On the proper ordering of crisps

There are two major issues about the ordering of crisps.

Issue 1: In which order, or orders, should one attempt crisps of various flavours?

Issue 2: Forced into a situation in which one is to eat both crisps and chocolate, should one eat the crisps first and then the chocolate, or the chocolate first and then the crisps?

With respect to issue 1, I think the only good answer is that it depends. The traditional answer would be: prawn cocktail, followed by one of the savouries (beef, chicken, bacon), followed by cheese (and e.g. onion). But one may have been been presented with a non-traditional range of flavours. And even presented with the traditional selection, there are dissenters from the traditional scheme.

Issue 2 is, again, a source of dispute. In part, individual responses will depend on individual taste: a matter of whether an individual would prefer the crisps, or rather the chocolate, to be enjoyed without contamination. However, there is presumably a fact of the matter here, albeit one that is hard to fathom. It may be that the answer is in part empirical, though we are not yet in a position to describe the crucial experiments.

I haven’t here attempted to decide either issue. I hope to have at least made plain what the issues are, to the extent that we may begin to attempt their resolution.

  1. Issue 1. Plain, salt & vinegar, cheese & onion. I’m just an old fashioned girl and can’t be doing with new fangled flavours such as smokey bacon.

    Issue 2. No contest. Crisps then chocolate. Further quandary – what if salted peanuts are added to the mix? (No dry roast tolerated)

  2. thonyc said:

    Have you contemplated consuming your crisps and chocolate simultaneously? Thus solving the problem by severing the culinary Gordian Knot so to speak.

  3. Interesting suggestions, thanks. I’d assumed that the role of plain (or ready salted) crisps is mainly as a palate cleanser between courses. But the issue warrants further reflection.

    As for the proposal of simultaneous consumption, I have to admit that it hadn’t crossed my mind. Leaving aside the usual issues about simultaneity, I think it may be a going concern.

  4. Liam said:

    Surely the two issues are not independent? By this I mean: the order in which one consumes one’s crisp packets should clearly vary according to whether one is going to have to eat chocolate during the sitting. For instance, normally it would be absurd to end one’s crisp eating experience with prawn cocktail. Who wants that to be the last memory you have of crisp eating? But if one knows that chocolate is going to have to be consumed with this meal, this changes things. You’ll want to start with the delicious cheese onion so as to enjoy them uncorrupted, then have the chocolate, and then hope the combined taste of these nice snacks dilutes the horridness of the prawn cocktail.

    Food for thought.

    • That’s an interesting comment. I was treating the issue as concerning whether to eat all the chocolate, then all the crisps, or vice versa. And as you point out, it’s at least conceivable that someone might want to eat crisps, then chocolate, then crisps or (worse) chocolate, then crisps, then chocolate. Although I’d be forced to include that in a formal treatment, I can’t see a real application.

      The issue about prawn cocktail per se raises issues too large to be dealt with here. See my forthcoming.

  5. Issue 2 is clearly of the deepest philosophical importance, as are most topics involving chocolate. I think we can argue from first principles that chocolate must be eaten before crisps: chocolate is better than any other food; given a choice between two foods, we should eat the better one first, since life is short and uncertain and we may be hit by a truck; hence we should eat chocolate first. But not everyone will buy such demanding principles — some people just don’t believe in philosophy! They may be convinced by empirical considerations: the greasy and salty residue of crisps dulls the full development of chocolate flavor-tones.

    • The general principle would only support the conclusion if it held that, wherever you prefer (doing X on condition that you’ll never do anything else) over (not doing X on condition that you’ll never do anything else), you are required to do X. But, in that form, I think the general principle is false.

  6. The contamination issue is vexed. For the savour of chocolate in particular is in part a matter of its lingering effect. To follow it with crisps is thus to contaminate it, just as is to precede it with the same. It seems, therefore, that the issue concerns in part one’s preferences concerning the earlier and the later aspects of the chocolate.

    If a similar point holds with respect to crisps, or at least to the relevant flavour thereof on a given occasion, this ramifies.

    • Interesting points, thanks. I’ve come across similar arguments before, in the context of the question whether one really has to brush one’s teeth.

  7. Goniaj said:

    I really don’t like crisps…

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