In reviewing my year I came across these photos of a box of potato chips I took in January on a plane. I took them because it seemed so much better to me than chips in a bag:

chip box 1 chip box 2 chip box 3 chip box 4

The corners of the box opened out, so that it was like a bowl.

As usual, I wonder, is it actually better or does it just seem so to me? If it is better, why aren’t most chips sold this way?

Ways it seems better to me:

  • you don’t get oil from the bag all over your hand
  • you can see what you are picking up, which is somehow pleasing
  • and which also allows more delicate grasping, rather than just thrusting your hand into the food, which seems better for sharing
  • it has a natural surface to sit on, which is more pleasing than a bag that sits on its side
  • it would fit neatly in a drawer, instead of taking up a large shapeless space (this is getting minor, but I do imagine it affecting what I would in fact want to buy)

Further evidence that this is good is that people often pour chips into bowls.

A downside is that it seems to involve more packaging, though I’m not sure how much the environmental impacts of cardboard and normal chip packaging compare. Other foods regularly involve cardboard boxes, along with numerous layers of other packign material, so it would be surprising if that was prohibitively costly. I think the foil-like layer is needed to avoid air getting in and making the chips stale (chips are actually packaged with nitrogen to keep fresh, apparently).

There could easily be costs I don’t know about. For instance, apparently normal chip packaging involves carefully chosen layers of polymer for things like repelling moisture and avoiding package breakage. And some materials will change the taste of ingredients. I also wonder if you could do a similar thing with creative use of entirely normal chip packaging, though there is less of an existence proof there. I’m imagining something like this:

chip drawing