What Actually Is Puppy Chow And Why Is It Called That?

Puppy Chow, also known as Muddy Buddies, is made of chocolate and peanut butter-coated Chex cereal doused in powdered sugar. A perfect no-bake treat with strong Midwestern ties, Puppy Chow is always a hit at potlucks and holiday parties and is incredibly easy to make. While it's been around for decades, the origins of this addicting snack remain unclear. Based on anecdotes from Midwesterners, many people attribute Puppy Chow's beginnings to some time in the 1960s and have childhood memories of making it at home, in Girl Scout troops, or in home economics classes.

While people in other parts of the country might look at you funny if you told them you're eating Puppy Chow, citizens of Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, and the Dakotas would know that it's not actual dog food you're eating. Puppy Chow is often said to be named for its semblance to canine kibble, but its name origin may actually go deeper than that. While the inventor of Puppy Chow and the reason for its name are uncertain, there is an interesting story behind the recipe that deserves recognition.

Puppy chow, Chex cereal, and Purina pet food

Is it called Puppy Chow because it simply resembles dog food? Or is it because Ralston Purina (the makers of Purina pet food) actually invented Chex, the cereal used to make the chocolatey peanut buttery treat for humans? In 1926, Purina launched its first dog food called Purina Dog Chow. "Chow" was in reference to the term "military chow," which was used to describe the food given to service members during WWI.

Branching into human food, in the mid to late 1930s, the Ralston Purina Company introduced Shredded Ralston cereal, the precursor to Rice Chex — which came out in the early 1950s. The early cereal boxes displayed the red and white checkerboard that is still Purina's logo today and is where the name "Chex" came from. Whether Puppy Chow is named for its Purina pet food connection is up for debate, but either way, it's still fun to know that a dog food company invented a central part of this delicious snack.

In 2002 General Mills developed Muddy Buddies, the same recipe as Puppy Chow. But it can't be said that General Mills invented the recipe since Midwesterners recall seeing it and eating it long before the early 2000s. Today, you can buy prepackaged Muddy Buddies in different varieties including the classic Peanut Butter & Chocolate, Mint Chocolate, Cookies & Cream, and Brownie Supreme.

How to make this Midwestern party staple

Another great perk of this nostalgic snack is how easily it can be made by adults and children alike. Perfect for every occasion from potlucks, barbeques, and holiday parties to troop meetings, movie nights, and middle-school sleepovers, Puppy Chow can easily be whipped up in a matter of minutes.

For a basic Puppy Chow recipe, you simply pour one box of your Chex of choice into a large bowl. Then, combine two cups of semisweet chocolate chips, three-quarter cups of creamy peanut butter, and one-third of a cup of cubed butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds, stir, then repeat until everything is melted. Pour the mixture over the cereal and gently stir. Finally, pour the cereal and confectioner's (powdered) sugar into an airtight container and shake to evenly coat it.

To prevent your powdery Puppy Chow coating from clumping, after pouring the warm chocolate-peanut butter mixture on the Chex, you can put it in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes to cool down before shaking it up with the powdered sugar. That way, the sugar will spread evenly over the squares instead of melting into the warm chocolate and peanut butter mix.