Landmark Decision: British Court Rules on Potato Content in Crisps

Potato crisps, commonly known as potato chips in the United States, have always been a beloved snack for people around the world. The satisfaction of biting into a crispy, flavorful chip is an experience cherished by many. However, the age-old debate has resurfaced, questioning the very essence of these beloved snacks: How much potato should a true crisp contain?

The Ruling and Its Implications

In a recent landmark decision, a British tax appeals court ruled that Walkers Sensations Poppadoms, a type of fluffy, non-crisp-appearing potato medallions, are to be classified as potato crisps. This decision not only affects the labeling and taxation of these snacks but also reignites the ongoing debate about the classification of food items. The ruling dictates that Walkers, the company behind the poppadoms and various other snack foods, will be required to pay the same value-added tax on its poppadoms as it does on its assortment of crisps. This decision is bound to stir up both the masses and the crisp-loving community.

Cultural Identity and Culinary Definitions

Food holds a significant place in expressing cultural identity, as expressed by Dr. Ty Matejowsky, a professor of anthropology at the University of Central Florida. The ruling, while triggering debates and discussions, is unlikely to change anyone’s perception of these beloved snacks. The poppadom, an anglicized version of the Indian “papadum,” traditionally refers to a flat, crunchy, circular flatbread typically made with gram flour. However, Walkers introduced a smaller version of the poppadom, resembling the size of a potato chip, which has given rise to the current debate. This ruling mirrors a similar decision from 2008, when a British high court judge ruled that Pringles were to be classified as crisps despite tax-related arguments to the contrary.
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Food vs. Snack: The Legal Perspective

The crux of the ongoing debate revolves around the categorization of poppadoms as either food or snacks. For tax purposes, “food” typically involves preparation and is intended to be consumed as part of a larger meal, while “snacks” are standalone items. This subtle distinction holds significant weight in British tax law, with snacks such as crisps being subject to a 20 percent value-added tax.

Walkers' Argument and the Judgment

Walkers had staunchly contended that their Sensations Poppadoms should be considered distinct from their potato crisp counterparts and, as a result, should be exempt from the prevailing tax regulations. They emphasized that poppadoms are typically consumed with accompaniments such as chutney or dips, implying a preparatory aspect. Additionally, they argued that the ingredients used in making poppadoms should not necessarily be categorized as potato ingredients by purist standards. Despite Walkers’ arguments, the tribunal remained unmoved, asserting that while the poppadoms may not contain as much potato as traditional crisps, they indisputably contain potato, leading to the judgment in favor of categorizing them as crisps.


The recent ruling on Walkers Sensations Poppadoms has not only sparked an intense debate about the essence of these snacks but has also shed light on the intricate nuances of culinary definitions and tax regulations. While the ruling may have legal ramifications, the enduring love for these snacks remains unaffected, as they continue to be enjoyed by people from all walks of life.


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