Deep questions confront humanity these days. Such as, what to do about that Israeli/Palestinian conflagration? Or this one: What is a Pringle, really?
For those of you who fret over the big things, I bring you glad tidings. The Supreme Court of England has at last resolved this last question. A Pringle, ruled Lord Justice Robin Jacob, is a potato chip.
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You might think this is obvious, since these edibles feature an illustration of chips on the package and are marketed as “potato chips.” Okay, they’re a deconstructed, reconstituted, over-engineered potato product, but still, there it is: a potato chip.
However, some in England disagree, vigorously protesting that Pringles also contain corn, rice, wheat, and assorted additives. These complainers were not nitpicking consumers, but lawyers from Procter & Gamble, the manufacturer of said product!
How ironic. Global corporate giants constantly whine about “frivolous lawsuits,” but P&G hauled this frivolity through three layers of British courts, asserting that a Pringle is not a potato chip, but a “savory snack.” You see, potato chips are taxed in England, but savory snacks are not. To dodge the potato tax, P&G tried to deny the very essence of its own product.
The litigious corporation conceded that Pringles are about 40 percent potato flour, but argued that this does not give the product a taxable level of “potatoness.” Yes, “potatoness.”
Lord Justice Jacobs was not moved, declaring that a Pringle is “made from potato flour in the sense that one cannot say that it is not made from potato flour.” He added pointedly that the question was “not one calling for over-elaborate, almost mind-numbing legal analysis.” Pay the tax, he concluded.
Thank you. That’s one less deep question we have to confront.
“The Lord Justice Hath Ruled: Pringles Are Potato Chips,” The New York Times, June 1, 2009.
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