If there is one thing that can upset junk food aficionados, it’s a potato chip bag half filled with air. No matter what brand you buy, once you tear into the bag, you almost always find it already halfway empty before you’ve even chomped on a single single. While it can be disappointing, there is actually a good reason for all of this seemingly wasted space.

Protecting those potato chips

No, chip companies aren’t trying to pull a fast one on you. In the industry, the empty space is intentionally built into the packaging to help protect the product. It’s known as “slack fill,” and it serves to diminish damage to your Doritos on its journey from production to transportation to the grocery store. Even a small drop in a vending machine could deliver a serious smash job to your chips if that space wasn’t there.

It’s not actually air

Still not convinced? Well, that’s not actually oxygen inside your bag either. Aside from protecting the shape of the product, this space is actually filled with preservative nitrogen gas to keep the chips fresh. If it were just regular air, the chips would eventually get stale, much like they do at your own home. Instead, chips can sit on a shelf for quite a long time.

You’re not paying for it either

The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1967 requires manufactures to disclose the weight of the actual contents to “prevent unfair or deceptive packaging and labeling.” If you want to make sure you’re getting the most bag for your buck, the next time you go shopping, compare the net weights printed on competitors potato chip bags. You’ll be able to see who gives the most product per package.

Also see, Junk food increases your chances of depression, study shows.ย 

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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. Sheโ€™s thrown away just as many meals as sheโ€™s proud of.