Scientists have been exploring what makes foods crispy or crunchy for decades—now it’s your turn!

  • No safety considerations
  • Beginner
  • 20 minutes

Prepare Ingredients

3 wide, thin, and crispy or crunchy snack foods, such as:

Potato chips
Kettle chips
Pringles potato crisps
Tortilla chips
Doritos chips
Water crackers

Gather Equipment

Sheet of paper
Digital kitchen scale
small paper or plastic cups, about 3 ounces each, both the same size
Pen with rounded cap or pencil with rounded eraser

Part 1: Listen


Make a prediction: Crispy and crunchy are two words that are often used interchangeably to describe food texture, but they actually mean different things. Which of your snack foods do you think are crispy? Which do you think are crunchy? Why do you think so?


Use sheet of paper and pencil to create a recording sheet for your results. Draw line down center of paper to create 2 columns. Label 1 column “Crispy” and second column “Crunchy.”

wide, thin, and crispy or crunchy snack foods

Observe your results: Find a quiet space. Eat 1 or 2 of each chip or cracker. As you chew, pay attention to what it sounds like: Does it sound crispy (higher pitched) or crunchy (lower pitched)? Based on your observations, write the name of each chip or cracker in the “Crispy” or “Crunchy” column on your sheet of paper.


Part 2: Measure


Before you begin, use a pencil to write the name of each chip or cracker on the back of your sheet of paper.


Set digital kitchen scale to measure ounces. Place 2 small paper or plastic cups upside down on scale. Lay single chip or cracker across cups (like a bridge). Press “tare” or “zero” button on scale. It should now show zero weight.


While an adult or friend watches scale to record reading, use pen cap or pencil eraser to gently press on center of chip or cracker. As slowly as you can, press down harder and harder until chip or cracker breaks. Record reading on scale when chip or cracker breaks next to its name on your paper. (If it takes A LOT of force to break a chip or cracker, you might max out how much force your scale can measure—record “max” as your data point for that food.)


Observe your results: Repeat test 3 times with each type of chip or cracker, recording readings on scale next to each chip or cracker’s name.


Look at the data you recorded on your sheet of paper: Which chips or crackers took the most force to break? Which chips or crackers took the least force to break? Did the foods that took the most force to break sound high pitched or low pitched? What other patterns did you notice?