Manas Tungare

I ask you, the blogosphere, to enlighten me on the best way to eat Pringles that does not involve a bowl. The Pringles can is one of the iconic designs of modern times — uniformly-shaped potato chips in a tube — that seems to value form over function.

Let's admit: eating chips is a secondary task for most Americans. These are snacks people munch on when they're doing other things. Thus, these chips should be easy to grab with one hand and have the other hand free for the television remote, steering wheel or keyboard/mouse. At the same time, it is important that chips don't spill, or worse yet, crumble in your hand. So what's the best way to eat them without needing a bowl? (because using a bowl would just be weaseling out of this problem into one already solved in The Textbook.)

The first few chips are easy. (Isn't that the case with everything? :) ) They're within the grasp of your fingers, so it's no different than plucking a few chips from a bag. It's after the top few disappear that the problem starts. Should I force my hand into the can? Should I invert the can so the chips fall out into my hand? Should I tilt the can ever so slightly and tap on the side to have the chips exit one by one instead of stampeding all over themselves?

I've tried to dig in with my hand to get to the next few, but my hand is too big to fit inside the can, and it's probably not a good idea anyway. I shudder to think of the day I'm in an Emergency Room with a Pringles can wrapped around my wrist, with $200/hour doctors cutting off an embarrassing roll of cardboard from the one organ that distinguishes men from apes. No, excavating anything but the top few is a job for professional archaeologists.

I've tried inverting the can with the lid on, so (I hoped) the chips would all accumulate on the lid, and then I could simply open it up and eat a few. The problem is, the quantum stable state for potato chips is a pile of crumbs. Inverting the can gets all the crumbs to the bottom of the can, and when the lid is opened, that's what comes out first.

I've tried tilting the can at a precise angle and knocking on the side until the top few chips make their way slowly out the door. This sometimes works, but takes a long time, and very skillful knocking/tapping/flicking to get the right number of chips out of the can. Often, you'll spend five minutes tapping unsuccessfully, then, out of a burst of frustration, you'd tap just a little bit harder, and have Pringles rain upon you. No go.

Dear Mommy taught me to search the Web before posting random questions to total strangers, so I did my homework. Here's an innovative method of eating Pringles, but I'm no chopsticks ninja. And eating chips with chopsticks vaguely reminds me of the Seinfeld episode with George eating Snickers with a knife. You get the point, sort of.

So my question to you is, what's the best way you've found to eat Pringles out of a can without spilling any crumbs, using a minimum number of hands to do it? A second, deeper, question, from my obvious position as a design and HCI person is, why has such a design resisted change over so many years despite being so hard to eat from?