The Potato Chip at the Bottom of the Bag Resembles Jean-Paul Sartre, Here’s Why it Doesn’t Matter

Who may or may not have two thumbs, wrote the set of letters you may or may not be currently consuming, and may or may not have just finished an entire family size bag of Humpty Dumpty All Dressed Chips?


I did, maybe, though it is all rather arbitrary. Also, why do we say “may or may not have” when to say “may have” accomplishes the same objective?


I had just finished watching James DeMonaco’s “The Purge,” mindlessly masticating processed potato chips to the point of disintegration when I happened upon a particularly peculiar shaped chip at the bottom of the bag. It’s rare you find a chip in good condition that has lived most of its life at the bottom of a bag among what can truly only be called crumbs, but this chip defied the odds and did just that. This chip remained in pristine condition and had an undeniable likeness to the French philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre.


But, who cares?


In the same moment that I recognized the chip’s resemblance to Sartre, I was overcome with a complete sense of nothingness. Did the shape of this snack food just bring me happiness? What was food and why do we categorize certain foods to be snack foods and deem others worthy of the title entree? Entree… entree… entree… I’ve said the word only three times and it seems I’ve already lost the capacity to comprehend any possible meaning for the word. Entree… Entree… Surely this odd combination of sounds has never, and will never carry significance of any kind, right?


Just as immediately as I lost my ability to see meaning in language, physical objects were reduced to the absurd.


I looked at the bag of chips, “packaged and distributed in Maine,” it read. “Let me get this straight,” I thought to myself. “A farmer in Maine used some potato picking machine made by some engineer, assembled by some assembly line somewhere, so they could gather hundreds and hundreds of starch-based balls that sprouted from the ground, bring them to another machine that was engineered and assembled by a different engineer and assembly line, to subsequently be cut in thin slices, doused in ketchup, barbecue sauce, sour cream and onion, and salt and vinegar flavoring only to be put in big plastic bags which had to be made by some other machine… I could go all day. All this has to lead to my teeny tiny little chortle at the shape of one of these chips. How can this matter? How can I matter?”

The chip is just as much a chip as I am a human. How could I, or anything, really matter when there is so much we don’t know? I could drive myself mad with the weight of such insignificance.


I could kill myself, really. But, if I kill myself then the chip doesn’t get to make anyone laugh. I think I’ll keep on laughing at snacks. Someday I dream of finding a cracker with a slight resemblance to Albert Camus.

By: Joe McNaney

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