AUG 16, 2017 05:47 AM PDT

Why Potato Chip Bags are Always Full of Air

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

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
SEP 16, 2018
Videos
SEP 16, 2018
Diseases Lurking in Our Backyards
Despite being invisible, microbes surround us all the time. They cover our phones, our hands, and infiltrate our backyards. Although a lot of these microbe...
SEP 22, 2018
Videos
SEP 22, 2018
How Much of the Human Genome is Just Junk DNA?
Once written off as junk, it was suggested that some regions of the genome that don't code for protein act as regulators. But how much?...
OCT 13, 2018
Videos
OCT 13, 2018
Why you shouldn't give a baby water
Did you know that babies shouldn't drink water before they are at least six months old? That's because, while human adults are composed of 55-60% w...
OCT 15, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 15, 2018
Picking a Landing Site On Mars is No Easy Task
When space agencies like NASA send landers and rovers to other places in the solar system to explore, one of the most challenging questions they’re c...
OCT 17, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
OCT 17, 2018
The Science Behind Tardigrade's Ability to Survive Dehydration
Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are a type of eight-legged micro-animals that are less than half-millimeter in length.  There are over a thous...
OCT 19, 2018
Videos
OCT 19, 2018
Latin American Coffee Harvests Threatened by Fungus
A fungus called hemileia vastatrix causes a serious plant disease called coffee leaf rust....
Loading Comments...