Potato chips are purposely packaged with extra space to act as a cushion and keep them from being crushed during handling. But it actually isn’t oxygen that is taking up so much space in the bags – it is nitrogen, the gas that makes up 78% of the air we breathe. Nitrogen remains stable around other chemicals, which makes it a useful preservative. On the other hand, oxygen reacts with nearby substances. If potato chip bags were filled with oxygen, the potatoes and the oil in the chips would end up becoming soggy from the humidity and they would eventually spoil.
More about potato chips:
- Potato chips are the most popular American snack food and make up an estimated 40% of all snacking.
- Potato chips are thought to have been invented in 1853 by George Crum, a chef who sarcastically sliced his potatoes very thin after a customer complained about overly-thick French fries.
- During World War II, potato chips were named an essential food by the United States government and were often one of the only ready-to-eat vegetable products available.