It was during my time as a student at The University of Birmingham that I discovered Pringles. They made a tasty snack, which my mate and me would enjoy whilst watching late night TV or playing PlayStation games. Usually Tekken 2.

More importantly than their value as a foodstuff, Pringles come in a fantastic piece of packaging. A cardboard tube around a foot long, lined with substantial foil, one end of the container is metal and at the other is a removable plastic cap. It is specially designed to have a diameter large enough to allow entry for the hands of children and female adults, but too narrow for an adult male to penetrate. This forced us to tip the contents into a dish and eat them from there. However, it seemed a real shame to simply discard the packaging.

Another use had to be found.

Fortune was on our side as we both knew of another feature of that household that went unused. It was time to combine the two items so they could finally realise their full potential. We approached the gas cooker, experimented for an hour or two and came up with this.

Equipment: 1 box of matches, one Pringles tube, 1 gas cooker. 1 fire extinguisher recommended.

Note: This is easiest with two people.

Step 1: Assess the value of your life and the lives of those around you. Make an informed decision as to how much you are willing to risk them. This could be dangerous.

Step 2: Make a small hole through the side of the Pringles tube around an inch from the metal base. This should have a similar diameter to a biro.

Step 3: Prop open all doors between you and the outside world so you can get out of the building quickly.

Step 4: Remove the plastic lid from the Pringles tube.

Step 5: Invert the tube so that the open end covers one of the hobs on your gas cooker.

Step 6: Place your thumb over the hole by the other end of the tube and keep it there.

Step 7: Turn on the gas supply to the covered hob. Do not light it.

Step 8: Wait for around five seconds for the tube to fill with gas and then turn off the supply.

Step 9: Quickly replace the plastic lid, keeping the tube inverted until it is secured.

Step 10: Recommended, though not essential: Take the gas filled tube outside.

Step 11: Hold the tube horizontally at arm's length with the small hole pointing down and with the plastic lid pointing away from people, animals and fragile objects.

Step 12: Remove thumb from hole.

Step 13: Strike a match and hold it to the hole.

That's all there is to it, really. We had a lot of fun experimenting with the size of the hole. We found that if you made the hole too small the gas could not burn fast enough and you'd get a poor effect. It would not create enough force to blow the lid off the tube, but would just burn outwards through the small hole. When we made the hole too large we got a similar effect and a large flame out of the small hole. At one specific size, which we failed to recreate, it actually whistled and threw sparks out.

However, when you get it right you can expect to get a small explosion that blows the plastic lid off the end of the tube and produces a flame up to two feet long.

We never hurt ourselves or broke anything doing this, even when we started off indoors, but I would advise you take care if you decide to try it yourself.

Ah, Pringles. One of the college foodgroups, along with Ramen, soda, and Swedish Fish. But of what, exactly, are these crunchy wonders comprised? And why do they have such unusual chip-viscosity?
Facts according to the pretty little 50gram (1 3/4 oz) can in front of me:

Ingredients! Dried potatoes, vegetable oil (contains one or more of the following: corn oil, cottonseed oil, and/or sunflower oil), malodextrin (from corn), and dextrose (from corn)

Hmn. The Latin prefix 'mal' means 'bad', right? So 'mal'dextrin...hmn...must be some bad corn.
This contents of the happy little can leave the consumer with an extra 290 calories, 180 from fat. Altogether there are twenty grams of fat (remember, the 'net weight' is only 50 grams), five of these saturated. No cholesterol! Yippee! 330 mg of sodium - not bad compared to Ramen. 26g carbs. 2 grams protein and 'dietary fiber', 8% vitamin C (?), and 2% iron. And all of this based on a 2,000 calorie diet....
So let's see. 20+26+2+2 = 50. Very well. In other words, 40% of my Pringles are fat. Yum.
Now don't get me wrong - I love Pringles. I think Pringles are great. And to all you people at Procter & Gamble, in Cincinnati Ohio, good job. Thank you for making your cans out of recycled material. I really appreciate it. I couldn't justify eating them otherwise. "Quiet, dieticians! They're recyclable!"
To eat or not to eat?
Thoughts of a salty mind in a greasy season.

