The Real Reason Some Potato Chips Are Green

When you're hankering for a salty fix, nothing feels better than ripping open a bag of potato chips. Crunchy and compulsively addictive, potato chips reign supreme in the world of snack foods. And there's a reason you can never have just one — when you begin munching on a chip, the salt triggers the release of dopamine, a chemical that is in control of the pleasure center in the brain, as The Healthy explained. Once your brain gets a taste of this rewarding feeling, it just keeps wanting more. 

The best part about potato chips? With the wide array of flavor concoctions, from barbecue to sour cream & onion to cheddar and salt & vinegar, there's truly a type out there for everyone. In fact, most grocery aisles dedicate up to a whole aisle for these crunchy carbs. Made from three simple ingredients, potatoes, oil, and salt, it's even possible to make these devilishly delicious munchies at home.

While no one can deny that chips are the number one snack for couch potatoes, there is one thing that sometimes gets in the way of the blissful, chip-eating experience. Every so often, people come across a potato chip that's not like the others in their bag of goods. While most of your chips are beautifully golden, sometimes a random chip may appear that's bright green. While green potato chips might be unnerving, there's a perfectly good reason behind their unusually tinted hue.

While green chips won't kill you, they do contain a poisonous chemical

There's two types of people in the world: the individuals who would happily pop a green chip in their mouths, and the ones who would immediately throw one in the trash. For those of you who have been freaked out by green chips since childhood, are your fears warranted? 

According to Mental Floss, green chips ultimately come from potatoes that have been exposed to too much light, something that can occur anywhere from the actual field in which the potato is grown — all the way to the inside of your own home. Chlorophyll, the substance formed when the plant or vegetable is bathed in too much sun, is the specific culprit behind the green hue (as it is with all green plants and veggies).

The bottom line: green potato chips are safe to eat. However, one thing to keep mind, per Mental Floss, is that chlorophyll does contain a chemical called solanine, which is poisonous. Ingesting too much of this chemical can cause nausea, vomiting, and, in extreme cases, even death. That being said, one would need to consume one very green, two-pound potato, to start feeling any of these unpleasant side effects. 

And the USDA has a process to keep you safe, marking potatoes that are more than 5% green as damaged goods — meaning the majority of green potatoes will never reach your lips. Still, when taking into account the rare side effects, we wouldn't blame you if you continue to throw any green chips in the trash.