one-handed food
n. Food that is small enough to hold in one hand and is not messy to eat so that it can be consumed while driving or working.
Fast-food restaurants have succeeded best with 'one-handed food,' because the majority of fast-food patrons eat in the car.
—Mary E. Corcoran, “Changing a habit isn't an issue of immediate gratification,” The Kansas City Star, September 10, 1996
1987 (earliest)
More Americans than ever are trying to 'eat and . . . ' — eat and walk, run, read, work or watch television, or even drive a car. They need what market researchers call 'commuter food,' 'finger food' or 'no-think food.' Mona Doyle, president of the Consumer Network in Philadelphia, which monitors the attitudes of 3,500 shoppers, calls it 'one-handed food.' Ideally, she said, it requires no utensils and does not drip, crumble or demand inordinate attention on its path from hand to mouth.
—Trish Hall, “Now, Food For the Otherwise Engaged,” The New York Times, April 15, 1987
I first saw the phrase one-handed food used in a story earlier this year about a new product being carried by 7-Eleven: macaroni and cheese covered in dough and served on a stick. [Insert shudder of disgust here.] Delving a little deeper into this phenomenon (that is, the one-handed food phenomenon, not the macaroni-on-a-stick phenomenon; the latter I'm hoping to soon shove into an unused corner of my brain where it will hopefully never impinge upon my consciousness again), I traced the concept all the way back to 1987.
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