Potato chips: can’t live with them, can’t eat a whole bag without feeling a little silly. The allure of the salty, fried snack is pretty obvious (they’re salty and fried) but what actually goes into making the bags on bags of chips that line our local stores?
NPR decided to do a little digging on all our behalfs to figure out just how Herr’s makes literally tons of potato chips every single hour.
The video is a little bit of promo for Herr’s, which is less recognizable than the Doritos, Lays, and Pringles of the world. Still, the video contains some unexpected info (and some late-90s-style B-roll of industrial machines whirring away). Did you know that to get the potatoes out of the truck Herr’s just cantilevers the whole truck and let’s the spuds roll out? Or that the bags are rapidly heat-sealed on a conveyor belt?
More importantly, did you know how much waste is created to make sure that the consumer only gets the whitest, most unblemished chips possible? After the chips have been cut and cooked, they roll on a conveyor belt which can photograph the haul for any dark spots or bruises. These discolored chips are then shot out of the production line with little air jets (wasteful, but cool). Only the most perfect chips make it to the bag.
It’s fine to want to present a uniform product, but those spots are part of the spud, too! While we hope the discarded chips get reused in some way, the video cuts away without showing their final resting place.
The video is a surprisingly candid look at how a chip manufacturer went from a small barn powered by elbow-grease, to a massive plant filled with machines, even if some chips were lost in the process.
Give the video a look and let us know, does this video make you want to go out and buy a bag or skip the chips entirely? Let us know in the comments.