Introduction: In 1853, a frustrated chef created a twist from french fries in hopes of satisfying an unhappy customer. This man, George Crum, did not expect for his creation to please his customer, but it did. That customer tried the first ever Saratoga Chip, later called the potato chip. (George Crum: Inventor of Potato Chips).Today, potato chips are one of America’s most popular snacks. These snacks come in all flavors and all different styles and brands. Even so, they are also one of the first foods that are removed from a diet when trying to eat healthy. It is pretty common knowledge that potato chips are unhealthy for those who eat them more than just occasionally, but how unhealthy are they for the environment? This paper will focus on the many effects that can come from eating a bag of chips and how and why they’ve become more and more popular over time. It will also focus in on two specific effects of overconsumption of these snacks, health risks and environmental risks.
History of Potato Chips: After their creation in 1835, Saratoga Chips quickly picked up in popularity. They became also referred to as potato crunches and were packaged to sell in New England. This new success allowed Crum to get his own restaurant and focus on whatever he desired. After 42 years, potato chips became similarly popular in Ohio. Chips were manufactured and marketed in Cleveland by a man named William Tappendon. About another 40 years later, potato chips became popular in southern United States as well. Herman Lay began making potato chips and selling them from his car. Shortly after, in 1926, Laura Scudder invented a wax paper potato chip bag to keep the chips fresh and crunchy.(George Crum: Inventor of Potato Chips) This made the snack more convenient and even more desirable. Potato chips became even more popular after they became even easier to get. We can follow the history of the potato chip through the many different companies that have sold them and continue to sell them to this day. First, let’s focus on the brand that most people think of when they think of potato chips, Lay’s. Just like George Crum, Herman W. Lay changed his life due to the popularity of chips. By 1938, Mr. Lay started a company to form H.W. Lay and Company. By 1944 this company became Lay’s Potato Chips and was the first snack food to ever be advertised on television. In 1962 Lay’s was introduced to Canada and from 1997 and on Lay’s has officially been the nation’s favorite potato chip(“About Us”). This company now offers more than 22 different flavors of chips and can be found in just about any gas station, grocery or convenience store. The company has expanded to more and more countries as time progressed and is now considered worldwide. Another more well known brand of Potato Chips is the Kettle Brand’s potato chips. This company had a later start than did Lay’s however they are distinct because they advertise as the healthier alternative. This company started in 1982 and in a vehicle. They started off selling nuts and other natural snacks. Once they perfected the potato chip, this became a new popular item for them, and like others before them, allowed the company to expand. Kettle Brand is now amongst the many popular potato chip brands. They have many different flavors and different flavors and now have different lines of potato chips such as the Krinkle Cut Variety, Kettle Brand’s Organic Chips, and Kettle Brand Baked Potato Chips.
The first viewpoint from which we’ll examine potato chips is from a health viewpoint. It is very well known that potato chips are not a healthy snack. The process in which they are made, by frying potato slices and adding salt easily points out what is unhealthy about eating potato chips. The overconsumption of fried foods such as potato chips is unhealthy because they are rich in trans fats which cause a raise in bad cholesterol while reducing good cholesterol. Most potato chips are also really high in salt. Constant high intake of sodium can lead to many negative health effects such as high blood pressure or kidney disease. Besides having a few negative effects, most potato chips also have little to no significant nutritional benefits. Although potatoes themselves have several health benefits, frying them strips away these nutrients. (Ipatenco1) This is what causes potato chips to be such an unhealthy snack that could definitely cause some health issues if they are eaten too regularly. Aside from being very tasty and yet unhealthy, many studies have suggested that salty foods such as potato chips also have an addictive quality. Many studies show that salt releases dopamine which controls the brain’s pleasure center and craves more and more (Laliberte 1). Another major way in which potato chips affect us in on a less personal and more environmental scale. Packaged food and the disposal of this packaging leads to severe damage to the environment through use of plastic and animal entanglement or consumption of the packaging. This wrongful disposal of food packaging can be witnessed in neighborhood parks or beaches as a result of litterers tossing the remains of their favorite snacks out in public. “The creation and transportation of each bag also produces 10.6 ounces of CO2e, greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming as much as carbon dioxide does.” (Waugh 1) This means that not only does the disposal of these bags cause harm but their creation does as well. In order to create these bags at the rate needed by giant companies, a large amount of Energy is needed as well. “Eating a single bag of potato chips uses approximately 137 gallons of water, equivalent to the water used in a 50 minute shower.” The biggest issue with unhealthy snacks is that they are the most widely available, especially more than fresh fruits and veggies. Advertisement strategies such as television, billboards and even radio commercials lure consumers into craving these unhealthy options more and more frequently. This causes a continuous unhealthy cycle of overeating food that supplies little to no nutrients while at the same time damaging one’s own body as well as the environment. The cost of potato chips has proven to be quite high. The first reason many people think of letting go of constantly consuming potato chips is because they are watching their figure or simply trying to be more healthy. These are very good reasons to limit your consumption of unhealthy foods. It is still very crucial that the other costs of consuming these products be considered as well. It seems that individuals have more motivation to make changes in their life when they are directly being impacted rather than when they are impacting the community around them. It is crucial that the environmental impact of all things be considered.