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Lay’s® Potato Chip Challenge · 12 October 2007

The old Lay’s® potato chip commercials used to claim, “No one can eat just one.” When I was a cocky teenager, I bragged that I could. My dad was (and still is) a smart guy so instead of arguing, he just said, “Prove it.”


I immediately realized what a mistake I had made when I saw visions of a one-pound bag being put before me. Fortunately, even though I am sure he wanted to be, Dad was not sadistic. He bought a single-serving sized bag for me to eat. The size bag that any normal teenager would finish in just under two seconds.


The rules of the challenge were simple. I had to eat one and only one chip from the bag each day until the bag was empty. I could not eat more. And I could not eat less. Eating more or less than the one chip per day meant that I lost the challenge. Eating other chips meant that I lost the challenge. It was not a bet. It was just a simple challenge to me making a claim that I could do what the jingle on the commercials said I could not do. Eat just one.


I never realized that one chip a day meant that it would take me almost two whole months to eat that small bag. During that time, I could not eat any other chips of any kind. Just one thin sour cream and onion Lay’s® potato chip. Period. I am glad that it was not the summer when we would have had chips at every meal instead of just on the weekends or I never would have made it. I was lucky to make it as it was.


The first days were not too bad. I could eat one chip a day without much problem. I would just open the bag, get one chip, eat it, and then put the bag away. “Nothing to it,” I thought. Those big chips were not enough to keep me until the next day but the thought of Dad and Lay’s® being right was.


I could not lose the challenge and I would not let hunger, taste buds, or anything else get the better of me. Even when I wanted to give in. Even when after I had already eaten a chip, a different one cried out, “Eat me too.”


And another said, “And me.”


And another, “Eat us all.”


I would not give in even when it was a weekend and we were having sandwiches and chips for lunch. And dinner. Even though I kept the chips in my bedroom and could access them any time I wanted. Even though there were days when I wanted to give in and nights when I wanted a midnight snack. Even when the “chips” got smaller and smaller toward the bottom of the bag (to the point of being just crumbs), I still ate only one each day. Each day until they were finally gone. Each day for two long months.


When the crumbs were ridiculously small and I had eaten only one crumb each day for a few days, Dad finally said that I had indeed won the challenge. He declared that I had eaten one and only one Lay’s® potato chip each day until the bag was gone!


It was a long two months proving both Lay’s® and Dad wrong. Mom wanted it to be over every weekend or other time that we had chips but neither Dad nor I would have it. After it was all over, I proved to Dad and myself that I had will power. I proved that I could eat just one Lay’s® potato chip each day until a small bag was gone. I never wrote to them but I should have told the Lay’s® people that they would need to change their slogan to “No one, except Michael Miyoshi, can eat just one.” I suppose that if I wrote them now and told them what I had done, they would just respond like my Dad did back when I was a cocky teenager and say, “Prove it.”

© 2007 Michael T. Miyoshi

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From Long Walks Home unpublished.

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