Anonymous asked: Isn't the Pringles potato chip labeling issue also because they are made out of much less actual potato than "normal" chips? And in the UK they fought to not be categorized into the same group so they would be subject to less VAT? My sister, a doctor, tries to satisfy her junk food cravings with Cheetos, and says that if we really want potato chips to go for a brand other than Pringles since they're pretty much potato starch, lacking even the potassium you could get from normal chips.
…depends on how you define “less actual potato”. That makes it sound like you think Pringles are primarily composed of something other than potato, which is not the case. They start with a potato. They transform that potato using age-old food preservation and preparation techniques (dehydrating and then forming and cooking), though with space-agey science added in (they use computerized machines… but then, I’m sure the potato chip fryers do, too).
In the process, yes, some of what was in the original potato is lost. But it’s not replaced with tungsten or something.
Anyway, there are two categories of people you should always be suspicious about getting advice about “junk food” from: doctors (especially who don’t specifically have a specific grounding in nutrition, and even if they do, be skeptical), and other people’s relatives.
Doctors mostly get their notions about food and nutrition from the same sources as the rest of us (internet rumors, “common sense”, societal prejudice, pseudoscience, and stuff that they heard other people’s sisters who are doctors said), but because of their medical education, more authority gets attached to it.
As for the labeling issue: well, no. It was purely a mercantile dispute. Even if it could be proven today that Pringles cause spontaneously combusting rectal tumors that migrate to the brain, that wouldn’t change that the motivation behind the labeling issue was to prevent a newcomer that managed to address the top complaints people have about potato chips from being marketed as a competitor to potato chips.
Pringles are a perfect example of a product that exists specifically to address consumer complaints in an existing product. They are good at what they do.
It’s true that Pringles don’t have the potassium of other potato products. You know who this is an issue for? People who eat potato chips for potassium. You go ahead and round those people up, I’ll wait while you find them and then I’ll address their concerns. Meanwhile, notice how Pringles haven’t actually managed to supplant traditional potato chips, or the act of eating an actual potato. And they won’t, so it’s kind of silly to act like they’re a potassium deficiency waiting to happen.
People eat potato chips because they want something that will taste good and go crunch. If there’s a nutritional component to the craving, it’s the potato starch. People’s relatives who are doctors call this “empty calories” on the basis that it’s just calories without substantive nutrition, but this ignores the fact that calories are what we need to get ourselves through the day. Potassium is a long-term need.
Don’t get me wrong, I know potassium is important. My body in particular takes several of my major muscle groups hostage when I don’t eat potassium. But if your life is at a point where “empty calories” are a thing you can worry about—where you never have to worry about what’s going to get you through the day without running out of oomph—then congratulations on your success in life.
Also, unless you’re sodium deficient, then potassium is about the only redeeming nutritional value of traditional potato chips, so why are we stopping there? The same logic that says “DON’T EAT PRINGLES, EAT POTATO CHIPS” says “DON’T EAT POTATO CHIPS”. It’s not like the added potassium cancels out the starch, or the potential negative effects of a glucose dump it will turn into. It’s not like the potato chips are a balanced meal. It’s not like they’re not high in sodium… in fact, they have more than double the sodium of Pringles… so when your sister the doctor tells people not to eat Pringles, she is making a wild guess that they have more pressing problems from potassium deficiency than they do from sodium intake, which seems unlikely.
And that’s the kind of thing that happens when people dispense generic medical advice to strangers based on a random factoid.
When you’re eating potato chips, it’s either a choice or a necessity. If it’s a necessity, you’re eating them because they’re there, because they’re available. If it’s a choice… well, you’ve already chosen to eat “junk food”. And if what you’re choosing to eat is Pringles, why not eat the Pringles? It’s not necessary… or ultimately helpful… to make your junk food choices based on some random, arbitrary metric of “healthiness” or “wholesomeness” and “goodness” so you can tell yourself “well, at least I’m being good.”
Even by the narrow definition of healthy eating being promoted, that doesn’t actually encourage healthy eating habits. Rather, it encourages us to fool ourselves.
I like Pringles because of the novelty (or at least, what was novel when I was a kid, but it never really went away), and because they come out with more interesting flavors, and because the uniformity of shape and texture appeals to me, and because they are less salty than most chips. “Potassium” isn’t an answer to those needs.