By Darryl Alder
Aug 31, 2015

Gorp has its Day!

national-trail-mix-day-august-31Ok, it’s National Trail Mix Day in the USA, but…

in New Zealand its called scroggin (Sultanas, Chocolate, Raisins and Other Goody-Goodies Including Nuts) and though city folk call it trail mix, us backcountry hikers know it as gorp.

“Gorp?”, you ask and I say yes! In doing a bit of research for this post, I came across a new word, backronym. Some, it seems, think gorp is an acronym like scroggin which is, good old raisins and peanuts. 

That’s at least how my mom made it and like most kits it was eaten in this order: peanuts first and raisins when finally desperate.  Finally she got the idea of adding M&Ms, now there was a treat to pick out first. By the end, at our house, my guess is that every raisin had been tossed back into the bowl at least once and were actually good for nothing.

Studentenfutter_01It wasn’t really until I lived in Germany for two years I began to eat the raisins in Studentenfutter (“student feed”), but the quality and variety of nuts and dried fruit made it an excellent tasting snack. So back in the USA I started making my own, raisins and all.

The Oxford English Dictionary cites a 1913 reference to the verb “gorp,” meaning “to eat greedily.” So I guess when I was making this 35 years ago for Varsity Scouts at Beaver High Adventure Base, I should have said, “Ok guys, you can gorp this trail mix down in one lunch or make it last the week, it’s your choice.”

Ours was a hearty mix of granola, mixed nuts, hard candy and chocolate candies. It was designed to do one thing: stave off hunger on the trail. At 9000 feet, most of our backcountry hikers could not last between meals, so gorp was a quick solution and the “snickers” solution was just a mess on the trail.

According to a Wikipedia contribution: “Trail mix is considered an ideal snack food for hikes, because it is lightweight, easy to store, and nutritious, providing a quick energy boost from the carbohydrates in the dried fruit or granola, and sustained energy from fats in nuts.” Backpacker Magazine states this: “Fact: Everything tastes better in the outdoors. But when you combine food that’s crunchy and salty (like nuts) with stuff that’s sweet and chewy (like dried fruit and candy), something magical happens. You’ve created gorp, the perfect power-packed snack for generations of backpackers.”

Planters-Trail-MixThe combination of nuts, raisins and chocolate as a trail snack dates at least back to the 1910s, when outdoorsman Horace Kephart recommended it in his popular camping guide, The Book of Camping and Woodcraft, p. 196, so it has likely been a part of Scouting for a long time.

Today, to celebrate this odd National Day, you can, of course, buy trail mix, but making and eating it as a family night activity would be so much more fun. Just mix dried fruit, nuts, chocolate,cereal and what ever else is opened in the cupboard. Be sure when you do you share your recipe in the comments below.

What’s your best mix?

Darryl head BW


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One thought on “Gorp has its Day!

  1. AvatarAnn Shumway

    Some of the best gorp I’ve ever had has been made when each Cub Scout brings a cup of something and we throw it all together, mix it up and then head out on a hike. You never know what ingredients will show up. It’s always a surprise and almost always yummy!


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