Clearing the air

Which chip brands are stuffing their bags with more air than chips?


Cory Wack

Are popular chip brands being dishonest in how they fill their bags?

Cory Wack, Reporter

Opening a bag of chips can be very disappointing— often inside is a scandalous amount of chip in comparison to the packaging and air. Perhaps a specific brand comes to mind, one that is full, or one that is ripping you off.

 The following experiment is intended to determine which brand of chips gives you the most sustenance in comparison to packaging. 

The water displacement method is a way to acquire the volume of solid objects. By recording the volume of water and then putting your object in it and recording the change in volume, you can find the volume of the object. (Cory Wack)

Many consider some chips to be better than others, therefore they are justified to put fewer chips in the packaging, or they cost more to make so the amount included in the bag is decreased, however, this is not a factor in this experiment. For environmental reasons and ethical marketing, chips should be held in the minimum amount of plastic possible to reduce waste and to not falsely encourage a purchase with an inflated bag. 

This experiment is focused on 6 popular brands of chips: Fritos, Cheetos, Lays, Ruffles, Doritos, and Pringles. The sample bags were all collected from the same variety pack of chips,  Pringles being the only exception. Buying a separate “fun-sized” can of Pringles was necessary for the experiment because Pringles are often praised for fully stuffing their cans with chips.

The water displacement method was used to acquire the volume for the packaging, air, and chips, and then just the chips. Initially, each of the packages were submerged fully into beakers to get the volume, then the chips were taken out and funneled into a graduated cylinder where the change in the total volume was recorded.

The total percentage of the bag that is actually chip is very low for every brand. The highest is Cheetos with 16.8% C/PA (Chip to packaging and air).

 The Doritos bag having the 2nd most chips in comparison to the packaging and the air is surprising, but can be explained when the bags are examined; the Doritos bag has far less air inside, so the volume is lower than the other chips. 

Though this experiment was taken seriously, it was not perfect, and there are many potential sources of error. It must be taken into account that this experiment is not perfectly representative of every bag, since only one of each brand was used.  (Cory Wack)

Pringles being so low may come as a surprise, however, the fun-sized Pringle cans are very empty in comparison to the full ones. It should be considered that the larger versions of each of these chips will have different results. 

When purchasing chips in the future, you may want to consider the information provided, to know you are getting the most out of your investment.