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Why You Can't Eat Just One Potato Chip—Revealed!

Sure, potato chips taste amazing, but that's not why it's so challenging to put the bag down.

There's a reason you can't just have one potato chip. We all know once you start munching away on the crispy snack, it is really hard to stop. And it doesn't even have to do with the taste of the potato chips either.

That's right, the reason you find them so addicting is all because another one of your senses goes into overload. We break it down for you and why once you stop, the fun—the food—doesn't stop.

Why is it impossible to eat only one potato chip?

It's all because of the sound potato chips make.

One study, referred to as the "sonic chip," discovered that the crunch sound that inevitably occurs as your teeth crush something crispy is an important part of a food's desirability factor. People associate the loudness of a crunch with the freshness of the food.

The study, which won the IgNobel Prize in 2008, involved 20 participants, each of which were asked to assess the freshness of 180 Pringles chips. For context, that's about two tubes worth of potato chips. The two lead researchers had all of the participants wear headphones so that they could manipulate how loud each participant heard the crunching noise.

The result? The louder the participants heard the crunch, the more they perceived it as crispier and fresher and, as a result, more desirable. While this addictive cue is subconscious, sound plays a big role in our overall enjoyment of everything we eat.

Think about it: Anyone who has eaten a stale chip knows that no matter how well it's flavored, it loses most of its appeal when the crunchiness is gone. Think of how disappointing it is to bite into a chip that simply breaks apart in your mouth without a satisfying crunch. And it's not just chips either. The same goes for any kind of food—from fresh produce like a red bell pepper to packaged goods like salty pretzels. When biting into a crisp apple or a crunchy potato chip, we associate the subsequent loud noise with its freshness, which makes it all the more appetizing.

Another more recent collection of studies published in the journal Appetite discovered something very similar. Participants among these studies were more likely to consume more chips (and candy) if the bag was labeled as crunchy. The studies also revealed that people were apt to eat more chips when the sound of the crunch wasn't inhibited by headphones. Essentially, marketing and the auditory perception of the noshing on crunchy chips increases enjoyment, which makes one more likely to eat more.

It's no wonder you can't just eat one single potato chip. Think of how crunchy and satisfying it is so snack on them—and now you know why.

The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the former news editor of Eat This, Not That! Read more about Cheyenne
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