What is it about potato chips that makes them so irresistible? Could be the crunch. Could be the salty tang. Could be that they are easy to eat.
Or, could be that potato chips are designed to be all that.
According to experts, back in Neanderthal days, we needed sugar, fat and salt just to stay alive so through the millennia, evolution programmed us to love foods that have one or more of those qualities.
To make sure that potato chips are irresistible to our cave dweller brains, manufacturers build in a “bliss point” – the industry term for the perfect combination of sugar, salt and fat that’s so good we can’t stop eating them.
In fact, potato chips fall into a category of foods that are referred to as “mindless eating” because no one ever counts each chip as we eat them – we just keep going until the bag is empty.
They are a guilty pleasure.
So I’ve started to think that some television programs are really mental potato chips: absolutely no nutritional value but we enjoy them like crazy.
“Real Housewives,” “The Bachelor/ette,” “Say ‘Yes’ To The Dress” are only a few. Looking at the television lineup is like standing in the chip aisle at Hannaford – so many delicious choices!
And in a world that presents really serious situations on an hourly basis, it turns out that a handful of these mental potato chips may –unlike their food namesake – be good for us.
According to research by Robin Nabi at the University of California in Santa Barbara, watching an enjoyable television program actually reduces stress levels. And a University of Rochester study found that TV watching can lower blood pressure and increase feelings of generosity and energy.
Other experts say that watching television can promote creativity which, in turn, makes people happy.
From now on, I’m not going to feel quite as guilty about my viewing choices. I’ll grab a handful of reality TV, sit back and let my cerebrum gorge.
So what if it’s not “Chicken soup for the soul”? It’s potato chips for the brain!