The Pringles Chips*- A neo-fascist representation?


Have you ever wondered of the social implications junk food has on our world? You may laugh at the concept, but these tasty treats influence our political views as much as our tastebuds. The focus of today: The round-faced smiling Pringles man.
The visage has been on the front of of pringles chips for years. Does it represent a jocular figure merely cheered by the sight of potato chips? Or does this icon represent a darker view? By manipulating the image and changing the nature of Mr. Pringles' face, we can see that, if the mustache is trimmed a bit, an uncanny resemblance to an early fascist 20th century dictator is revealed.
To a reasonable mind, this fact is definitely a quaint coincidence. Many cartoon figures can be altered to look like public figures (Batman - Janet Reno, Rurouni Kenshin - Yngwie Malmsteen, etc). Yet there is more compelling information about the pringles chips.
Most of the chips inside the round container are exactly the same; coinciding with Hitler's view of the ideal human. In direct contrast, the ones that do not represent the ideal image are crushed and at the bottom of the can. The basic structure of the can is designed to keep the chips looking alike, while ensuring that any different ones are sent straight down.
Are the makers of pringles chips attempting to influence our minds with Naziist information, or is this just a complete waste of the writers' time (no comments needed here)? Decide for yourself.

Fight Neo-Naziism! See How to make a bong out of a Pringles tube
Got a can of Pringles handy? Take one out and look at it. You wouldn't expect there to be much of interest about a potato crisp besides the taste (and with most varieties of Pringles, even that's debatable). However, the Pringle is special. Little. Yellow. Different. Mathematical.

The shape of a Pringle is the surface of a hyperboloid (or maybe a paraboloid, I dunno) of two sheets bounded by an elliptical cylinder. This shape gives the Pringle strength to survive shipment and uniformity to stack a lot of them into a little can. If someone would like to take some measurements and derive some equations, you can put them here. If you'd rather build stuff with them, please read on.

One day, I constructed what I christened simply The Pringle Thing. I took a bunch of Pringles and started stacking them up, overlapping them for support, until they formed a freestanding hollow tube. This required no adhesive or external support of any kind. I have photographic evidence, honest!

The Pringle's two axes have different curvatures; the short axis has a more pronounced curvature than the long axis. So far, I've only used the short axis to build the Thing, making a longer but squatter tube, but it seems possible (and I encourage this!) to construct a taller one on the long axis, also with no external support.

I wonder what other constructions are possible with this versatile snack?

Why are they popular? Why are they addictive? Because you are evolved to love them.

Pringles contain (In descending order of significance in the composition):

Dehydrated potatoes
Basically, starch.
Vegetable Oil
Corn flour
More starch. The kind that easily breaks down into sugar.
Flavouring
Contains many things, but includes sugar and flavour enhancers Monosodium Glutamate and possibly disodium guanylate depending on the flavour.
Gluten-free Wheat starch
Maltodextrin
Sugary goodness.
Salt
Dextrose
Another sugar.

So why are you Mr. Pringles' bitch? Because you are evolved to want foods that give you energy. Now. Don't wait - it might be gone later! All of the ingredients above are prime sources of energy. Fat is pretty much the best taste ever for humans, and sugar is pretty top too. You also need those more complex carbohydrates, the starches, for longer-term energy. Salt is nature's flavour enhancer, and a vital component in your diet. Hard to come by when you don't live near the sea. Those of you who have a "no protein with carbohydrate" diet can rest assured that with less than 0.3% protein, Pringles won't ruin your child's stuntedness!

With pringles giving you all the kinds of energy-bearing food you need, your instincts are telling you that you want them, as when winter sets in, who can tell where the next Big Mac is going to come from?

