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How Greasy Are Your Potato Chips?

Difficulty
Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues

Abstract

One of America's favorite snacks is potato chips. Although potato chips are very tasty, some varieties are not very healthy for you. A typical 1-ounce (oz.) serving of a well-known national potato chip brand contains 150 calories, 90 of which are from fat. How greasy are your favorite potato chips? Try this science fair project, and you'll get a visual understanding about how much oil a potato chip can hold.

Objective

To compare the greasiness of several varieties of potato chips.

Credits

Michelle Maranowski, PhD, Science Buddies

  • PringlesTM is a registered trademark of The Proctor & Gamble Company.
  • Lays® is a registered trademark of Frito-Lay, Inc.

Cite This Page

MLA Style

Science Buddies Staff. "How Greasy Are Your Potato Chips?" Science Buddies. Science Buddies, 15 Oct. 2014. Web. 25 Oct. 2014 <http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/FoodSci_p048.shtml>

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2014, October 15). How Greasy Are Your Potato Chips?. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/FoodSci_p048.shtml

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Last edit date: 2014-10-15

Introduction

Do you like to snack? Most people enjoy having a snack between lunch and dinner. One of the more popular snacks is potato chips. Potato chips come in a variety of tasty flavors, including salt and vinegar, jalapeno, and barbecue. It takes 10,000 pounds (lbs.) of potatoes, to make 3,500 lbs. of potato chips. The average person eats about 6 lbs. of potato chips a year.

It's actually pretty easy to make a potato chip from a potato. Simply cut the potato into thin slices, fry them in a deep fryer, drain the grease, and add salt. Some potato chips are not really potato chips at all. PringlesTM are an example of this. Pringles are made from potato flakes that are combined with rice flour to make potato dough. The dough is then shaped and fried. Since Pringles are not made only of potatoes, they are called potato crisps.

One thing that some people think about when buying potato chips and potato crisps is the amount of fat in them. Although eating fats is necessary for your body to function, eating too much fat is not good for you. Children older than 2 years old should get 30 percent of their daily calories from fat. Many people get more than that, which is why there are many kinds of reduced fat potato chips and potato crisps available in stores. In this cooking and food science fair project, you will investigate how much fat is in some typical potato chips and potato crisps products. You will take a look at four different kinds of chips and crisps: kettle-fried potato chips, baked potato chips, Pringles Original potato crisps, and Pringles Reduced Fat potato crisps. Have fun, but be sure not to not eat your science fair project before you are done!

Terms and Concepts

  • Fat
  • Calorie
  • Estimate

Questions

  • Can you estimate how many chips you and your friends eat in one week?
  • What is the difference between a potato chip and a potato crisp?
  • What is fat? Should people get rid of all the fat they eat?

Bibliography

For help creating graphs, try this website:

Materials and Equipment

  • Clean table
  • Graph paper
  • Clear tape
  • Four varieties of potato chips and crisps. Use the following: kettle chips; baked chips, such as baked Lays®; Pringles; and Reduced Fat Pringles.
  • Digital kitchen scale
  • Wax paper
  • Rolling pin
  • Timer
  • Lab notebook

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Experimental Procedure

  1. To start this science fair project, lay two pieces of graph paper together on the table. Try to match up the squares as best you can. Tape the pieces of graph paper together. Turn the graph paper over.
  2. Open the first bag of potato chips. Lay a piece of wax paper on the scale. Turn on the scale and place a handful of potato chips on the scale. Weigh the potato chips. Record the weight of the potato chips in your lab notebook. You should try to have between 0.5 oz. and 1 oz. of potato chips, so either add or remove some if your handful of chips isn't within that range.
  3. Now take the potato chips and mound them in the middle of the graph paper. Place a piece of clean wax paper on top of the chips. The wax paper should be about the same size as the graph paper.
  4. Carefully press down on the wax paper and crush the potato chips. Try to keep all of the potato chips and pieces in the center of the paper. Use the rolling pin to crush the chips into small pieces.
  5. Let the potato chips sit on the paper for 1 minute. After 1 minute has passed, put the wax paper and the potato chips into the trash. Try to remove all of the extra bits from the graph paper, too. Do you notice a grease stain on the graph paper? Tape the paper to a well-lit window so that you can see the stain clearly.
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 two more times so that you have a total of three trials for this bag of potato chips. Use the same weight of potato chips for each trial. Also, use new graph paper and fresh wax paper on the scale and on top of the potato chips. Let the stains hang on the window for 10 more minutes. Record your observations about the size of the grease stains in your lab notebook in a data table, like the one below. Count how many squares are covered in grease. You should also count squares that are only partially stained. Remember to record all of your data in your lab notebook. It is important to repeat experiments so you gather plenty of information.
  7. Repeat steps 1-6 for the other three varieties of potato chips and potato crisps. Be sure that you use the same weight of potato chips for all of the varieties. Also, use new graph paper and fresh wax paper on the scale and on top of the potato chips or potato crisps. Remember to record all of your data in your lab notebook.
  8. In your lab notebook, record the amount of fat per serving for each potato chip or potato crisp. This information is located either on the side or on the back of the bags or canisters. How does this information compare with the size of the grease stains?
  9. Plot your data. Label the x-axis Potato Chip Variety and Label the y-axis Size of Grease Stain. If you need help plotting, or would like to make your plots online, you can visit the following website: Create a Graph.
Variety of Potato Chip Fat per Serving Observations/ Number of Squares Covered with Grease
   Trial 1:
Trial 2:
Trial 3:
   Trial 1:
Trial 2:
Trial 3:
   Trial 1:
Trial 2:
Trial 3:

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Variations

  • Try doing this science fair project with several kinds of snack foods, such as pork cracklings, corn chips, and crackers.
  • With the help of an adult, try making your own potato chips. Are they more or less greasy than the store-bought ones? Can you find ways to make them less greasy?

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