High Moments of the Day: The History of Pringles

Procter and Gamble sold Pringles Brand to Diamond Foods for $2.35 billion. Now heres a brief history of these wonderful chips

Taken from the New York Times:

Procter wanted to create a perfect chip to address consumer complaints about broken and stale chips and air in the bags.

The task was assigned to a chemist named Fredric Baur, who from 1956 to 1958 created Pringles’ saddle shape out of fried dough and also its can. But Mr. Baur could not figure out how to make the chips taste good, and he eventually was pulled off the Pringles job to work on another brand. In the mid-1960s, another Procter researcher, Alexander Liepa, dusted off Mr. Baur’s work and set a out to improve on the Pringles taste, which he succeeded in doing.

Another theory for the Pringles’ name comes from Mr. Liepa’s patent, which credits research done in the 1940s by Mark Pringle, Mr. McCoy said.

The chips were test marketed in Evansville, Ind., in 1968 and were an “overnight sensation,” Mr. McCoy said. But when the chips went national in 1971, the taste issue resurfaced. Officially, Pringles are called crisps rather than chips, the result of a long-ago fracas between competitors and regulators over what could be called a potato chip.

In the 1993 book “Soap Opera: the Inside Story of Procter & Gamble,” the author Alecia Swasy writes that Pringles were considered one of the great flops in company history, “the P.& G. Edsel.” Mr. McCoy maintains, however, that Pringles gained traction after a makeover in 1980s, which included a thicker chip and a new focus on the taste, rather than the can.

Mr. Baur never lost his affection for the Pringles’ can, which he invented. When he died in 2008, his children honored his request to bury his ashes in a Pringles can. In an interview with Time, Mr. Baur’s son, Larry, said he and his siblings stopped at a Walgreen’s to pick up a can of Pringles on the way to the funeral home.

“My siblings and I briefly debated what flavor to use,” Mr. Baur said, in the Time interview. “But I said, ‘Look we need to use the original.’ ”

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