Courtesy / Chris Earhart
As a kid in West San Antonio, Jackie Earhart grew up on roasted corn, raspas, and sour pickles. They were staples of her childhood – treats she took for granted until she moved 2,000 miles away for college.
In Boston, Hot Cheetos were impossible to come by and most ingredients that went into her favorite home-cooked meals were nowhere to be found at the grocery store. So for the 12 years she was there, she had visitors from San Antonio bring her spices and snacks or mail her the chiles and cornhusks she couldn’t find there. Her holy grail was a 12-pack of Big Red – each can was saved for special occasions.
“These snacks were super valuable to me,” Earhart said. “In Boston, I would go to Mexican restaurants looking for something familiar, but it was nothing like San Antonio. It was such a huge culture shock.”
By 2014, she had moved back to San Antonio, but her time away had given her an idea: what if she could provide a snack delivery service as a way to give people who had moved away the little taste of home she was always searching for? So in September, Earhart launched Hoodrat Snacks – a subscription service that mails boxes containing an assortment of sweet and spicy street snacks.
Starting at $18 a month, subscribers can choose between a three-month, six-month, or annual plan. Each box mail contains a new assortment of surprises including things like De La Rosa Mazapan, lucas candies, and Hot Cheetos. For those who aren’t ready to commit, Earhart also curates a mercado where people can purchase kits to make micheladas, Hot Cheetos with cheese, and Frito pies.
For Earhart, Hoodrat Snacks was an idea nearly five years in the making – one she kept a secret from most of her family until the launch. Back in 2013, Earhart purchased the website domain and sat on the idea, going back and forth for years before finally taking the plunge.
“I was so scared to do it, but then I thought, ‘People are going to love this or hate this, might as well go for it,’” she said. “I didn’t want any negative voices in my head, so I didn’t tell anyone. Now, they’re just surprised by how much positive feedback we’re getting.”
Just 10 days after the launch, Earhart mailed off nearly 50 orders – most of which were annual subscriptions. While the majority of the packages were going to Texas addresses, Earhart said she also received orders from people in Alaska, Massachusetts, and California.
Back when she was in Boston, Earhart’s friend Bubba Soliz would bring her care packages from San Antonio. Once she started getting more serious about starting Hoodrat Snacks, he was one of the few people who knew about it beforehand. Soliz, a local tattoo artist, let Earhart set up shop in a spare room at his business so she could put together her packages.
“It just kind of took off overnight,” Soliz said. “It makes perfect sense. Being from San Antonio, these snacks are always around, and they’re not that hard for us to get our hands on. But even if you live as close as Dallas, things are completely different.”
Spurred by her concept’s early success, Earhart is already thinking of new ideas for kits and snacks to include in future deliveries. Eventually, she wants to expand into Hoodrat merchandise and accessories, like custom chopsticks with which to eat Hot Cheetos.
One kit she’s already working on will provide everything people need to make their own Hot Cheeto tamales – a twist on a tradition that was born during Earhart’s time in Boston. Over the years, as it became more and more impractical to fly home for the holidays, Earhart took matters into her own hands and hosted a tamalada with friends that became an annual celebration.
“I was having to call my aunt to get everything right, and I had to get people to mail me ingredients,” Earhart said. “I would make the masa and teach my friends how to spread it and make tamales. They had never tasted anything like them. After that, it became a tradition.”
That taste of home was important to Earhart, especially during times when she couldn’t come back to San Antonio. Now she hopes her boxes can provide the same for people who are homesick for some Westside comfort food.
When Marissa Lares and her family moved from San Antonio to Tulsa, Oklahoma, it was the first time they weren’t close to an H-E-B that had all their favorite snacks and ingredients. She was already thinking of asking her family to bring some up during a visit when she heard about Hoodrat Snacks. It didn’t take long for her to order an annual subscription. When she opened her first box, she found Hot Cheetos, a sour pickle with chamoy, lucas lollipops, and dulce de leche candies.
“It’s already gone,” Lares said. “We’ve never lived outside of San Antonio, so this came at a perfect time. It’s like a little piece of home every month.”