Steve Woods

Trail Mix : A Short History

In What Day is it? on August 31, 2009 at 9:30 am
A simple trail mix variety

A simple trail mix variety

Next time you are standing in the grocery isle, contemplating a healthier snack option, take a moment to ponder upon the timeless trail mix.  I say timeless, because trail mix is thousands of years old. Ancient nomadic tribes used to mix up dried berries, fruits, nuts and meats together. Trail mix was (and is) high in energy, needs no specialized storage, and does not require cooking prior to consumption.

Later, explorers continued the use of trail mixes, for the very same reasons, taking the high-energy food with them on their travails over many a trail, mountain or ocean. Native Americans had a special spin on trail mix, which they shared with those explorers they had good relations with. Their mix was called pemmican, and consisted of dried buffalo, moose or caribou, mixed with animal fat and berries, and lasted for months. Pieces were often broken off and used to make a stew, called rubbaboo, by adding flour, water, and maple sugar.

Despite this long, storied history, two separate companies, Harmony Foods and Hadley Fruit Orchards of California, state that the name “trail mix” was invented in 1968 by surfers who mixed together peanuts and raisins to keep their energy levels up during more “gnarly surf” periods. They hold to this statement despite a 1958 novel by Jack Kerouac mentioning trail mix by name.

Trail mix is also known in America as GORP (Good Old Raisons and Peanuts, or Granola Oats, Raisins and Peanuts.) Down under, trail mix is known as scroggin, and in Germany as Studentenfutter (“student’s food”.) Today’s trail mix often includes fruit, grain cereals, nuts, flavorings, chocolate or carob, coconut, pretzels, and sometimes crystallized ginger.

Want to make your own special trail mix? Here are over 80 recipes, at,1-0,trail_mix,FF.html


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