CRAZY TALK

TASTE THE RAINBOW

Things were simple in my youth. There were twelve VFL teams, four TV channels, two types of potato. And four flavours of potato chip. Whether Thinly Sliced, or Crinkle Cut, chips came in Plain, Salt & Vinegar, Chicken and Barbecue. What's more, no matter what the brand, you could rely on the colour of the packet to tell you what flavour you were holding. Plain chips came in blue, Salt & Vinegar in magenta, Chicken came in green, and Barbecue was orange. All quite distinct, even for those with red/green colour blindness. Back then, as a preliterate child, I knew what I was getting. There were no surprises.

How times have changed. If you're not looking, you can now pick up a pack of chips only to discover that it is Cheddar flavour, or Sour Cream & Chives flavour, or Tasmanian Mountain Pepper & Braised Beef, or Dill Pickle, or Habanero Chilli, or Meat Pie with Tomato Sauce, or Wasabi and Ginger, or Red Caviar. These are all real flavours.

In this mad rush for the most bizarre flavour, brands have abandoned the universal colour coding of the past. Now we have a dangerous situation where a red packet may signify Aussie Hot Dog, or Sour Cream & Sweet Chilli, or even Sweet Chilli & Sour Cream! This is, frankly, intolerable. And unnecessary. As humans are capable of recognizing hundreds of different flavours, we can discern hundreds of colours too.

I propose an international registry of potato chip packet colours. Existing flavours will be grandfathered in and assigned appropriate colours: Salt & Vinegar will naturally receive Pantone Process Magenta. Barbecue orange is Pantone 1585. Light & Tangy can be assigned Pantone 809, a bright fluorescent lime, to act as a prominent deterrent to the unwary. Newly proposed flavours will be taste-tested and assigned a colour by qualified synaesthetes, who can finally earn a living from their otherwise useless superpower. International trade treaties will provide harsh penalties for noncompliance, and here I am specifically thinking of American chip companies who try to pass off Salt & Vinegar using Pantone Process Cyan, which of course is reserved for Almond and Coriander Pesto flavour. Handily, if anyone ever tries to make a Tobacco flavoured potato chip, it can be assigned olive brown Pantone 448, just like plain cigarette packaging.

Without these precautions, it's only a matter of time before some innocent youngster ingests a Roast Turkey & Cranberry Sauce flavoured potato chip. Think of the children!

DEBORAH PICKETT, MELBOURNE (@FUTZLE), who can still taste that Mint Raita chip years afterwards.

 Pale apricot packets shall designate boiled mutton flavour. Mmm, boiled mutton. [Boiled Mutton prepared by Thomas Knight Bennet], 1873. State Library of Victoria, H96.160/2345.

Pale apricot packets shall designate boiled mutton flavour. Mmm, boiled mutton. [Boiled Mutton prepared by Thomas Knight Bennet], 1873. State Library of Victoria, H96.160/2345.