COLUMN: No whey! Milk ingredients have no business in a potato chip


Dan Hahn

Dan Hahn is a graduate student studying English and can be reached at 217-581-2812.

Dan Hahn, Columnist

There are two types of snack aficionados: those that read ingredients labels and those that do not. I belong to the first category, and most often I will not eat anything unless I have either read the label or have confidence I know what’s in it.

Sure, it’s probably best to snack on fresh fruits and vegetables, but where’s the joy in that? Especially since we live in the golden age of crunchy, processed snacks.

A staple in any snacking arsenal is the kettle cooked potato chip.

Most people nowadays know what a vegan is, but I try to avoid those kinds of labels. What I do care about is reading labels to make sure I’m not consuming products that contain meat or dairy.

I have found this lifestyle easy to maintain for the most part, even for someone who engages in a healthy (and sometimes not so healthy) snacking habit. After over 10 years of leading a plant-based lifestyle, I don’t understand why some kettle cooked potato chips contain a milk ingredient.

I’m not talking about sour cream and onion or sour cream and cheddar varieties, I’m talking about kettled cooked chip flavors that are intended to be salted or spicy, but have whey sneakily hidden away in the ingredients.

I’m looking at you Miss Vickie’s brand! You should be ashamed of yourself sneaking whey into both your sea salt and vinegar flavor and jalapeno flavored kettle cooked potato chips.

For those who may not know, whey is a byproduct usually left over from cheese manufacturing.

I generally don’t mind cross-contamination, which is when plant-based food is prepared on the same surface as food that contains animal products. But I draw a firm line when I find out there is milk on my potato chip. To that I say, no whey!

I argue that this is not a vegan only issue. I think most people who want a salty or spicy chip would prefer to avoid whey given the opportunity. Less is more, after all.

I also consider myself frugal, so I shop at Aldi and their Clancy’s brand kettle chips suffers from the same affliction as Miss Vickie’s. Shame on you, Clancy.

Wouldn’t it be most efficient to forgo the addition of an unneeded ingredient then pass the savings to the consumer?

While we’re naming names, don’t think I forgot about you, Lay’s brand! I know you’re up to the same tricks as Miss Vickie and Clancy, and you and others of your ilk need to knock it off with the milk. Rhyme intended.

Of course, it’s not lost on me that potato chips aren’t a health food and most people who indulge in “unhealthy” eating likely don’t read ingredients labels. But, indulgence is not necessarily a bad thing when incorporated into a balanced lifestyle.

The issue is that I care, and I am not alone. Hordes of vegans and lactose intolerant people also care. We won’t buy these snack foods. You know why? Three words: squirt of milk.

I think it’s high time we rebrand “whey” to “squirt of milk” on ingredients labels the world over. It sounds unpleasant, but that’s the point. It is unpleasant. Snacking is supposed to be pleasant.

Informed and well-intentioned consumers, even those that aren’t plant based don’t want bovine milk byproduct on their salty or spicy potato chips either.

The truth is that these food manufacturers don’t care. And let’s face it, we’re all probably better off eating potatoes that are not deep fried in oil.

In the end I do not despair, there is a simple solution if you don’t want milk on your potato chip. Simply take your business elsewhere. Read the labels. There is such a thing as integrity in snacking!

Remember, manufacturers of snack foods will happily continue to sneak ingredients into your food that don’t belong there. That is, of course, until the buying habits of more well-informed, intentional consumers push manufacturers, through boycotts, to stop squirting milk on perfectly good potato chips.

Dan Hahn is an English Composition/Rhetoric graduate student. He can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.