '11 at 14:39
My New Zealander friend reports that Burger Rings are one of the best kinds of chips. Also, "disgusting, like pork rinds" is a confusing construction, since pork scratchings (which i think is what we call pork rinds) are delicious (but, for clarity, are not extruded snacks). – Tom Anderson May 21 '11 at 19:33

It isn't catchy and doesn't apply globally (e.g. Pringles are a bit of an edge case here being potato based but not 'chipped off' a potato.), but corn[-based] snack seems to be the description favoured by manufacturers and food labellers. C.f. Monster Munch, Wotsits, Onion rings/Ringos, Frazzles, Space Raiders etc. which are popular non-potato-based snacks in the UK.

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Probably the most accurate description would be "salty" or "crispy" snacks. I think most listeners would understand what you meant by that.

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This one may not be particularly common. But it really grinds my gears when I do hear it, so I probably overestimate the actual frequency of occurrence...



EDIT: I see someone's seen fit to downvote this one. It doesn't make sense to suppose that's because they don't like the term (after all, I don't either, but I still posted it). So I'll assume at least someone doesn't believe it's used at all. It's a spoken rather than written form, obviously, but here's a published instance from the weekly American marketing trade journal Brandweek (now Adweek), and here are 1500 instances from Google on the Internet at large.

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