‘Rat Snacking’ Is TikTok’s Delightfully Weird Answer to Girl Dinner (and You’re Probably Already Doing It)

Shredded cheese by the light of the fridge

rat snacking: person reaching into bowl of snack mix
5m3photos/Getty Images

When TikTok dubbed “girl dinner” (aka eating snacks in place of a typical plated dinner) the food trend du jour, we were a bit put off. After all, we had been embracing the cheese-board-as-meal idea since, well, forever—and we don’t need our light nosh gendered, thanks so much. But rat snacking? That we can get on board with.

If you’re like us, you’re probably already a rat snacker without even knowing it. You see, the term refers to scrounging your fridge or pantry (like a rat would) for whatever sustenance you can get your hands on to ward off impending hangriness. A handful of olives and two spoons of hummus? Rat snack. Three cheese crackers and a cold chicken wing? Rat snack. Mozzarella folded inside pepperoni slices like tiny tacos? Rat snack!

In truth, the TikTok-driven moniker goes back at least as far as early 2023, when #pickleinablanket peaked on the social media platform, and Bustle interviewed user @kelitarosita, known for posting “what I eat in a day” montages and describing her meals as “scrounging around.”

The appeal of the rat snack isn’t so much in the exact combination of food, but in its embrace of wrongness. There’s something almost naughty about rat snacking, as if to stick it to the snack Man who made you think you could only pair sliced cheddar with bread, and not a smear of strawberry jam. It’s a “so wrong, it’s right” approach to hunger, or as The Cut aptly put it, “It’s a heh, heh, heh you can eat.”

rat snacking on a piece of cake
Deanna Wrubleski/Getty Images

Search the hashtag #ratsnack on TikTok and you’ll mostly find actual rats nibbling away on rat-friendly delights. (Cute…kinda.) But among those videos are the people embracing this lawless rat-snacking approach to eating, microwaving pre-shredded cheese over broken tortilla chips and alternating handfuls of chocolate chips with popcorn. There are no rules and, more importantly, no judgments.

So the next time you find yourself eating handfuls of shredded cheese by the light of the fridge, give yourself some grace. It’s a tough world out there, and sometimes you need a little treat to get by. In 2024, “we say less girl dinner, more rat snacking.”

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Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...