Yes, Pringles Are Potato Chips

Reversing an earlier decision, Britain’s Lord Justice Robin Jacob has ruled that Pringles are, indeed, potato chips. The decision means Pringles parent Procter & Gamble will be stuck paying $160 million in back taxes. P&G had insisted that the chips lack enough “potatoness” to qualify as a potato-based product (and be taxed as such), but the Judge disagreed, leaving it to philosophers and nutritionists to determine what exactly qualifies as the “essence of potato.” We kind of feel for P&G on this one. We love that crunch, and the way they stack so neatly in the can, but if we want real potatoes, a Pringle isn’t likely to be our first choice.

The Lord Justice Hath Ruled: Pringles Are Potato Chips [NYT]


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  1. mbz32190 says:

    Pringles are the farthest things from real potato chips IMO…they taste like poorly flavored balsa wood to me.

  2. Ozyman666 says:

    If I recall correctly, when they originally were introduced, the potato chip industry argued that they weren’t potato chips, since they weren’t sliced potatoes.

    • floraposte says:

      @Ozyman666: The standard is going to vary from country to country, though–and I suspect they’ll argue whichever way saves them the most money each time. Not that I blame them, but it can produce some amusing results.

    • 2 replies says:

      @Ozyman666: They’re considered potato “Crisps”
      Same as Munchos

      • HogwartsAlum says:



        Talk about a salt lick. I ate a small bag of Munchos a week ago and I’m still feeling it.

      • MsAnthropy says:


        But in the UK, they’re not… or at least, they weren’t, until Lord Justice Jacob made this ruling. Crisps is what we UK-ers call potato chips… so P&G’s whole argument (in the UK) was that Pringles weren’t crisps, they were “potato snacks” or whatever the hell it was they tried to call them. Then in the US they have to argue that they ARE “crisps”.

        See also: Jaffa Cakes, and McVities’ legal battle (which they won) to keep their classification as a cake rather than a biscuit (i.e. cookie) and foil the dastardly Inland Revenue and its taxation of chocolate-covered biscuits. []

  3. Sarah Black says:

    Because nothing says POTATO like Pizza Flavored Pringles (aka “Pizzalicious”)

    or Curry Flavored Pringles (available only in UK)…
    or Ketchup Pringles…
    or Chili Cheese Dog Pringles…
    or Paprika Pringles…

    Too bad they don’t still make Corn Pringles (sad)

    I am guessing when it all comes down to it, are they really “Corn Chips” or “Potato Chips”?

    • SpruceStreetPhil - in a new Pine flavor says:

      @SnowingCookies: now Baked Potato Flavored Pringles, those are on a whole new level of taste and irony

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @SnowingCookies: Best. Avatar. Ever. So cute!

    • Mr_Human says:

      @SnowingCookies: I would LOVE to try the curry pringles. I love curry.

    • xnihilx says:

      @SnowingCookies: Why does every other country get the “cool” flavors of food. I want curry Pringles. I also miss the gourmet Pringles. Anyone remember Jay’s Calypso chips?

    • CFinWV says:

      @SnowingCookies: I’m kind of glad the curry chips aren’t available here, I would have to visit the snack aisle if they were!

    • Sarah Black says:

      @SnowingCookies: OMG! I had no clue there really were much more than a few different flavors of Pringles! Just wow!!

      Bacon & Cheese Potato
      Bacon Ranch
      Cheesy Fries Potato Crisps
      Cheesy Quesadilla
      Cheez Ums
      Chili Cheese Potato Crisps
      Crunchy Dill Potato Crisps
      Curry Flavour Savoury Snack
      Extreme Blazin’ Buffalo Wing
      Extreme Kickin’ Cheddar
      Extreme Screamin’ Dill Pickle
      Fat Free Barbecue Potato Crisps
      Fiery Hot Potato Crisps
      Game Time Philly Cheesesteak
      Game Time Zesty Queso
      Honey Mustard
      Jalapeno Cheddar
      Loaded Baked Potato
      Orange Colored Crisps
      Pizza-licious Potato Crisps
      Prints Daytona 500
      Prints Guinness World Records 2006
      Prints Music Trivia
      Prints Trivial Pursuit
      Ranch-Rageous Flavored Potato Crisps
      Reduced Fat Original Potato Crisps
      Restaurant Cravers Cheesy Fries
      Restaurant Cravers Slow Cooked BBQ
      Ridges Original
      Salsa Potato Crisps
      Salsa Verde Potato Crisps
      Salt & Vinegar Potato Crisps
      Select Bold Crunch Jalapeno Ranch
      Select Bold Crunch Potato Cheddar Jack
      Select Bold Crunch Potato Southwestern Barbecue
      Select Cinnamon Sweet Potato Crisps
      Select Parmesan Garlic
      Select Sun Dried Tomato Potato Crisps
      Select Sweet Potato Honey Chipotle Barbecue
      Select Szechuan Barbecue Rice Crisps
      Smokey BBQ
      Smoky Bacon Potato Crisps
      Sour Cream ‘N Onion Potato Crisps
      Spicy Cajun Potato Crisps
      Spicy Guacamole
      Sweet Mesquite BBQ
      Thai Sweet Chili Potato Crisps
      White Cheddar Potato Crisps
      Wisconsin White Cheddar Potato Crisps

    • Tijil says:

      @SnowingCookies: Put me down as another who would love to sample Curry Pringles!

