We’ve all been there. We get a delicious bag of chips that isn’t exactly all that cheap and open it up to find that the damn thing is less than half empty. Yeah, you know the deal. Great big puffy bag, but when you open it up and look inside, it’s nearly empty. What gives? Why all the useless air? Are we getting ripped off, or is there an actual reason for the air? Well, there actually is a good reason for it, and the air isn’t the type of air that you might be thinking it is. The air in potato chip bags is actually nitrogen.
Alright, I know. Nitrogen actually makes up the vast majority of the air that we breathe, so technically nitrogen as the air in potato chip bags is still air. But surely you must be wondering why just nitrogen? Why not just fill the bags with normal air like the stuff we breathe filled with all other gases? Well it all comes down to preservation.
You know how when you buy a bag of chips it has a date printed on the bag that indicates when they will no longer be optimum to consume? Well, have you ever wondered why once the packet is opened the chips inside don’t last all that long? I mean, in general if they haven’t all been eaten that day they go stale and taste just awful. The reason for this is the oxygen in the air causes the chips to go stale. Eventually, the oxygen will cause the food to go completely rancid. Replace the oxygen with a safe gas, such as nitrogen, and the food will remain good.
There are lots of food that have the oxygen removed to preserve them. Foods such as beef jerky are not only salted to a point where nothing could possibly survive, but they are also vacuum sealed to help preserve the product. In fact, there are lots of foods that use vacuum sealing to prolong the shelf life. But this is something that you just can’t do with chips, and for a good reason. If you try to vacuum seal chips you will be left with nothing more than crushed up crumbs in the bottom of the bag.
If you try to vacuum seal chips you will be left with nothing more than crushed up crumbs in the bottom of the bag. No one would want that. Filling a potato chips bag with nitrogen will ensure that there is no oxygen, or as little as possible to prevent it from going bad.