The Best and Worst Vending-Machine Snacks

Here's a cheat sheet for those desperate evenings when you find yourself staring at the office vending machine, trying to decide if popcorn is healthier than granola.

Photograph by Chia by Adam Voorhes

You're at the office and you're hungry. It's also late, you're tired, and there's just no way you're going to walk outside the building and buy some truly healthy food—like a salad or an apple. So you stare at the office vending machine for a few minutes trying to decide if popcorn is healthier than granola. Here's a cheat sheet for those desperate evenings.

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Fiber One bar, Oats & Chocolate (1.4 oz)

The Good: Nine grams of fiber, calcium-rich, and it's chocolate.

The Bad: High in carbs and sugar.

The Bottom Line: The extra fiber will keep you full.

Planters peanuts (2 oz)

The Good: Decent source of protein, iron, and fiber; these might be the most filling option in the machine.

The Bad: Lots of sodium and 45 percent of your daily fat allowance (though it's mostly the healthy kind).

The Bottom Line: They'll sate your appetite without putting you in a carb coma.

Nature Valley granola bar, Oats 'n Honey (1.5 oz)

The Good: You get two (pretty tasty) whole-grain bars for fewer than 200 calories.

The Bad: Twelve grams of sugar is hefty for a little snack.

The Bottom Line: It's no apple, but it's relatively guilt-free.

• • •


Doritos, Nacho Cheese (1.75 oz)

The Good: Provides six percent of your recommended daily allowance of bone-building phosphorus.

The Bad: The triangles contain heart-clogging saturated fat, a boatload of sodium, and artificial colors, which stain your fingers (and memos).

The Bottom Line: Skip.

Herr's Original Popcorn (1 oz)

The Good: Low in sugar and contains two grams of protein.

The Bad: The "partially hydrogenated oil" listed on the back of the bag is a fancy term for trans fats.

The Bottom Line: Skip.

Twizzlers (1.5 oz)

The Good: Nutritionally bankrupt, but if you bite off the ends, they work as fun, fruity straws.

The Bad: Eighteen grams of sugar, courtesy of corn syrup.

The Bottom Line: Skip, unless you're splitting the pack with a friend (or seven).

• • •


Welch's Fruit Snacks (0.9 oz)

The Good: Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, plus no fat and just 80 calories.

The Bad: Don't fall for the fruit line: This is healthier candy in disguise.

The Bottom Line: As far as treats go, this one is a pretty safe bet.

Popchips (0.8 oz)

The Good: A healthy dose of potassium (thanks to real potato), no trans fats, and only 100 calories.

The Bad: They're high in sodium.

The Bottom Line: Why not?

Pirate's Booty (1 oz)

The Good: Low in sugar, with a shorter list of natural ingredients like cornmeal, rice, and Cheddar cheese.

The Bad: High in fat, low in protein, and zero fiber (you'll be hungry again in an hour).

The Bottom Line: Better than chips, but not by much.

Fig Newtons (2 oz)

The Good: The fiber content means you'll stay satisfied.

The Bad: They're still cookies, and they contain sulphur dioxide, a gas created by burning coal or oil.

The Bottom Line: If you're desperate. They're better than other cookies, and they contain real fig.

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—Caroline Schaefer

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