The puzzling world of virtual snacks

From New Scientist‘s Feedback column:

Michael Harvey tells us he is munching from a packet of Walkers Thai sweet chilli flavour crisps (chips, transatlantically). The packet proudly proclaims: “made with real ingredients”, and Michael wonders what the alternative is.

Within the hour Paul Gardner writes with an answer, inspired by a packet of poppadoms from the same company, which “contains only real ingredients”. He expresses relief, having been “concerned for some time now about the use of imaginary ingredients in snacks”.

Checking back in the Feedback piling system, we discover that the enterprising Rob Buckland pre-empted both by a day. His 8-year-old daughter Ash had asked what other kinds of ingredient there were, and he writes: “I am looking for investors in my new venture – crisps made with virtual ingredients.” After packaging costs he anticipates quite good profit margins.

Our piling system has lost track of the number of other readers who alerted us to this bizarre claim: virtually hundreds have done so.