Pop chips

Corina allowed me to sample a new variety of snack food today, the ‘pop chip’ or more specifically, Trader Joe’s barbeque Popped Potato Chips.  They were quite delicious and light, and I did enjoy stealing quite a few of them.  But the label, with its claims of ‘never fried. never baked.’ left me a little confused.  Just how exactly were these things cooked?  Can potatoes really ‘pop’?  That just doesn’t even make sense.

Pop Chips’ website describes their chips as natural ingredients like potatoes and whole grain rice with heat and pressure applied.  Evidently it is this heat and pressure that pops the chips.  Still, I was confused.  How does the application of heat, even under pressure, cause something to ‘pop’?

A few more careful observations shed some light on the subject.  First under the ingredient list of the pop chips is some type of flour.  In the case of potato chips, it’s potato flour: in the case of rice chips, rice flour. So the actual substance to be ‘popped’ is not a sliver or slice of potato – it’s a dough made with flour and some type of oil (usually sunflower oil).  Now, while this oil is not nearly as heavy as that used for frying, it is the consistency of the dough that allows it to fluff or puff up or ‘pop’ when heat is applied.  In addition, the rice variety also contains yeast, to further add air and fluff to the chip.

Now, my final contention and question.  The definition of baking is ‘to cook (food) with dry heat, especially in an oven.’  While I am not sure if the heat applied to the popped chips is ‘dry’, I am unclear as to why these chips are not considered baked.  The distinction may not qualify as false advertising, but it is certainly misleading.  And while I may nto understand the dynamics of ‘popping’ that require the use of pressure, a bit better explanation of the process on the website might be in order.  After all, despite the simplicity of the ingredients, I doubt it’s something I’ll be able to accurately replicate in my own kitchen.

A Tribute to the Crazy Magician

While looking at the top of my Land-O-Lakes creamer in the break room, I was struck by the contrast of men and women in advertising, especially in the previous century.  Thinking of the various costumes svelte women have modeled to sell goods (Native American, mermaid, goddess, nymph, angel, etc.), I was struck even more forcefully by the opposing male trend – that magical or nefarious male with the devilish eyebrows.  True, such a persona may make sense for the selling of hot sauce or spices, and maybe even alcohol, but food or household products like pain killers and ovens?  And magicians selling themselves?  Really.  That’s uncalled for.

Let’s take a look.  First the women.


I don’t know what this lady is supposed to be or what she’s selling, but it certainly catches the eye.   Especially with that classic bodice.


The house maid.  Always a classy dame.


Again, I don’t know what she’s supposed to be, but she catches the eye.  That’s the bicycle I I’ve always wanted.  Really.

Now the men:


Again – oven I’ve always wanted.  That’s a HOT oven.


Yum.  This guy’s scary clown-face and potential nefarious appearance make me really want to eat that totally ordinary-looking spaghetti.   I guess this was before they learned how to artisically make food look appatizing.


Not sure what this guy is selling, but it definitely cures rheumatism.  It does so by setting your entire body on fire, but who cares?  The rheumatism isn’t bothering you anymore.


And if I’m going in for vice, why not invite a scary green thing into my life?

And finally, the crazy magicians.


This first guy looks pretty normal, so I won’t harp on him too much.   I mean he does have lightning fingers, so that’s pretty cool.  And oddly attractive…


I really don’t know what’s going on with this guy.  Is the skull with the weird stuff coming out of its eyes supposed to be appealing, or somehow more ‘magical’?  So you talk to dead people, and the fairies.  Big deal.   I could do that too, if I didn’t have a real job.

Peaceful Protest

It would be my guess that the violence in Tibet will get worse before it gets better.  There are all kinds of subtle clues.  The situation remains murky, with the Chinese government not allowing reporters in.  Additionally, conflicting reports mean that potentially more than two parties are trying to manipulate the situation for their advantage.  Finally, there’s the Dalai Lama’s recent statement that he will resign as head of the government in exile if the violence continues.

On the one hand, I completely understand his motivations.  These are his people, and he’s a staunch advocate for nonviolence.  At the same time, I don’t think him stepping down would solve the situation.  Both Han Chinese and Tibetans in the area are too angry, and feel too strongly.  The Lama washing his hands of the situation is not going to help matters.  But what else can he do?  What happens when the fight you are championing becomes angry and aggressive, despite your best intentions?

The idea of nonviolent protest is rooted in a language of alternatives.  It is a means of being radically different from the frenzy of most revolutions.  Its shortcomings come from its expectations and motivations.  Peaceful protest, for all its agreeableness, is based on the assumption not only that change is possible, but that is achievable relatively quickly.  The other primary assumption deals with the basic decency of others.  A tree sitting doesn’t work if the lumberjack is not afraid to use violence to move you.  The second major shortcoming comes from the motivation for the nonviolent resistance itself.  Whatever the cause, it will be something that participants believe in strongly.  With this strength of belief, how can we expect that all or most of such protests will not devolve into violence as tensions mount?

I’m not saying the Dalai Lama was wrong to resist the PRC’s assumption of control over his homeland, or wrong to stir up fervor in favor of his cause in the West.  I’m not saying that the PRC was even wrong in its policies of dominance, intrigue, and the importation of Han Chinese to the region.  What I am saying is that both sides are losing control.  Beijing may say they have the ability to handle any situation, but at what cost of human life?  If greater attempts are not made to reduce tensions int he region, we’re only seeing the beginnings of violent escalation.