Potato chip bag tells a story

Dec. 5, 2011 at 8:12 PM
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PALO ALTO, Calif., Dec. 5 (UPI) -- A study at Stanford University showed that the potato chip a U.S. consumer chooses says a lot about the consumer's social status.

"The red-state and blue-state models of our nation are written on the back of every bag of potato chips," said Dan Jurafsky, a linguist who studied the marketing hype on potato chip bags, the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News reported Monday.

When Jurafsky and fellow linguist Joshua Freedman studied the bags, they found six relatively expensive brands had bags that tended to use language that matched a higher education level -- using longer sentences and words like, "culinary," and "savory."

Cheaper brands, like Lays or Herrs, used packaging with less and simpler writing in messages that conjured up blue-collar values, such as "time-honored tradition," the newspaper said.

Both expensive and cheap brands emphasized words like "healthy" and "natural ingredients," the study found. But expensive brands touted health-oriented claims six times more often than cheaper brands.

Inside the bag, the product could be exactly the same. Outside the bag is a different price and a different story, the researchers said.

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