A Snack Lover's Guide to Chips

Fun facts about all types of chips, from potato and pretzel to pita and bagel

"Chip" is a great word. It can refer to, among other things, a type of golf or soccer shot, a small morsel of chocolate in a cookie, a tiny piece of technology that makes your cellphone work, even (if you're British) a chunky french fry. But the best chips are the kinds served at parties in big bright bowls — snacks you just can't stop eating, whether it's because of how they taste themselves or the flavor of the dips they often carry.

Chips have a bad rap these days. That's understandable in a society obsessed by weight-gain — we are talking fried food here after all. Consider the nutritional value of of Lay's potato chips. Calorie Count, a schoolmarm website that grades foods based on their daily nutritional values, gave them a D+. There are healthier examples: Ruffles Light scored a half-hearted B-.  

But let's be real. No one eats chips to be healthy. What Calorie Count doesn't take into account is joy, the pure, unadulterated pleasure that occurs when you fit that Pringle into your mouth like they do in the commercials and shatter it into a thousand splendid shards.

What exactly is a Pringle? How did it come about? And what about all the other chip innovations that have been dreamed up — pretzel, tortilla, pita — to be sold in supermarkets and vending machines, and churned out in tons of crazy flavors around the world? Here's the lowdown on the origins of some iconic chips culled straight from the party bowl.

Click here for A Snack Lover's Guide to Chips Slideshow.