In Britain, potato chips are known as “crisps” presumably due to their distinctive texture. In Australia, we’ve adopted the broader US synonym “potato chip”. For the sake of effective communication, this needs to be amended forthwith.
Crisps driver picture from Shutterstock
Our chief issue with the phrase potato chip (commonly shortened to “chips”) is that it shares the same exact name as another widely popular snack in Australia (i.e. — the hot, deep-fried variety). This can easily lead to initially confusing conversations where you could be talking about one snack or the other.
Simply saying “I feel like some chips” to your shopping partner does not provide them with enough information. You subsequently have to dress up the phrase with additional adjectives like “crunchy” or “hot” or name a specific brand. (This is especially tedious when trying to determine what a non-communicative toddler wants to eat — I speak from experience.)
The Brits don’t have this problem. When my English cousin says he wants a bag of crisps, I know exactly what he’s talking about. We need a similar distinction in Australia.
What with it being Friday afternoon and all, we thought you might like to waste time solving this pointless conundrum: just what should we call potato chips in Australia?
Adopting the word crisps is too easy and would make us look like a bunch of monarchists, so we’ll leave it up to you to provide the answer. We’ll send the winning suggestion a bag of chips (do we mean crispy or hot? You’ll have to wait and see!)