This Is Why Pringles Aren’t Really Potato Chips

Updated: Dec. 15, 2023

The parabola-shaped stackable snack has a lot in common with chips...but are they? Turns out, Pringles aren't officially chips. Here's the complicated international saga.

Savory, crispy and addictive, Pringles certainly seem to fit the description of potato chips. Turns out, though, Pringles aren’t chips at all—they’re crisps.

But first: every flavor of Pringles ever, ranked.

What Actually Is a Pringle?

Pringles are ingeniously designed: stackable, slim and dispensed in a sturdy container that prevents breakage. To make their uniform design, Pringles uses a special recipe, which doesn’t actually include potatoes. Instead, they’re made with something called “dehydrated processed potato.” They also contain corn, rice and wheat.

By contrast, potato chips are generally fairly straightforward: thinly sliced potatoes deep-fried or baked and salted.

The U.S. Government Weighed In…

The federal government actually stepped in to determine whether Pringles really were potato chips. In 1975, the FDA decided that the company could call Pringles “chips” only if they called out the dried potato ingredient. Instead, Pringles decided to use the term “crisps.”

There’s an Overseas Debate, Too

The British government also weighed in on the Pringles question. When Pringles began selling in the UK, they tried to dodge a tax that applies to junk foods like crisps (confusingly, all chips are called “crisps” in Britain, because “chips” are fries, so we’ll stick to the American terms for simplicity). Pringles tried to convince the court that they weren’t chips or crisps, because their shape “wasn’t found in nature.” The British court ruled that the potato-based ingredients in Pringles suffice to make them crisps.

Try these recipes featuring potato chips.

What’s in a Name?

Whether Pringles are chips, crisps or just a delicious junk food not found in nature, they’re certainly tasty. The brand dishes up fun flavors not normally seen in potato chips, like pizza and Reubens. Plus, their unique recipe makes them lighter and less greasy (meaning it’s easier to eat a whole can!).

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