      To bad they don’t at least ship ’em to Vancouver, BC, Canada so I could slip over the border and smuggle some back to the ‘States.

      (There must be something distinctly habit forming in those curry spices – I can only go so long without them – and I’m half Swede, half Polack…)

  4. pervy_the_clown says:

    I saw Dill Pickle flavored Pringles. I gagged a little bit when I read that

  5. HiPwr says:

    We need a special tax for “similar products made from the potato, or from potato flour” here in the U.S. Every penny not taxed is a loss of revenue that our legislators can’t spend for our benefit. It’s a crying shame.

    • cabjf says:

      @HiPwr: They should add one for products with corn in them. It would offset all the subsidies the government already hands out to grow corn.

  6. Trencher93 says:

    Get the ISO involved, to define what a potato chip is.

    • fantomesq says:

      @Trencher93: Potato chip its not but I don’t know how anyone can argue with a straight face that it is not a potato based product.

    • s73v3r says:

      @Trencher93: Pringles are about 40% potato flour, which is why the lower, lower court originally decided that they fall under the definition of Potato Product in the law. Plus, in the US, they are marketed as Potato Chips.

  7. HiPwr says:

    I also like the NYT’s injection of Sonia Sotomayor into an article about British taxes on potato chips. What, no mention of George Bush or “torture memos”? Lazy NYT editorial board.

    • RandomHookup says:

      @HiPwr: It’s really an odd article choice as this is an opinion piece and not really a news article about the decision.

  8. TheRedSeven says:

    Most research firms (IRI, Nielsen, etc) consider them extruded snacks, along the same lines as Cheetos or Bugles. Interesting that the government taxes them differently…

  9. OGH!_GitEmSteveDave says:

    PringlezCat is in your tube, eating your chips and ruining your chances of making a WiFi antenna.

  10. Shappie says:

    How is it NOT a potato chip??

  11. Vanilla5 says:

    Yeah, I really wouldn’t consider them potato chips. Potato chip alternative maybe.

    What about those yummy Potato Skin snacks? I haven’t seen those in a while and they used to be my weakness. Are those considered potato chips?

  12. krispykrink says:

    Chips? Nah…. This is one case where I’ll use the proper UK phrasing and call them “crisps” or maybe processed potato product. Definitely not chips.

    • floraposte says:

      @krispykrink: Pringles were arguing that they weren’t potato crisps, though. The American news sources are merely translating “crisps” to “chips.”

      • MsAnthropy says:


        Yeah, trying to report it in the US is where it gets confusing. “P&G argues that a Pringle is not a potato crisp (although in the US, that’s exactly what they argue a Pringle IS), by which they mean it’s not a potato chip. Lord Justice Jacob begs to differ, and has ruled that a Pringle is, in fact, a chip. Except that’s obviously not what he said, as that would make it a french fry. Um, potato-based salted snack, anyone?”

  13. bombhand says:

    @Mr_Human: Lays used to make curry potato chips. They tasted delicious but I guess people were too weirded out to buy them and now you can’t find them anywhere.

    • floraposte says:

      @bombhand: Probably can in Britain, though, since that’s a fairly common flavor there. It’s fascinating how comparatively conservative the US is on potato-chip flavors. Oh, looks like the Wikipedia article has quite a bit on flavors, too: []

    • c_c says:

      Try Trader Joe’s tandoori flavored papadums. Yum yum.

    • jamar0303 says:

      @bombhand: And yet, here in China, Lay’s makes lemon and blueberry-flavored potato chips. And they’ve been making them for two beepin’ years. Ewww. But somehow the locals like them. I think they’ve been brainwashed- blueberry and potato just do not mix.

  14. WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

    Kind of funny to sit here watching a chip manufacturer actually try to argue that their product does NOT qualify as what they are clearly trying to pass as.

    It would be kind of like Sunny D arguing in court that they should not at all be considered orange juice, even though they’re clearly trying to be a barely passable version.

  15. lannister80 says:

    Thin —– check
    Crunchy —– check
    Salty —– check
    Potato-based —– check

    What the hell else would it be classified as? Of course it’s a potato chip!

    • cmdrsass says:

      @lannister80: many french fry varieties also fit that description such as waffle fries and shoestring french fries. Hash browns do too, depending on how they’re cooked. A potato chip is very different from a potato crisp. Pringles are not potato chips and are not pretending to be.

    • 2 replies says:

      @lannister80: By that definition, fast-Food french fries left under your car seat for a decade (long enough to shrivel and dry to a snapping consistency) become potato chips.

      Calling Pringels, Munchos, or any other reconstituted potato CRISP, a potato CHIP is like insisting a hamburger is a steak.
      They’re potato ‘crisps’

  16. PLATTWORX says:

    I agree, I was suprised mostly to read that P&G was trying to prove Pringles lack “potatoness”, when the product is sold next to chips. I though they wanted you to think of them as a potatoe product. Hmmm…

  17. Russ Savage says:

    of course it’s a potato chip.. what a ridiculous argument.

