12 crisp facts

12 facts about crisps

We’re often asked what our favourite crisp facts are. Let’s face it: few things are as consistently enthralling as crisps, which makes singling out our favourite facts quite difficult. Testament to this is the sheer number of news titles specifically devoted to potatoes, the principal ingredient of crisps. There’s PotatoBusiness.com, Potato, Potato Review, Chinese Potato Journal, Potato Processing International, World Potato Markets, Potato Business Digital, The New Potato, American Journal of Potato Research, Potato Country and Potato Pro.

According to Google Scholar, there are more than 250,000 studies referencing potato crisps or potato chips. Some of these are page-turning bedtime reading. For instance:

  • “Addition of antioxidant of bamboo leaves effectively reduces acrylamide formation in potato crisps and French fries.”
  • “Fast detection of rancidity in potato crisps using e-noses based on mass spectrometry or gas sensors.”
  • “Objective and subjective measurement of the crispness of crisps from four potato varieties.”

It’s great to see such a rich and vibrant body of academic research. We hope that these studies – and our site in general – inspire a new generation of crisp enthusiasts.

Turning to our favourite facts:

The earliest reference to crisps in a work of fiction is in Charles Dickens’ novel, A Tale of Two Cities (1859). In it he refers to the snack as, “husky chips of potatoes”.

Cajun Squirrel flavoured crisps exist, although no squirrels are hurt in the making of the crisps (the same incidentally applies to Hedgehog crisps).

Walkers’ plain crisps have a decibel rating of 70.6. This is slightly louder than the sound of a car passing at 65mph from a distance of 25 feet or the noise of a vacuum cleaner.

Laura Scudder is said to have created the first modern bag of potato crisps in 1953. Previously, crisps were mostly sold out of wooden barrels or scooped from behind glass counters.

The sound of crunching contributes to the pleasure of eating crisps. A study shows that consumers who eat crisps with headphones on become bored with crisps more quickly.

Americans eat about 1.85 billion pounds of potato chips, or about 6.6 pounds per person per annum.

On September 13, 2013, Corkers Crisps, based in Pymoor, UK, created the largest bag of crisps on record, weighing 2,515 lb. 7.52 oz. (1,141 kg).

A brand of crisps called Fail Chips uses the tiny pieces that are typically found at the bottom of a bag of crisps. The company argues that these sediments are the tastiest. An initial quantity of 200,000 packets were distributed free of charge. The company has yet to offer the crisps commercially.

A single fake crisp brand appears in many TV programmes. Let’s Potato Chips has featured in Orange is the New Black, Arrested Development, My Name is Earl, Sons of Anarchy, Cougar Town, and more. The TV show Community even made a fake commercial for Let’s Potato Chips.

An Ohio man suffers from a condition called auto-brewery syndrome. One symptom of this rare disorder is that the body converts crisps into alcohol in the stomach.

Professor William E. Lee, a chemical and biomedical engineering professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, has a patent on crisp technology. For six years, he studied the sensory attributes of crisps and has become a leader in the field of crunchiness. When snack manufacturers need advice on crunch, they call Professor Lee.

During World War II, crisps were declared a non-essential food in the US and production stopped. After protests, crisps were re-classified ‘essential’ and production resumed.

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