I challenge you to ask friends which is their favourite flavour of “Pringles” and you will not find anyone who refuses to answer. Why, because everyone likes Pringles! They are an iconic American classic stackable crisps.
In the animated film “Over The Hedge” when RJ, the streetwise character voiced by Bruce Willis, opens a packet of Nacho Chips. Combined with a slow motion effect similar to the fallout of a nuclear explosion his audience breathes in the alluring scent: “Hammy“: [after RJ opens the packet] What is THHAAAT!? RJ: That, my friend, is a magical combination of corn flour, dehydrated cheese solids, BHA, BHT and good old MSG a.k.a. the Chip – Nacho Cheese flavour.
I often think that my reaction to Pringle’s “Paprika” and “Sour Cream and Onion” is similar. Have you opened a Pringles tube on a plane at cruising height? The expanded air inside the tube swells and the silver seal (first used in the 1980’s) becomes difficult to dislodge. Once it’s off your neighbours will enjoy the wonderful aroma that fills the air! “Once You Pop You Cannot Stop” – the early TV ads cautioned.
Pringles was developed by Procter & Gamble who launched the product in 1967. It is now owned by Kellogg’s (acquired May 2012 for $2.695bn) and holds fourth place in the US choice of snacks behind Lays, Doritos and Cheetos. The challenge for P&G was to develop the perfect chip. A chemist Frederic Baur between 1956 to 1958 developed the distinctive saddle shape and the foil-lined tube packaging with a plastic lid but failed to deliver the taste. Curiously, when Baur died in 2008 his family buried his cremated remains in a Pringle’s tube.
Alexander Liepa of P&G succeeded by revisiting Baur’s work and improved the taste.
The “Pringle” name is the subject of some debate. Idea 1. A Mark Pringle filed a patent for processing potatoes and his work was cited by P&G in their application. Idea 2 two P&G advertising guys lived in Pringle Drive Finneytown (Ohio, USA). Idea 3 P&G chose Pringle from the Cincinnati telephone directory.
I like the fact that the male feared on the packaging is known as “Julius Pringle”- he was first designed by Louis J Dixon.
Pringles are manufactured in Jackson, Tennessee, Belgium, Poland, Malaysia and China and have a truly world-wide market.
The US FDA questioned P&G’s use of “potatoes” in their packaging and prevented their use of “chips”. P&G used the alternative “crisps, which became a problem in the UK as “crisps” are a potato product and the potato content of Pringles is only 42%. In 2008 P&G’s lawyers successfully argued that Pringles were not “crisps” thus exempting them from VAT – this decision was overturned!
Pringles are available in a wide variety of flavours. In Europe we tend to see the Original, Sour Cream and Onion, Cheese and Paprika. In the US the audience seems more enthusiastic for Cajun, Buffalo Wings and Jalapeño, whilst the Asian market loves Crab, Shrimp and Sesame flavours.
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Images courtesy of Pringles/Kellogg’s