AUG 16, 2017 05:47 AM PDT
Why Potato Chip Bags are Always Full of Air
WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
3 5 253

It's snack time and you eagerly rip into a bag of potato chips only to find the bag is only half filled with actual chips. The other half seems to be filled with seemingly empty air. Is this the biggest commercial fraud or is there a reason behind all the air-filled potato chip bags?

It turns out that Lay's and other manufacturers aren't trying to deceive you, at least not with what you perceive as empty air. Potato chip bags are purposely inflated, but not with ordinary air. Rather, the bag is filled with nitrogen, which acts as a tasteless, non-toxic preservative to keep chips crunchy. That's why after a bag of chips has been open - nitrogen leaked out, and air seeped it - the chips get stale and even rancid.

The puffed up potato chip bags also serve another physical purpose. Termed "slack fill," the bag's air content serves as a cushion for the chips, without which your snack would be reduced to nibbly crumbs.

So next time you lament a chip bag that's seemingly half empty, just imagine what your snack would look and taste like without the nitrogen fill!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
MAY 06, 2018
Videos
MAY 06, 2018
How Viruses Can Treat Cancer
Viruses' that are genetically modified can be used to treat cancer. This modification removes two key genes in the viruses' genome. The first gene removed
MAY 06, 2018
Videos
MAY 06, 2018
Here's What Happens When You Get Struck by Lightning
Many people share the common fear of being struck by lightning in a thunderstorm, and for good reasons. But have you ever stopped to think about what reall
MAY 14, 2018
Videos
MAY 14, 2018
Do Earth's Van Allen Belts Pose Any Risk to Astronauts?
Much of the world is getting fired up about sending astronauts to explore extraplanetary bodies such as Mars or the Moon, but there's one thing to keep in
MAY 20, 2018
Videos
MAY 20, 2018
Why the US still uses Fahrenheit
The US is one of the only countries still using the Imperial System of measurement, which includes our wacky Fahrenheit temperature scale as well as gallon
MAY 26, 2018
Videos
MAY 26, 2018
The Defense Mechanisms of Blowfish
Blowfish are known for their incredible defense mechanism: they can puff out into a spiky ball when threatened, as shown in the video. Some also have a spi
JUN 05, 2018
Videos
JUN 05, 2018
A Look Back at the Human Genome Project
Some of the participants in this landmark project tell some interesting stories about the work.
Loading Comments...