by Will Sutton
I grew up eating GORP, more commonly known as trail mix, on family camping trips and hikes in the White Mountains. Generally, we ate the “good ol’ raisins and peanuts” that give the snack its acronymized name, but my brothers and I occasionally got inventive by mixing in goldfish crackers, peanut butter cups, or, in our most questionable innovation, gummy worms.
But that’s the beauty of GORP: the freedom of it. Gummy worms are just as acceptable-- though certainly less palatable-- as additions like banana chips or M&M’s. At its best, making GORP is an art form, forcing the architect of the snack (the GORP-itecht?) to balance nutrition, taste, texture, packability, and, for the truly cultured, aesthetics. It’s a delicious puzzle, a creative challenge that you get to eat at the end. What’s not to love?
In this article, I offer some hard-learned wisdom that I hope can help up your GORP game. I intentionally did not disclose any specific recipes, as that would, in my view, ruin all the artistic genius involved in snack creation. I encourage readers to try these out, and to continually strive for the perfect mix. We can all be GORP-itechts.
GORP Tip #1: Meltdown Control
An oft-cited issue with GORP is the way chocolate can melt on a hot trail day. Some love the resultant gobs of melted chocolate, nuts, and raisins; others, like myself, find them messy and difficult to eat. M&M’s are often pitched as a melt-proof chocolate, but I am dubious of such claims. Besides their tendency to explode into chocolatey messes, melted M&M’s can stain your GORP with their artificially colored shells.
If you still want that chocolatey flavor without the chocolatey mess, try mixing in Teddy Grahams, mini oreos, or mini chocolate chip cookies. These are virtually melt-proof solutions, and they can add a new texture and aesthetic to your GORP.
GORP Tip #2: Chip Hubris
Enthusiastic GORP-itechts, eager to innovate both texture and flavor, may be tempted to introduce chips to the mix. This is, unfortunately, a rookie mistake. Chips are quick to crumble in the rough-and-tumble world of a hiking pack, leaving oily residue and plenty of salt, but not much flavor or texture.
To mitigate this, you can seek out sturdier varieties of potato chips (Cape Cod Potato Chips, in my experience, are the strongest), but there’s no protecting them from crumbling. In place of corn chips, toasted corn is a crumble-proof substitute that achieves a similar taste. But these are imperfect substitutes; adopt them at your own risk.
GORP Tip #3: The Tragedy of Yogurt Pretzels
Yogurt pretzels are elite additions to GORP. They knock it out of the park in the flavor department, and they are interesting in texture and aesthetic-- an all-around win. The tragedy of yogurt pretzels is their fragility. They are prone to melting, and in my experience do not hold up well to moisture. To include yogurt pretzels is a high-risk, high-reward choice for the GORP-itecht. As with all items on this list, I encourage you to experiment, learn, and grow as a snack creator.
This article may have read as overdramatic, but my passion for GORP is genuine. I hope readers are inspired to experiment, if just a little bit, with trail mixes. Adding creativity makes snacking more fun, but it also makes snacks feel more personal, and allows you to take ownership of what you’re eating. So take a trip to a whole-food store to stock up on ingredients, or use our selection of nuts, seeds, and granola as a starting point-- and happy GORP-ing!