Since the 1960s, Lays has been taunting Americans by betting that we "can't eat just one" of their delicious potato chips. And they're right! Something about this salty snack makes them totally irresistible, and it's hard to make a bag last more than a week in my house.
If you suffer from 'hedonic hyperphagia,' or the intense desire to keep eating chips when you're full, you're not alone. The average American scarfs down 4 bags of potato chips per year (which is a lot). But are these treats really addictive?
Scientists have mapped the brains of rodents who are fed potato chips, and compared them to animals on a strict diet. They found that munching on chips regularly can rewire your brain like a drug addict, creating intense cravings.
In fact, potato chips are more addictive than other salty treats with the same calories, and that's not by accident. Experts working for food companies have worked tirelessly to make hyperpalatable chips - which is a fancy way of saying that you'll eat a whole bag while watching TV before you even realize it.
Everything from the chip's look to its sound has been engineered to hook you the moment the bag is opened.
Click the next page to learn how they make the perfect chip!
It turns out that there's more to food than the way it tastes. Take the crunch a potato chip makes when you bite down on it. Research actually shows that the louder the crunching sound, the more you enjoy the chip. To give you your money's worth, companies design their snacks to be extra loud.
Food makers have also crunched the numbers and found that chips should break under exactly 4 pounds/square inch of pressure, to feel crisp and crunchy but not chewy. But the most important quality of all is the flavor of your chip.
Your mind notices a "burst" of flavor when the first potato chip hits your tongue. Finding the right combination of salt, fat, and sugar to hook you from this moment is the ultimate goal.
Designers even change the look and "mouthfeel" of your chips so they look and feel as alluring in real life as they do on the TV commercials. Let's not forget to mention additives like MSG, which trick your brain into thinking you're eating something more filling.
If you thought potato chips were bad, Cheetos are the most engineered snack of all. The bite-sized orange pieces melt on your tongue, so you brain is convinced that you're not actually eating anything!
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