August 31st is National Trail Mix Day. While the concept of mixing nuts and dried fruit has been popular for millennia, “trail mix” as a concept for a modern, portable energy snack is relatively new.
The term refers to a mixture of high-energy foods such as dried fruit and nuts, combined with other tasty additions. Commonly added ingredients include chocolate morsels or M&Ms, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, and breakfast cereals including granola.
TRAIL MIX HISTORRY
According to Wikipedia, two California firms, Hadley Fruit Orchards and Harmony Foods, claim that trail mix was invented in 1968 by two California surfers, who blended peanuts and raisins together for an energy snack.
But in the U.S., the birth of “trail mix” actually happened more than 10 years earlier. Trail mix is mentioned in Jack Kerouac’s 1958 novel, The Dharma Bums, when characters plan meals for for a hiking trip. To appear in a book published in 1958, it needed to be around a few years earlier. Variations of portable energy food have been carried by mankind since the beginning.
But the concept of gorp is easily earlier than that:
In Europe, the combination of nuts, raisins and chocolate as a trail snack dates at least to the 1910s, when outdoorsman Horace Kephart recommended it in his popular camping guide. An Oxford English Dictionary listing of 1913 cites Gorp as a term for trail mix often used by hikers, an acronym for “good old raisins and peanuts.” In modern times, some people re-acronym gorp to “granola, oats, raisins, peanuts.”
The combination of nuts, raisins and chocolate as a trail snack dates at least to the 1910s, when outdoorsman Horace Kephart recommended it in his popular camping guide.
Even earlier than that:
In Denmark, a mix known as studenterhavre “student oats”) dates to an 1833 citation. Studenterhavre consists mainly of raisins and almonds, but at Christmas, chocolate pieces are added.
Mixes are popular in many other countries as well.
 An elegant mix from Vital Choice (photo Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.  An M&M mix from Is This My Life (here’s the recipe).
 A gourmet mix from Aurora (photo by River Soma | THE NIBBLE).  For a party bar, set out the ingredients and let people make their own party favors to go (photo courtesy KitchenSimmer.com; here’s the recipe)
MODERN TRAIL MIX
Trail mix continues to be a popular snack—especially by hikers, campers and people on the go—because it’s lightweight, easily portable and requires no refrigeration. It’s a delicious, better-for-you- snack at home, school, work and in lunch bags everywhere.
RECIPE: MIX YOUR OWN TRAIL MIX
Candy: carob chips, chocolate chips/chunks, M&M’s, mini marshmallows, Reese’s Pieces, toffee, yogurt clusters
Cereal: Cheerios, Corn Flakes, graham cracker cereal, granola, mini Shredded Wheat, rolled oats
Dried fruits: apples, apricots, banana chips, blueberries, cherries, coconut, cranberries (Craisins), dates, mangoes, raisins
Exotica: crystallized ginger, Japanese rice crackers, jerky bits, sesame sticks, wasabi peas
Legumes: dried edamame (soybeans) or peas, peanuts
Nuts: almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, walnuts or other favorite
Salty snacks: mini crackers, pretzels, sesame sticks
Seeds: chia, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), sunflower seeds
Keep experimenting with ingredients and proportions until you have your “signature” trail mix recipe. Then consider it as general gifts and stocking stuffers.
SET UP A TRAIL MIX PARTY BAR
Let guests make their own party favors! Set up a table with:
Different trail mix ingredients.
Plastic snack bags.
Scoops for filling the bags (we used our set of measuring cups).
Wide Sharpies so people can keep track of whose is whose.