Trail Mix – What’s in a Name?

So trail mix is pretty popular amongst outdoor enthusiasts, right? It’s nutritious, versatile and convenient. The snack has been around for over 50 years but where did it really get its name? Through a little research – or rather field work – we may have found the answer.

Andy and I were headed to Dartmoor National Park in Devon, England. We had a long weekend and packed our packs with everything we needed for 3 days of unsupported hiking and wild camping: a lightweight tent, sleeping bags, a stove, clothes and our usual excessive amount of camera gear. Our food consisted of oatmeal for breakfast, ready to eat lunches and simple one pot meals for dinner (and a can of beans at Verena’s insistence – Andy). We also had plenty of snacks, a bit of fruit, beef jerky and trail mix.

The Ziploc bags, in which the trail mix was packed, were poorly constructed and opening along the seams. For the most part, as long as you held onto them carefully, you were able to preserve the structural integrity of the bags. On the last day, with the last bit of trail mix, my technique faltered and the remainder of our delicious snack fell onto the ground. Being on our third day of walking and not having packed extra, Andy and I immediately began to salvage what we could of our scattered peanuts, raisins and m&m’s. Luckily, aside from the various animals – sheep, cows and horses – we met almost no one that weekend. We must have been quite the sight bent over, not even stopping to remove our packs, eating our mixed peanuts, raisins and m&m’s off the sheep trail… And that my friends, is how we believe trail mix got its name.

Tip: When eating trail mix as originally intended, be sure that the brown m&m’s have a white ‘m’ printed on them. They look remarkably like sheep poo…


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