You know that game where there’s a jar full of jelly beans and you have to guess how many of them there are? Well, I suck at that game — I always tend to underestimate the amount. The same goes for any question like that, actually. My brain just isn’t wired for that kind of thing.
However, my brain is programmed to find out anything and everything there is to know about Pringles. From why they’re shaped that way to why your hand can’t quite fit in a Pringles can, I’ve taken it upon myself to answer as many questions about the beloved potato(ish) chips as I can. Thus, when I found out that a shit-ton of people are Googling “How many Pringles are in a can?” I decided to look into it.
If I were to use my shitty guessing skills, I would’ve said there are like, 40 chips in a can. Of course, that’s not even close. The standard online answer is that there are “about 100” chips per can, but the cans say that they contain “about” five servings of 16 chips, which means there’d be 80 Pringles in there. A difference of 20 chips is a huge discrepancy in my eyes, so I went to Walmart to figure this out myself. To keep things as scientific as possible, I bought three cans of plain Pringles plus two other flavors. I theorized that the flavored Pringles might be microscopically thicker than the plain ones because they have more flavoring. But I wanted to test that idea, too.
As it turns out, “about 100” chips is way off. Of the three cans of Original Pringles I counted out, two cans had 79 chips while the last one had 78. Conservatively speaking, the average can of Pringles does indeed contain about 80 Pringles, just like the nutrition facts says it does.
If you want to compare that to a standard bag of potato chips, both Pringles and regular potato chips — like Original Lays, for example — have the same serving size of “about 15 chips.” For both, that’s one ounce of chips per serving, but while a can of Pringles is more compact and efficient than a bag of chips, at 5.2 ounces, it does contain less chips than a standard bag of chips, which are generally seven to 10 ounces.
Per ounce, Pringles also contain a hell of a lot less potato, as they’re only 42 percent potato (that adds up to about three to four potatoes per can of Pringles, according to The Boston Globe); the rest is dough made from corn flour and other ingredients (that’s why they can’t legally be called “chips” in the U.S.).
There is, however, one more mystery I stumbled across: Like I mentioned earlier, I’d theorized that flavored Pringles might be microscopically thicker than the original version, but both the can of sour cream and onion chips and the can of pizza-flavored chips had 82 Pringles per can, which is three more Pringles than I counted in the “Original” cans. They’re marginally heavier than Original Pringles, as a flavored can weighs 5.5 ounces versus the plain’s 5.2, but unless it’s just a simple luck of the draw, I couldn’t account for why more flavored Pringles could fit into a can of the same size.
I reached out to Pringles for comment, but it’s been a few days and I haven’t heard back. Perhaps they dismissed my query as the ravings of a madman, or maybe they’re hiding something. One thing is for sure, though — I’ll never run out of Pringles-related questions for as long as I live.