The only person who eats for free at The Super Snack Store is Isabel Torres.
She’s the mother of Dario Torres, a 20-year-old New Jersey entrepreneur who, along with girlfriend Taylor Trachtenberg, co-founded the business—a roving boutique filled with rare packaged treats, imported from around the world—earlier this year.
The first time Isabel tried a tiramisu-flavored Oreo Thin (sent from Korea) she shook the box around in the air incredulously. The whole thing’s documented on @thesupersnackstore’s Instagram page.
“I love those—oh my god,” she says. “How much is this?”
“$15, mami,” replies the younger Torres from behind the camera.
“I’d really pay for them,” she says. “That tastes good.”
It’s reactions like these that make a business—and fill a room of the Torres home with $10,000 worth of snacks. For the enterprising couple, who started the company on a lark, a sideline has turned into something bigger. For now, however, both still have day jobs: Torres, 20, is a mechanical engineer focused on the HVAC system at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Trachtenberg, 21, is a nanny for a local family. But by night—and by early morning, and all day on the weekend—they peddle esoteric and highly caloric snacks.
Among their inventory you will find: Ritz sandwiches from Japan, wherein two standard-issue crackers deftly cradle a delicate cream patty: vanilla, chocolate, or lemon. A tower of Coke-Lime (Canada), a special release of Sprite “with a splash of lemonade” (Canada, too), BBQ Cheetos (Japan), shelf-stable milkshakes made of blended Twix (U.K.), and a German beverage called Bounty that tastes like chocolate and coconut, but looks curiously like a bottle of sunscreen. There are “top shelf” Fantas, including the Shokata—elderberry and lemon—from Europe, the guarana from Bolivia, and the exclusive white and yellow peach made from the fruit of Okayama. There are pizza Pringles from Taiwan, and London-born sacks of cookie-nuggets called Oreo Joy Fills which, when taken between two teeth, yield a satisfying crunch not unlike a peanut butter-pretzel.
Torres and Trachtenberg opened up shop—by way of Instagram handle—in late April 2019, not really knowing how many Americans felt rare snack-deprived. By May, they’d sold their first cookies. Now, thanks to word-of-mouth growth, plus a few lucky breaks like a spot on the Instagram profile of @newyorknico (“the unofficial talent scout of New York City”), they make close to $1,000 in gross sales on a good week.
These days, their business model’s split between home deliveries (direct message them to place an order), the occasional in person pop-up, shipments to customers outside the tri-state area (mostly LA, they say), and “VIP trunk visits” for a minimum of $150, during which they’ll stock the boot of Torres’ car to look like an edible jewel vault and park outside a customer’s home to facilitate unbridled selection, like something out of a kid’s or a wine-drunk adult’s wildest dreams.
Shelves & Shelves of Chips
When it’s not on the move, The Super Snack Store is headquartered beneath the Elizabeth, New Jersey home where Torres has lived since he was six. He and Trachtenberg rent the basement—which includes a bedroom, a bathroom, and a closet suffused with Supreme and AntiSocialSocialClub gear—from Torres’ parents for $500 a month. (His father, Dario Torres Sr., has never asked to try a snack.) The space is conveniently equipped with a handsome built-in bar, replete with wooden shelves for spirit storage, which the couple have dragooned into use as a display case for their wares.
The basement’s also occupied by an eight-month-old Yorkie called Kiko (after a Narcos character), who often accompanies Trachtenberg on solo deliveries—Torres works a 3-to-11 p.m. shift most days. Kiko, a small puppy who spends most of his time surrounded by $10,000 in snacks, shows so little interest in the easy prey that it almost seems like he’s plotting a long game.
The pair are vague about their sources. The most they’ll say is that they get their goods from friends and members of their social media cohort who are based abroad and willing to acquire product. The newest import, a cardboard box stuffed with packages of Twix Soft Centre Biscuits from the U.K., sits atop Kiko’s crate.
According to Trachtenberg, many of their customers are regulars. The most loyal one’s a woman named Kelsey*, “a super pothead”—great for business. They meet her weekly in the parking lot of a nearby White Castle, where she selects $70 to $100 dollars in snacks.
Others find them through Instagram. A couple weeks back, Torres arranged a New York City delivery to one of their 16,000 followers, and later learned the customer is the daughter of music mogul L.A. Reid.
On a Sunday afternoon in July, another regular named Ari arrived at headquarters for a pick-up. “There’s some certain shit that my girl wanted,” he said, procuring a list from his pocket. “The shakes—the M&M and the Twix.” Minutes later, Ari left, $75 lighter but laden with several shakes, BBQ Cheetos, two types of Joy Fills, and one of those Twix Soft Centres that cast a shadow on Kiko’s bed.
Though a fair amount of business comes from shipments to faraway consumers and pop-ups, a solid contingent of their customer base is local to Elizabeth. The gas station down the block from their home proudly displays a large logo sticker for The Super Snack Store on a pump. Kean University is just around the corner, and Torres and Trachtenberg eagerly anticipate the distribution opportunities this fall, when school’s back in session.
How to Build a Snack Empire
They’ve both always wanted to start a company.
“Merging our interests was the hard part,” says Torres. The Super Snack Store was the idea that finally fit the bill. “It’s snacks, it’s food—and who doesn’t love snacks and food?”
Torres, who will be 21 next month, told me he used to model for Pharrell Williams’ clothing line Billionaire Boys Club—he’s a natural in front of a camera or crowd. He initiates an Instagram Live broadcast as easily and regularly as someone might check the time.
At a pop-up last weekend in the West Village, Torres gently wrangled loafer-clad passersby with a grin: “Hey boss, you like rare snacks? I see you looking.”
Later, a tall dude in leather sneakers ambled across the street from Sant Ambroeus to see what all the fuss was about. “$30 for a soda?” he asked, inquiring about a bottle of Fanta. “I’ve only got $5 bucks on me.” He took a free sticker and shuffled back.
“We need to get a banner or something that says ‘Rare Snacks,’” said Torres, after the slow stretch that followed. “That’s why we need the van—the snackmobile.”
Said snackmobile is next on the list for The Super Snack Store: a large vehicle that Torres plans to emblazon with their logo and stock semi-permanently, to avoid the time-consuming configuration and deconstruction of a hot car trunk. And after that?
“Cup Noodle Pringles. They even have Steak Taco Cup Noodle Pringles,” he says. And later, they hope, branded merchandise. For now, though, they’re focused on keeping their customers and gaining new ones.
“We talked this into existence,” says Trachtenberg. “From the moment we did it, we were like, this is going to be huge. You’ve got to put 100 percent.”
She thinks their success is, at least in part, based on their ability to provide a travel-like adventure, without the barriers to entry—essentially, enabling clients to step in front of the coolest vending machine in Tokyo without ever having to board a plane.
“I really think it’s a new experience. It’s literally like you’re going to that country, and you get to taste something that you’re never going to be able to touch here,” she says.
For some, it’s perhaps even better—a pre-curated visit to that vending machine. “I usually don’t know what I’m looking for” when traveling, said a customer named Aaron at the West Village pop-up. “And they have a specific selection. I was like, I do want this, this, and this.” Aaron is a customer service supervisor from Staten Island, and he’s been following @thesupersnackstore for the past month after a photo of a Snickers shake caught his eye.
“I thought there would be a line,” he said, giddily, as he dropped $90 on several beverages, honey-chile chips, a box of vanilla Ritz sandwiches, and some Twix Soft Centres. “Everything is just so rare.”
*Names have been changed
Photos by Ken Castaneda.