It Took a Court to Decide Whether Pringles Are Potato Chips

Chances are, you probably haven't given much thought to that can of Pringles other than wondering “How do I get the last few potato chips out of the tube without greasing up my arm?” As it turns out, the salty snack has quite a story. It once was in the middle of a massive controversy that questioned the ingredients and whether the chips were actually potato chips at all. The important thing to know is that in Britain most foods are exempt from what’s called a value-added tax, except for potato chips or "similar products made from the potato or from potato flour.” From 2007 to 2009, the makers of the "once-you-pop-you-can't-stop" chips stood in front of three different levels of the British judiciary trying to defend their claim that Pringles chips were not — by definition — potato chips. Procter & Gamble's initial argument was that Pringles weren't potato chips because they didn't contain enough potato in them to qualify as potato chips. In 2008, a lower British court agreed and ruled that Pringles were, in fact, not potato chips, mainly because they contained only 42% potato and had a shape not found in nature. Just a year later, a Court of Appeals re-examined and reversed that decision, calling Procter & Gamble's argument that the ingredients of a product don't define the product was "hogwash.” With that decision, the behemoth corporation had to pay $160 million in value-added taxes.