How Much Air are You Actually Paying for in Your Bag of Chips?December 4, 2014
As disappointing as it is to open a bag of your favorite chips and find that there’s more air in it than the actual snack, it’s a necessary reality we have to deal with. Manufacturers intentionally (and legally) fill each bag with air to keep the chips fresh and minimize crushing in the course of shipping and handling the product. Still, are they using this as an excuse to deceive us with a bigger-looking bag of chips? How much of it though is just sad filler air?
For this experiment, we’re comparing four common potato chip brands in the Philippines: Lay’s, Kettle, Oishi, and Jack n’ Jill. To find out how much of each brand is chips and how much is air, we get the ratio of the weight of the chips to the volume of the bag:
Ratio of chips to volume of bag = weight/volume
We compute for the volume of each sealed bag of chips through the water displacement method, since it’s an irregularly shaped object. (I hope I’m making my 3rd grade science teacher proud.)
All of this, of course, under the following assumptions:
- The amount of air inside each bag of chips of the same brand does not vary; i.e., two bags of Lay’s contains equal amounts of air; and
- Elevation is not a factor; i.e., you know how there’s more air pressure in a bag of chips in a flying aircraft than one in a non-elevated location?
Now that we have both the weight and volume for each brand, we can get the ratios:
Lay’s Kettle Oishi Jack n’ Jill
Weight 184.2g 142g 60g 60g
Volume 8,706.45cm3 7,192.28cm3 659.75cm3 518.37cm3
Ratio 2.12% 1.97% 9.09% 11.57%
This means that for every bag of Lay’s, you get a little over 2% of chips, almost 2% in a bag of Kettle, 9% in Oishi, and over 11% in Jack n’ Jill. Jack n’ Jill, with the highest percentage of chips content, and not taking into account flavor and quality of the product, gives us the most value for our money.
This should also tell us how much power manufacturers have over our perception. Of course, they could make the size of each bag smaller, a little tighter in proportion to the amount of chips inside, so it’s less deceptive for customers. But with the results of the experiment, why don’t they?