Back to School Snacks

Back to School Snacks

By Meline Beach

As we recover from a global pandemic, many students (and parents) are looking forward to returning to in-class learning. Back to school time means packing a lunch with a couple of snacks, running to catch the bus, arriving before the bell, and participating in sports and extracurricular activities. Students need food and beverage to stay fueled and focused throughout the day and evening.

Local c-stores have students and parents covered with a variety of snacks to stay satisfied. From sweet fun and protein packed to nutritious and delicious – there’s a school snack for everyone at your local c-store. Convenience & Carwash Canada spoke with different manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers to learn of the variety of fun and nutritious treats available to parents and students alike.

Sweet Fun

Dandies Marshmallows serves as a perfect better-for-you, allergy-safe sweet treat alternative to its traditional counterpart. This 100 per cent vegan, vegetarian-friendly, plant-based, kosher, and non-GMO project verified product is made with high-quality, clean ingredients, including real vanilla and vegan cane sugar. Manufactured by Chicago Vegan Foods, the company prides itself on using no artificial flavours or colourings, corn syrup, gelatin, or gluten. They’re also free of common allergens, such as wheat, dairy, eggs, corn, peanuts, and tree nuts – which makes it a great snack for school. Sold in regular (campfire style) and mini sizes, Dandies Marshmallows are available in 283-gram packages for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $5.99 with a retail profit margin of approximately 45 per cent. The regular size is available in vanilla, while the mini size is available in vanilla and seasonal pumpkin and peppermint flavours.

According to Dan Reed, director of marketing with Chicago Vegan Foods, vanilla is the most popular marshmallow flavour and depending on product size, a portion can be two large marshmallows or 18 mini marshmallows per serving.
Currently sold at conventional and natural grocers across Canada, C&G retailers interested in carrying Dandies Marshmallows can contact Chicago Vegan Foods Directly at 630-629-9667, or from any of the following distributors in Canada: Jon Luca, Horizon, ONFC, Directa, and Coop Alentour.
Located within proximity to a school gives Yours Conveniently an advantage in reaching students. Based in Aurora, Ontario, this specialty shop is owned and operated by Toni Holley and her husband Jeff.

Holley mentions the lovely aroma of inhouse baking helps drive sales.

Protein packed

Produced with 100 per cent Canadian beef, Big Chief meat snacks are free of peanuts, tree nut and wheat. They don’t require refrigeration, which makes them a great school snack for any age. Tossed in a backpack as an on-the-go snack and packed with protein, beef jerky gives students a boost in brain power according to health and wellness reports.

“Our signature original flavour beef jerky has been around for 50 years and is still a favourite among the student population,” says Michelle McGillivray, business development director at Big Chief Meat Snacks Inc.

“Our 12-gram and 30-gram pack sizes are the perfect serving for a grab-and-go snack.”
McGillivray adds, “Instead of reaching for that high sugar chocolate bar or bag of chips that leaves students feeling sluggish, our beef snacks offer an excellent source of protein that students deserve to get them through their day.”

In addition to leveraging social media and digital marketing tools during back-to-school time, Big Chief also sponsors various programs that include student sports teams, and offers its mascot, Bert the Bull, as an option to attend events and hand out samples.

Also packed with protein, at six to eight grams per unit, are HoneyBars, made with various combinations of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, rolled oats and more, all held together with only honey. With a shelf life of 12 months, these bars made a great snack for students. They’re also free of gluten, dairy and other additives and preservatives. Packed individually for convenience in a 15-pack of 40-gram bars at an SRP of $1.79 each, HoneyBars is an affordable, portable protein-rich and nutrient-dense snack for students.

While they’re not currently sold in the C&G channel across Canada, HoneyBar Sales and Marketing Manager Miriam Farber would like to change that. In the meantime, interested C&G retailers are encouraged to visit for more information.

