A snack food is seen in Western culture as a type of food that is not meant to be eaten as part of one of the main meals of the day (breakfast, lunch, supper). Rather, the food is intended as a snack: something to temporarily tide a person's hunger and provide a brief supply of energy for the body.
Snack foods are designed to be less perishable, more durable, and more appealing than natural foods. They often contain substantial amounts of sweeteners, preservatives, and appealing ingredients such as chocolate, peanuts, and specially designed flavors (such as flavored potato chips).
Foods manufactured primarily as snack foods are often classified as junk food: they have little or no nutritional value, and are not seen as contributing towards general health and nutrition.
The snack food industry in market-driven societies such as the United States generates billions of dollars in revenue each year. The market for snack foods is enormous, and a number of large corporations are constantly struggling to capture larger shares of the snack food market. Consequently, heavy promotions are used to convince consumers to buy snack foods. Snack foods are advertised far more than regular nutritional foods (such as fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy products), and the flashiest TV commercials and advertising campaigns are often designed to sell snack foods.