The year was 1968. Vince Lombardi had led the Green Bay Packers to their 2nd Super Bowl appearance. "Just hit, just run, just block, and just tackle," he told his team before Super Bowl II. They went on to rout the American Football League champion Oakland Raiders 33-14. James Anderson, Jr. became the first black Marine awarded a Medal of Honor. He died cradling a grenade like it was a child to shield the rest of his platoon from the blast. "His personal heroism, extraordinary valor, and inspirational supreme self-sacrifice reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps," Lyndon B. Johnson said. That December, Elvis Presley made his triumphant return to the concert stage with the televised '68 Comeback Special. Steve Binder, the director of the special, said that Elvis "had the attitude of, this is our little window of opportunity to do something that he'd been yearning to do for a long time," and gave it all he could - practically living on the set! - and the results were spectacular. The debut was the highest rated show in 1968, and the show become an essential part of the Presley legacy, putting his career back on track.

1968 was a year of personal triumphs and a true testament to the human spirit. We'll probably never see a year like that again, and nowhere did the indomitable energy of that year make its mark more powerfully than in the potato chip industry. This was when all the major food, drink, and toiletry producers were expanding their empires. They bought up every minor producer they could, turning the "fast moving consumer goods" sector into an oligarchy. Procter & Gamble (P&G), already the inventor and owners of lucrative brands like Ivory soap, Tide detergent, Crest toothpaste, Downy fabric softener, and Pampers diapers, was looking for a way to it expand its presence in the potato chip industry, which was dominated by Frito-Lay (a division of PepsiCo). One of P&G's scientific researchers, Alexander Liepa, uncovered the dusty, decade-old efforts of chemist Fredric Baur, and was inspired.

Back in the late 1950s, Baur had been asked by P&G to ditch his lab coat for an apron and to create the perfect potato chip in their kitchen laboratory, which was a sterile, white-walled room with cold tiles and all the latest in stainless steel appliances. His final design for the chip was a double-saddle shaped fried crisp made from a rice, potato and wheat-based dough. Making the chips from dough rather than potato slices not only made the chips less greasy, it allowed the shape of all the chips to be uniform. And that was important, because the whole purpose of the double-saddle shape was to make the chips stackable so that they could be sold in the airtight tube-shaped containers Baur had designed to prevent the chips from breaking when they were transported.

There was only one problem with Baur's new chips. They tasted too plain. Ultimately, after a year of unsuccessful efforts to fix the problem, P&G stopped all work on Baur's chips and reassigned Baur to other, less important projects. However, Baur's experiments fascinated Liepa, and Liepa decided it was worth seeing if there could still be a way to make the chips taste good. On August 6, 1968, Liepa came up with a recipe that made the durable chips flavorful, too. Human ingenuity had won the day again, triumphing over the odds. The chips were named Pringles, and Baur's red, tube-shaped container, which was his monumentum aere perennius ("a monument more lasting than bronze"), showed up in selected stores across the country later that year.

I'd like to say that Pringles was an immediate success, but that isn't entirely true. The texture and taste of Pringles confused consumers at first, who were used to traditional potato chips. Then the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, won over by a lawyers hired by competing potato chip manufacturers, determined that P&G couldn't legally call Pringles potato chips because they weren't made from potato slices. They had to be called "potato chips made from dried potatoes", and it was determined that "the last four words must appear on the can in type at least half as large as the words potato chip" (to quote an old Time magazine article on the subject).

But those were all just speed bumps for the mighty Pringles potato chip. By 1975, Pringles had captured a remarkable 1/6 of the potato chip market, and their popularity has never really let up since. It's like a revolution that never ends. Today, more than a billion dollars worth of Pringles are sold yearly. Like the slogan says, "once you pop, you just can't stop." The hyperbolic paraboloid shape of the chips was refined for production and aesthetic purposes in the 1990s using IBM supercomputers, making the chip just that much more irresistible.

There's one last thing worth discussing. There are some who say that the face of the mustachioed mascot on the Pringles can reminds them of Big Brother from 1984, whom George Orwell described as looking like "the face of a man of about forty-five, with a heavy black mustache and ruggedly handsome features." I don't buy the connection or even understand what it could mean, but to each their own, I guess. All I know is that I love Pringles. Pringles are great. Baur's ashes were put in a Pringles can (a 100% fact). I dream of Pringles. And if there came a day when I couldn't eat Pringles, I'd be very, very depressed. And angry. Very angry. I need Pringles.

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