“The GFB Bites and Bars are ridiculously tasty and protein packed – making them an ideal option for any part of the school day – whether a breakfast on the run, snack or to fuel after school activities or sports. Prices range from $3 for bars to $7 for a multi serving four-oz pouch of Bites and are available in favourite flavours, ranging from Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter, Coconut Cashew, Dark Chocolate Almond, Peanut Butter, and Dark Chocolate Coconut and Cranberry Almond.”


“At Big Dog Convenience, we love back to school time.

It is a great boost to sales to our rural convenience stores. Because we are in areas that have lower numbers of traditional fast-food locations, we try to fulfill the needs of our hungry busy students. We operate the Home Place Kitchen brand of homestyle foods to look after our c-stores and a few others as well. Products are made fresh three times weekly and sent out to locations. In addition to freshly prepared sandwiches and wraps, we also bake and wrap muffins and banana bread slices, as well as a selection of cookies in two packs – which serve as excellent lunch bag stuffers.” 

RAMONA ROBERTS, Big Dog Convenience, Roberts Group of Companies

Nutritious and delicious

Amplify Brands offers students a nutritious and delicious snack with its SkinnyPop popcorn. Founded in 2010, this snack is packed with fibre, vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants. Made from non-genetically modified ingredients, SkinnyPop doesn’t contain trans fats, gluten, or other allergens, such as soy, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, and eggs. With only 39 calories per one cup serving, SkinnyPop is a tasty, guilt-free snack made with the fewest, cleanest, and simplest ingredients possible: just popcorn kernels, sunflower oil, and salt.

“Younger people are waking up to the idea that what they put in their body matters and they need convenience for their busy lifestyle,” says Dan Fredericks, customer sales executive, Amplify & BFY Snack Brands. “We offer snacks to fuel their passion while staying true to their values of all-natural simple ingredients, non-GMO, and quick and convenient snacks that don’t compromise on flavour.”

Available at 7-11 and Petro Canada locations across Canada, SkinnyPop is sold as a multi-pack with six 18-gram bags and an SRP of $6.00 per box.
ESSTAR represents some of America’s healthiest snacks, based on a criterion of 10 or less ingredients, using natural ingredients that are low in sugar and fat, that taste good, have health benefits, and come from a transparent supply chain. While their snacks are not currently sold in Canada, ESSTAR Founder and CEO Krista Anderson has plans to expand.

“We currently sell our snacks in c-stores, universities and hospitals across the US,” says Anderson, who has a personal vested interest in healthy snacks from her experience with cancer. Through her journey, she learned the importance of life-giving foods and the challenge it was to conveniently find them.
As stated on ESSTAR’s website, Anderson found herself circling gas stations and convenience stores, searching for healthy options while on the go. But even with the increase in interest for healthy lifestyle choices, people had to go out of their way to find a health food store.

In 2014, Anderson launched ESSTAR, with a commitment to make healthy, life-giving foods accessible on every corner through convenience stores.
“I believe that nutritious snacking can help curb children’s hunger throughout the day and that regular healthy snacks boost energy and help sneak in more of the nutrients essential for a child’s growth and development,” says Anderson.

For more information on ESSTAR brands, visit
With a similar commitment to selling healthy and wholesome foods, Molly’s Market in King City, Ontario is nutritionist-designed and focused on better-for-you pantry staples, clean home essentials, gifts and more. The specialty shop is new to the convenience scene and opened its doors in June 2021. Based on her own personal experience with food sensitivities, owner and operator Molly Robins leverages her nutrition background to bake wholesome snacks in the store’s kitchen, such as energy balls, muffins and brownies using locally sourced and organic ingredients. She also sells Dandies Marshmallows. Located close to schools, Molly’s Market attracts students who are interested in healthy snacks at a competitive price.
Her advice to c-store retailers interested in offering a healthy foodservice program: “Make sure your products are amazing and that you continually test them to ensure they’re universally liked.”

Meline Beach is a Toronto-based communications practitioner and frequent contributor to Convenience & Carwash Canada. In addition to freelance writing, Meline provides communications and public relations support to businesses across Canada. She can be reached at

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