  18. econobiker says:

    Manufactured potato chips versus naturally processed.

    end of story

  19. savdavid says:

    Can you imagine their ads now? “Our potato chips don’t have the essence of potatoes nor or they chips! Why, they are just Pringles, a brand name for something shaped kinda like a chip.”

  20. JDAC says:

    This kind of thing has happened before in british courts. Witness the great “is it a cake or a biscuit” that also wasted time and money: []

    Cake or cookie? I don’t care, they’re still delicious!

  21. rushevents says:

    funny thing there is a frost warning in Upstate NY for tonight; June first.

    DARN that Global Warming!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. fantomesq says:

    A google serach for Pringles brings back the first result:

    Fun information site from the maker of Pringles potato chips.

    Pringle’s own website declares them to be potato chips…

    Also from a trademark sense, you can’t call them just Pringles. Proper trademark usage has to be Pringles something – Pringles potato chips, Pringles potato crisps, Pringle balsa wood chips – or else they risk genericism and losing trademark rights – think Kleenex or Rollerblades.

  23. MooseOfReason says:

    I really like Pringles, but I stopped eating them when I read the ingredients section and saw the partially hydrogenated oils and MSG.


  24. thomas_callahan says:

    Mmm… 170 grams of curry-flavored potato “product”…

    Seriously, mmm, I don’t care if they are Pringles, in curry flavor I’d probably like them.

    But the Pringles UK site doesn’t list them. They do list “prawn” flavor though.

  25. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Pfft. Labels.

  26. 2 replies says:

    IMO, they’ll always be “crisps”.
    Calling them ‘chips’ just because other similar products (that ARE true slices of potato) look kinda similar and are sold in the same area doesn’t make it a chip.

    If you have a solid block of marble and knock a CHIP off of it, you get a smaller piece separated from the original. That’s a CHIP.
    But it’s not a CHIP if the whole block was crushed up, and a small piece was created by cementing the pulverized gravel into a conglomerate mass.

    Just as a snowball is not just a rounded ice-cube.
    Just as a hamburger, or a hotdog is not a steak.
    Just as IKEA sells cheap compressed particle-board, not real hardwood furniture.

    The argument? Yeah, it’s stupid. But only because the politicians are just trying to F with classifications in order to try to kludge together a fix for their stupid tax loophole.
    Taxing foodstuffs based on the classification is the real retarded issue at hand.
    If you’re going to be greedy, and want to target spuds
    just f’in tax all potato “products”.

  27. Corporate_guy says:

    They are made from a potato dough, they are not potato chips.

    • fantomesq says:

      @Corporate_guy: Right but they ARE potoato-based products, which is what the British determination is.

      • Corporate_guy says:

        @fantomesq: Yea, nothing is ever clear on it. If a cracker made from potato dough counts, then pringles counts. If they are saying it only counts because it has some potato in it and it is marketed the same as a chip, then their is a problem. They either tax the ingredients or they don’t. I doubt their rules are clear, since the company thought they could get out of paying it.

  28. subtlefrog says:

    I welcome our potato…product overlords.

    Not that they’re exactly new. I just never knew what to call them before.

  29. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    BTW, where are the kitteh flavored chips like in the picture on the main page?

  30. edosan says:

    Forget the rest of the article, my superhero name is going to be “Lord Justice.”

  31. macinjosh says:

    Man, in Fred Baur knew about this, he’d be rolling in his Pringles can.

  32. Loren Fisher says:

    As far as I am concerned, the government should tax any company that makes junk food, potato chips, crips, chocolate or otherwise!

    And give hefty tax breaks to any company that offers healthier alternatives.

  33. mxjohnson says:

    Who cares?

    Whatever you call them, chips or crisps or cheechees, the real issue is the new formula. “Now even crispier!” the packaging says. What they mean is, they’ve switched to corn oil, and changed how they cook ’em, because Pringles now have less fat than they used to. And less sodium, too. Because hey, when you want less fat and salt in your diet, you reach for Pringles.

    My son and I, are we the only ones who hate the new Pringles? They’ve only been on the shelves maybe six, eight weeks now.

    They’re so bad they don’t even taste good in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

    They’re so bad, I wouldn’t even eat them at the beach.

  34. consumerd says:

    Didn’t Proctor & gamble lose a lawsuit to lays stating that they couldn’t call their chips potato chips because they were not?

    I remember watching something on TV where P&G lost a lawsuit on this from Lays potato chips back then.

    They couldn’t call them potato chips on the can as a result.

  35. gigandum says:

    “A spokeswoman for Pringles’ manufacturer Procter & Gamble Co. said the company has been paying the tax protectively and so does not owe the taxman.” []

  36. Bs Baldwin says:

    P&G is just not having any luck in the courts with Pringles. First in the US they aren’t considered chips, but now in the UK they are.

  37. stands2reason says:

    Moral of the story: stop with the BS taxes, especially the junk food / health / “sin” tax, and just tax everything equally for God’s sake!