Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Can vs The Bag

Last night my friends came over with a huge thing of "special" brownies, and eating them got me thinking a lot about chips in a canister, and chips in a bag. At first glance the only difference seems to be the packaging, but like anything else you have to take a deeper look. Bags have very weak packaging, which would make the canister the antithesis of the bag, since the canister has its hard exterior to protect it. This would be a positive thing because there would be fewer crumbs in a canister. Internally there are many similarities between the canister and the bag. They are very similar when it comes to the nutritional facts, serving sizes and texture. However there is something very different about cans and bags, something almost intangible.
Initial evaluation had the canister coming out on top- the canister, in being the more efficient use of space, seems to contain more product. On further preponderance, however, I must include that "seat of the pants" testing indicates that the chip product in a canister seems to deplete more rapidly. It may be that there is actually less product in a canister. Also I think that freshness would be a huge plus for the canister. It is very easy to lock in freshness when all that you have to do is put the lid on your chips. It is a lot more difficult to do this with a bag. They do make clips for bags, but they do not come standard with a bag of chips, and unless you are a boy scout, you might not always have one handy with you when you need one. Nobody likes a stale chip.
My hypothesis is that, due to the strictly regimented order of the chips, their depletion can be more readily and accurately observed. So every handful makes marked damage to the remaining quantity of chips. Chips in a canister are compact. The fact that they are all neatly stacked and put in a position for optimal storage capacity might actually be a negative in American society. In our culture, bigger is better, and for the most part it is quantity over quality. Chips in a bag would seem a lot more appealing as the better buy because there would be the perception of more.
The stacked nature of the canister chip makes it easier to grab more. Sometimes when reaching for a handful of chips in a bag, you do your best to get a lot and only end up with a few. This would be in the canister’s favor in a perfect world, but the fact is a bag of chips seems to last longer. The fact that they are all neatly stacked and put in a position for optimal storage capacity might actually be a negative. While absent mindedly-eating chips during a movie I would prefer a bag because I would eat less during the movie, and feel less sick after it is over; large quantities of chips make me feel sick.
Another important aspect to look at is our environment. The packaging of both products creates waste. Though the bag might create less volume in garbage, it is a lot less friendly to the environment. Chip bags are not biodegradable, and are not recycled in any factories. Canisters are mostly biodegradable though. The body of the canister is made from cardboard, and all that you have left is the bottom and the lid. Also canisters can be used as storage containers for other goods, while bags obviously were not designed to be reused this way. In this way, canisters are a lot more eco-friendly than bags.
In the end, it all comes down to preferences. Some people prefer efficiency and others prefer the perception of more. We live in a society where the superior product seldom thrives as the dominant one: like the Beta VCR, or the Mac computer. Beta and Mac were both far more superior than their competition, but somehow they are seldom viewed that way. So while I feel like the canister would definitely be the superior product, its size is definitely holding itself back from the spotlight. Undoubtedly the advent of a longer canister would spell the end of the bagged chip in the marketplace. However, it might also make an even more obese American population.
I love "special" brownies


1 comment:

Josh said...