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The Psychological Trick Behind Potato Chip Bags

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Whether you prefer the neon orange dust of Cheetos, try to keep things relatively healthy with pretzels, or firmly believe in the impossibility of eating just one Lay’s potato chip, your snack choices all have one thing in common: their packaging.

With the exception of Pringles, almost all chips come in a crinkly polymer bag. Your chief complaint about those bags may be how they’re only filled about halfway, but that’s on purpose—the bags are filled with nitrogen to create an air cushion that helps protect the delicate snacks within.

Another part of the bag design that’s completely intentional: the noise it makes. Research has shown that the crinkly, crunchy noise produced by the polymer increases the user’s sensory experience, leading snackers to feel that the chips are crisper, crunchier, and fresher than those not served in the bag.

But there is a tipping point to the effect, as Frito Lay inadvertently discovered. In 2010, the company introduced a new, compostable bag for their Sun Chips brand. Consumers quickly picked up on the fact that the bag, made of a corn-based polylactic acid, was louder than the old version—a lot louder. The bag tested at 95 decibels, which is about as loud as a motorcycle. The ear-piercing package even inspired a Facebook community called “SORRY BUT I CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER THIS SUN CHIPS BAG,” liked by more than 40,000 people. Due to consumer response, the bag was changed again in 2011.

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environment
London Grocery Chain Encourages Shoppers to Bring Their Own Tupperware
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Why stop at bringing your own grocery bags to the store? One London grocery wants you to BYO-Tupperware. The London Evening Standard reports that a UK chain called Planet Organic has partnered with Unpackaged—a company dedicated to sustainable packaging—to install self-serve bulk-food dispensers where customers can fill their own reusable containers with dry goods, cutting down on plastic packaging waste.

To use the system, customers walk up and weigh their empty container at a self-serve station, printing and attaching a label with its tare weight. Then, they can fill it with flour, nuts, or other kinds of dry goods, weigh it again, and print the price tag before taking it up to the check out. (Regular customers only have to weigh their containers once, since they can save the peel-off label to use again next time.)

Planet Organic is offering cereals, legumes, grains, nuts, chocolate, dried fruit, and even some cleaning products in bulk as part of this program, significantly reducing the amount of waste shoppers would otherwise be taking home on each grocery trip.

Zero-waste grocery stores have been popping up in Europe for several years. These shops, like Berlin's Original Unverpackt, don't offer any bags or containers, asking customers bring their own instead. This strategy also encourages people to buy only what they need, which eliminates food waste—there's no need to buy a full 5-pound bag of flour if you only want to make one cake.

The concept is also gaining traction in North America. The no-packaging grocery store in.gredients opened in Austin, Texas in 2011. The Brooklyn store Package Free, opened in 2017, takes the idea even further, marketing itself as a one-stop shop for "everything that you'd need to transition to a low waste lifestyle." It sells everything from tote bags to laundry detergent to dental floss.

[h/t London Evening Standard]

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Jellyfish Chips Might Be Your Next Snack Obsession
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When it comes to processed foods, the palate of the average American isn't very adventurous. A bag of pickle-flavored Lay's chips might be a radical snack option. But if researchers in Denmark are on the right track, we may soon be crunching a very different kind of treat: jellyfish chips, as Futurism reports.

The ethereal-looking marine animals are usually recognized for their squishy frames and sometimes as a threat due to their venomous sting. They're often prepared for human consumption in Asian cultures, with the body being marinated in salt and potassium for weeks to create a crunchy delicacy. Recently, Danish scientists at the University of Southern Denmark were able to expedite this process, using ethanol to create a crispy jellyfish chip in a matter of days.

A jellyfish chip is made from a jellyfish being dried out in ethanol
Mie T. Pedersen

Why bother? Due to overfishing, more popular seafoods are experiencing shortages. The jellyfish, however, have a flourishing population and are rich in vitamins and minerals.

Right now, researchers are focused on the microscopic changes that take place when processing a jellyfish from its gooey natural state to a hardened, crunchy form. It could be a while before any serious product development is conducted. And as far as taste goes, it might need a bit of seasoning. The current process for making jellyfish consumable results in a taste that some have compared to eating a salty rubber band.

[h/t Futurism]

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