French fries are an appetizer that we all enjoy at any time of the year. Although summer is more prone to sharing bags of potatoes, there is one factor that always puts most consumers in a bad mood: the air in the bag.
Anyone who buys packaged snacks on a regular basis knows what it’s like to feel very disappointed after opening a bag and finding it literally half full (or even just a third). If you wonder why there is so much air in the bag of chips, we have the solution.
Potato chip bags with nitrogen, not air
Turns out, the “air” in snack bags isn’t just air. It’s flavor-preserving nitrogen that fights rancidity and protects bags from crushing before eating. Potato makers fill the bags with this preservative gas to help keep the produce fresh. If it were filled with normal air, the potatoes would probably get soggy and spoil. In 1994, scientists discovered that exposing potatoes to nitrogen not only helped extend shelf life, but also made them taste more delicious.
The process of filling the bags with nitrogen has its own name: ” loose fill .” Although this necessary practice “fills up” the bag, it also leaves an empty stomach and disappoints hungry shoppers. The journey from the production plant to the vending machine in your office or the supermarket can be quite bumpy. If it weren’t for the baggy filling, the fries would probably look like breadcrumbs.
What are the brands that contain the most air?
A Kitchen Cabinet Kings study revealed which brands have the most air in their bags. Cheetos and Ruffles had a higher air-to-bag ratio than other brands, which means we may not get as much finger goodness for the same amount of money.
A bag of Cheetos contains 41 percent potato chips and 59 percent air that preserves flavor. However, Ruffles matches the content, measuring half air, half potatoes.
The fries that offered the best investment were Fritos, Pringles and Tostitos . They had the highest ratio of chips to empty space, with percentages of air ranging from 34 percent to just 19 percent in a Fritos bag.
Experts say that the most “legal” average should be 43% air in a bag . Anything above that looks like a scam and anything below that is a pleasant surprise.
If you think buying a better snack for yourself means you’re getting more crispy fries for the same money, think again. The air-filling habit affected the healthiest and highest calorie fries alike. Unless the potatoes are sold vacuum sealed, there is no way around a bag full of nitrogen. Even the brands that offer the highest return on investment will still have a little air.
To know how much air your bag has, pay attention to the net weight that is printed on the container, this way you can discern if you are getting the most out of your investment.