While it seems everyone was losing money during the recession, Americans' craving for comfort food helped keep the potato chip market thriving, according to a recent study.
The potato chip market grew by 22 percent during the downturn, according to the national research firm Mintel. That came after years of so-so sales increases for makers of the salty treats.
But the industry wasn't alone. The tortilla chip market has increased by 18 percent since 2007, according to Mintel, while popcorn and cheese snack makers saw sales increases of 17 percent and 20 percent, respectively.
But the potato-chippy good times won't last forever.
"People bought more chips during the recession because they're a good value," said Chris Haack, a senior analyst for Mintel. "As the economy gets stronger, we expect annual sales increases to slow, but we don't expect markets to contract. New product innovations and the changed eating habits of many Americans will keep shoppers headed toward the snack aisle."
That was a nice way of saying America's love of junk food will keep these companies in business for a long time, just with smaller profits than they've enjoyed recently. But they might be some of the only companies wishing the recession would last longer.
--50 percent of kids, teens and people 18-24 say they eat salty snacks five times a week or more, Mintel found. Older adults say they eat them at roughly the same pace.
--65 percent of adults surveyed said they're interested in healthier snacks. Not surprisingly, however, nearly half said snacks with lower fat and sodium contents don't taste as good as the hard stuff.
On a related note, Mintel also recently released a study that found Americans are in denial about their health. Apparently almost everyone -- 7 in 10, actually -- thinks they're healthier than they really are.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 67 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. The Mintel survey found that just 25 percent of people think they fall into those categories.
But, strangely enough, 70 percent of those surveyed think they should exercise more. Just 37 percent said they exercise regularly. Almost half of those said they work out twice a week or less, according to Mintel.
In case you're wondering, the CDC recommends 150 minutes of "moderate aerobic" activity per week, in addition to strength conditioning.
Our health issues don't seem likely to change anytime soon: Just 51 percent of adults surveyed by Mintel consider it "very important" to live a healthy lifestyle, while almost 40 percent said it was "somewhat important."
So given the choice between paying for our monthly allotment of Doritos or a monthly gym membership, it's a clear knock-out for the tasty triangles.