Too Good to Be Food


I’m a little late getting to this story, but it has absolutely floored me, so I just had to share.

I’m sure everyone here has had the privilege of eating a Pringle or two in their lifetime. Or, more likely, seven or seventy or seven thousand. Once you pop, you can’t stop. It really is true. More than a few times in my life, I have sat down and eaten an entire tin of these things in one sitting. There’s just something about them–you could eat Pringles all day long and still be hungry. Now, after all this time, I’ve finally found out why that is–THEY AREN’T FOOD.

Earlier this year, the Pringles company, trying to avoid taxes, successfully argued before a British court that Pringles are not potato chips at all. You see, while most foods are not taxable in Britain, potato products are. I’m unclear exactly why–but I assume it has something to do with starving the Irish.

But the clever Pringle folks got around that by pointing out that their tasty little snackeens should hardly be called potato chips:

Mr Justice Warren said yesterday that to fall within the taxed potato category, “the product must be wholly, or substantially wholly, made from potato”.

Pringles have a potato content of about 42 per cent. “As a result, this appeal is allowed because regular Pringles are not, on the facts found, ‘made from the potato, or from potato flour, or from potato starch’ within the legal requirement and are exempt from VAT,” he said.

Tricky, tricky, Mr. Pringle! And so they got out of paying the pesky potato tax. But it certainly raises an upsetting question:  Exactly what the hell is the other 58 percent of a Pringle? Well according to the packaging, it’s yummy stuff like cottonseed oil, maltodextrin, wheat starch, dextrose, and other delicious things.

Now, we all know I’m no health food pusher, but is it so much to ask that junk food at least be made from real food? I mean, salt and sugar and fat up my food as much as you want, but I would feel a whole lot better about it if you were at least starting with something that grows in the ground. For christsake, people, even the Chinese have banned Pringles! This is the same government that puts poison in baby formula, covers children’s toys with lead, and sells us toothpaste made from arsenic—and they won’t even allow Pringles in the freaking country because they are that bad for you.

OK, that’s my rant for the day. I’m off to find a bag of Lay’s.

Previous Chip Coverage on ES:

The Dip-Flip-Dip

Getting a Chip Off My Shoulder

Rap Snacks

Photo: Slomuzzz

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  • Liza September 25, 2008  

    wow I’m speechless…

  • gansie September 25, 2008  

    you know, i was just discussing the potato chip phenom with 80. so i was watching america’s test kitchen and in their tasting lab they sampled a few different brands of chips and they commented about some having a true potato flavor. and i think they liked the kettle chips best – which i hate. anyway, this got me thinking – i actually don’t want my potato chips to taste like potatoes. i want them to taste like potato chips. and i want them to have ridges.
    (BS–I’d grab Herr’s brand over Lays)

  • Pinch o Minch September 25, 2008  

    So they are changing their name to dextrose chips? Maltodextrin munchies? Cottonseed crunchies?

  • BS September 25, 2008  

    I’ve never really understood the point of ridges. What’s the added value there?

  • gansie September 25, 2008  

    i like the texture, added crunch. and as i hate flavored chips, this is about as adventurous as i get.

    and id venture to say that other people like ridges for their dipping ability.

  • gansie September 25, 2008  

    i really love potato chips.

  • Alex September 25, 2008  

    As any sciencey person can tell you, the goal of ridges in all areas of life and the human body is to increase surface area. So by introducing them to their chips, they can pack more salt and other flavorings into the same-sized bite, and thus get you thinking that their product is more flavorful, when actually you’re just eating more per bite. And now that we know that it’s all malowhateverblah, which probably gives you cancer or makes you turn green or something, I would be wary of the ridges.

    It’s also a marketing ploy.

    Never liked Ruffles anyway.

  • gansie September 25, 2008  

    i see michael pollan has gotten to you, alex

  • Jeb September 25, 2008  

    I love potato chips. I love all kinds. Ridges, extra thin, kettle…you name it, EXCEPT baked. As far as I’m concerned baked potato chips shouldn’t be called potato chips.

  • Cynthia September 25, 2008  

    I’m so glad I stopped eating Pringles years ago, didn’t have a reason then but I’m sure glad now.

  • Emer September 30, 2008  

    I’m not looking to start another Dairygold-esque discussion but I have one word for you. Tayto. Cheese and onion Tayto to be specific.

  • Yvo September 30, 2008  

    Wow. I’m floored by this revelation. And annoyed. Boo. (Don’t forget the Chinese also have put melamine in both dog food and now a children’s candy that is commonly given out during the lunar new year!)
    But the best line by far had to be : “…but I assume it has something to do with starving the Irish.” I actually started giggling like an idiot at work. Thank you.

  • DAD GANSIE October 1, 2008  

    Chips Are good. I like thebaked lays with ridges
    Mom Gansie Likes herrs too

  • Clayton October 2, 2008  

    Aw man 🙁 And here I liked pringles but now I will not want to eat them 🙁

  • bARBARA i AM Addicted to Pringles but worried in case tey are bad for me March 21, 2010  

    Would appreciate comments on whether I should stop eating them –

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