Kimberly Klink

Kimberly Klink

Elementary School First Place Winner - 2012 Food Engineering Essay Contest
Phoenix, Arizona
Kimberly Klink
The Life Cycle of the Potato Chip

The potato plays a very important part in the world’s food supply. The United Nations reports that the world production of potatoes in 2009 was 330 million tonnes. Just over two thirds of the global production is eaten directly by humans with the rest being fed to animals. Asia produces the most potato chips. Most potatoes are grown from tubers and have red, white, blue, purple and pink flowers (Potato).

The potato chip is made of fresh potatoes. These are the steps to a fresh potato chip. First, the ground is pushed around by a plow to find the potatoes. The potatoes are kept in a sun-filled box for no more than 24 hours. If they are stored for more than 24 hours, the chips will have brown spots. Then the potatoes get a magnificent shower to remove the dirt (How It’s Made).

Next they travel to the peeler, which is like a big saw going around and around. It spins at two miles per hour. Then a machine sorts them by size. The smaller ones fall and the big ones get cut in half by a blender with sharp teeth. Next, the potatoes go to a barrel of cold water (How It’s Made). This is when the potatoes become looking more like chips. They are fried at 375 degrees Fahrenheit and then salted in the mixer. Next, a camera is watching the potato chips to detect brown spots. The potato chips are air blown to dry (How It’s Made). This is how chips get their delightful crunchy texture.

Engineers play a big role in making potato chips. In fact, if it were not for engineers, making a single potato chip would take a very long time. Engineers design and build the plows that find and harvest the potatoes. They also develop the machines that take care of all the steps listed above. Industrial engineers would be responsible for making the chip-making process faster and better (Career Descriptions). The mechanical engineers would help to make the machines needed to make a chip (Career Descriptions). Environmental engineers may also be involved because potatoes come from the earth (Career Descriptions).

I have noticed one step where the engineers could improve: I still find brown spots on my chips. When I become an engineer, I will design a better way to detect the brown spots in the chips. I am also interested in environmental engineering, so if I were making the plows and potato chip machinery I would make sure they used green energy and were not harming the environment. The environment is important if we want to continue to have potato chips in the future.