sharing crisps

What’s a snack? The OED defines it thus: a small amount of food eaten between meals. Trouble is, there’s no real consensus on how big a snack can be before it becomes not a snack, but a pig-out. The European Snacks Association says an ‘adequate and reasonable’ portion is 30g, yet some single bags (including Tyrrells, Kettle Chips and Pringles) can be 40g. A Walkers Grab Bag is 60g.

No wonder consumers are confused. Just 15% of Brits can correctly identify that there are five portions in a typical 150g sharing bag of crisps and 28% can identify that a 190g tube of Pringles contains six, according to a Harris Interactive poll for The Grocer. Worryingly, 8% believe 150g is a single portion of crisps and 6% say a whole tube of Pringles is.

This might help explain why 31% of consumers say they binge on crisps – that is, wolf down an entire sharing bag to themselves in one sitting – at least once a fortnight, with that number rising to 43% of Brits aged 25 to 34. But ignorance over portion sizes isn’t the only explanation; show me someone who says they never knowingly overindulge in a food or drink and I’ll show you a liar.

It’s our right to pig out as and when we choose. It would be a dismal world indeed if the nanny state were to impose on us how big a bag of crisps should be – and that move has been mooted in the past. But brands could be doing more to silence those who would support such drastic measures.

Finding the recommended portion size on a tube of Pringles or sharing bag of Kettle Chips can feel a bit like playing ‘Where’s Wally?’. Forty five per cent of the 2,046 people Harris polled for us believe brands should make it clearer how many portions a sharing bag contains. I agree.