What Snack Food Was Legally Barred from Calling Its Product "Chips"?
The snack food that was legally barred from calling its product "chips" was the Pringles potato crisps. The issue arose because Pringles were not made from whole potatoes and did not have the traditional shape and texture of potato chips, leading to a debate over whether they could legally be called "chips."
The debate over whether Pringles were legal "chips" or not began in the United Kingdom in the late 1990s. In 2002, Procter & Gamble, the parent company of Pringles, lost a legal battle in the UK Court of Appeal over whether Pringles could be considered a "crisp" for tax purposes. In the UK, potato chips (or crisps) are taxed at a higher rate than other savory snacks, such as popcorn or tortilla chips. Procter & Gamble argued that Pringles should not be considered potato chips because they contained only 42% potato flour and had a uniform shape that was not found in traditional potato chips.
However, the UK Court of Appeal ruled that Pringles did fall under the definition of potato chips, as they were made from potato flour and were intended to be consumed as a snack. As a result, Procter & Gamble was ordered to pay millions of pounds in back taxes.
In the United States, a similar debate over the classification of Pringles took place in the early 2000s. In 2008, a federal judge in Cincinnati, Ohio, ruled that Pringles could not be called "potato chips" because they did not contain enough potato content. The judge stated that Pringles were made from a mixture of wheat, corn, and potato starch and that their uniform shape and texture made them more like "a snack food or potato-based product" than a true potato chip.
The ruling had significant implications for Procter & Gamble, as the company had been paying a lower tax rate on Pringles as a result of them being classified as a "potato chip." However, the ruling did not prevent Procter & Gamble from selling Pringles in the US, and the company continued to market them as a snack food.
In response to the legal rulings in the UK and the US, Procter & Gamble changed the labeling on its Pringles cans to describe them as "potato crisps" instead of "potato chips." The company also made changes to the recipe for Pringles, increasing the potato content to comply with regulations in the UK and other countries.
In conclusion, the snack food that was legally barred from calling its product "chips" was the Pringles potato crisps. The debate over whether Pringles could be classified as potato chips or not arose due to their unique shape, texture, and potato content. The legal rulings in the UK and the US had significant implications for Procter & Gamble, as they affected the tax rate on Pringles and required changes to the product labeling and recipe.