Where would savory snacking be without the potato chip? Few snacks are as universally beloved. Although it comes in many shapes, sizes, flavors, and varieties, the potato chip remains one of the most popular snacks in the world. But while we can all admit we’re potato chip lovers, how well do we really know the chip? Let’s find out.
Here are eight bizarre facts about the potato chip to give you a little snacking perspective.
1. A Complaining Restaurant Patron Created The Potato Chip
That’s right – the chip was born out of pure annoyance. In 1853, an unhappy customer at a restaurant in Saratoga Springs, New York kept complaining to the chef that his French fries were not thin enough.
After returning the fries several times to have them slimmed down, the irritated chef eventually sliced the potatoes so thin; they could not be eaten with a fork when fried. Thus, by an act of trolling, the potato chip was born.
2. There Is A Perfectly Good Explanation For All That Empty Space In Your Bag Of Chips
Ever open up what seems like a full bag of chips just to find there’s more space in the bag than chips? As annoying as that can be, chips are packaged that way for a few reasons.
Most importantly, that excessive air in the bag in meant to act as a cushion, so your precious chips don’t break during delivery. That space is also almost entirely nitrogen – the bag is pumped full it to maintain long-term freshness.
3. The World’s Largest Bag Of Chips Weighed More Than A Small Car
In 2013, Corkers Crisps set a new world record for the largest potato chip bag. The bag was 18 feet tall and contained 2,515 potato chips, all cooked in a single batch (as according to Guinness World Record guidelines), which was a 17-hour process. What I want to know is where did they get an 18-foot chip bag…
4. One Engineer Spent Six Years Studying The Crunchiness Of Chips
Professor William E. Lee, a chemical and biomedical engineering professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, has a patent on chip technology – potato chip technology that is.
For six years, Lee studied the sensory attributes of salty snacks, namely the chip, and has become a leader in the field of crunchiness. Now, when snack companies want to compare their snack’s crunch to a competitor’s snack, they call Lee. What a boss job.
5. Potato Chips Briefly Went Extinct During World War II
During the second World War, when food rations were typical, chips were declared an “unessential food” and production stopped immediately nationwide. Yeah, America didn’t like that so much. After many protests, chips were declared “essential” and produced again, proving once more that the U.S. has exactly the right priorities.
6. The Earliest Printed Reference To The Potato Chip Is In Charles Dickens’ Novel, “A Tale of Two Cities” (1859)
In Dickens’ classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities, he gives the first known recorded shout-out to potato chips. He refers to the snack as, “husky chips of potatoes”, which is extremely literal and doesn’t do our great chips justice. But, hey, any publicity is good publicity.
7. “Cajun Squirrel” Flavored Potato Chips Exist
Wow, I wish I were joking. A British potato chip company came out with a “Cajun Squirrel” flavored potato chip in 2009 as a part of a taste-testing contest, where consumers voted on the best new flavor. Shockingly enough, “Cajun Squirrel” did have some fans. Meanwhile, I still can’t believe this happened in England of all places.
8. In Britain, French Fries Are “Chips,” And Chips Are…
So those “Cajun Squirrel” chips are actually “Cajun Squirrel” crisps if you want to get technical. In Britain, what we would call “French fries” in North America are referred to as “chips” or “chippies” in England. To avoid confusion, what we call “potato chips” are called “crisps” in the U.K.
In other English-speaking parts of the world (like New Zealand and Australia) they distinguish fries and chips by calling them “hot chips” or “cold chips.” Regardless, chips truly have an international language of their own.