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Pringle's Chips: An Engineering Marvel

When you think of Pringle's chips, the first thing that comes to mind is probably their unique saddle shape. But what you might not know is that this design is no accident - it was carefully crafted by engineers to create the perfect chip.


Pringles packaging

Source: Packaging Company


The shape is known as a hyperbolic paraboloid, and it took 2 years and the use of supercomputers to design. Why did they go through all that trouble? It turns out that there are several advantages to this particular design: it is self-centering, meaning it is easy to stack up; and it is impossible to predict how it will break up when you eat it, creating a more crunchy feeling and satisfying experience.


Background


In 1956, Procter and Gamble tasked chemist Frederick J. Baur with devising a new type of potato chips to address consumer complaints about broken, greasy, and moldy chips as well as air in the bags. With these criteria in mind, Baur set out to produce the world's greatest Potato chips.

Baur spent two years working on saddle-shaped/hyperbolic paraboloid-shaped chips from fried dough, and the tubular can was selected as the chip's container.


The machine that produces pringles was designed by mechanical engineer and author Gene Wolfe, best known for his science fiction and fantasy works. This was the start of Pringles. Their meticulous attention to detail has aided in Pringle's success and popularity in the chips segment. The saddle-shaped Pringles design, also known as the Hyperbolic Paraboloid form, has been a major factor behind its success. A timeless case of a highly technology-focused solution to neatly tackle customer's issues in a non-tech sector, and it was created in 1956.


hyperbolic paraboloid geometry used in Pringle chips

Source: Interesting Engineering


So the next time you reach for a bag of Pringle's chips, be sure to appreciate the engineering marvel that they are!