On the Irresistibility of Hot Chips

It’s not our fault. That’s what I tell myself. At an intellectual level I am no fan of the hot chip, but at a hypothalamic level I can’t resist them. Most of them time I can say No when they remain abstract, but put some in front of me and it’s a different game entirely. Why?

Needless to say, I rationalised the blazes out of this one a while back, and fall back on my rationalisation any time a plate of chips is at my mercy (note: when it comes to chips, there is no mercy). For my rationalisation, I have my medical degree and the great clear thinking of Robert Winston (the Right Hon Prof Baron Winston of Hammersmith no less) to thank. Here’s how it goes …

We are all hard-wired to be hot-chip-eating fiends. We are built for famine and not at all equipped for plenty. Through millions of years of evolution, pre-humans and early humans did it tough and natural selection did its bit. And who, back then, was best equipped to survive going hungry? The people who ate the most before the hunger came along. The people who had stored the most energy. The people whose hypothalamic appetite centres drove them hardest to seek and eat fat and carbohydrates. (Do you see where this is going?)

So, those without the genes programming their appetite centres for fat-seeking and carb-seeking didn’t make the cut. Famine after famine, their numbers fell. In the end, only the energy storers kept going. We are all the progeny of survivors, of ancient folk wired for fats and carbohydrates. It’s just who we are. The love of hot chips is in our genes.

What we aren’t built for is the lives most of us in developed countries live now. Our ancestors walked 20km a day and were hungry much of the time. For many of us, our nearest burger is a few hundred metres drive away.

But for me it’s not so much about burgers. Perhaps the fat+carb combo refined to its purest form is the hot chip. At a distance, reason can over-ride my genetic urge to feast on chips but, at close quarters, well, it’s just nature.

I hope that’s of some help to those similarly afflicted.

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7 Responses to On the Irresistibility of Hot Chips

  1. And the all enticing scent of burning oil coating said chip is the clincher with me. I blame the Irish in my veins for all assorted shortcomings including the love of a hot fried spud.

  2. Jake J. Fox says:

    The crunch, the glistening finger tips, the smoky tang of old burnt oil. Seriously, I could go on.

    Hot chips are my one true vice. Smoking, I’ve managed to quit. Drinking, I can say no if I have to work early or I feel I’m about to hurl. However with chips I have no restraint. I could have them as a side for breakfast lunch and dinner, and then still think it’s a fab idea to have some with a late-night hot chocolate.

    Now that you’ve explained it’s a totally natural act rather than what I thought was an extremely unhealthy glitch in my want versus need rationalisation, I feel much more at ease.

    I have a cafe literally three meters from my front door. They won’t know what’s hit them.

    • nickearls says:

      I like to say I accept no responsibility for future binges, but the real issue is neither does your hypothalamus. Or mine. You may need to move house. You can’t be held responsible with chips that close.

  3. quokka says:

    Which validates my philosophy that if a seagull won’t resort to violence to steal it, it’s simply not worth eating.
    A few months ago when I was roaming the shopping malls of Perth, I discovered Air Fried hot chips. The stall holder had a sign up saying they contained 80% less fat.
    As his stall had 80% less customers than the greasy joe’s three doors down, I doubt that he’s backing a winner, there.
    Unless of course he decides to diversify, and adds Hungarian donuts to the menu…

    • nickearls says:

      I like the seagull theory.

      Much as we can all see the low-fat theory behind the Air Fried Chip, I think most of us would agree that it’s kind of missing the point, and air is not really a frying medium. I guess ‘desiccated potato’ didn’t sound like something people would rush. Or is Air Frying just baking? In which case everyone’s now thinking of what great high-fat substance they can dip the end result into.

  4. quokka says:

    That would be sour cream with sweet chili sauce, or if you have truly heathen inclinations – mayo.
    I have no clue how they manage this air frying business, and as I was foraging for something edible to sustain me on the five hour flight back to Brisbane, (not to mention the extra hour the plane was delayed while they scrubbed footballer vomit out of the toilets) I didn’t have time to hang around and remedy my ignorance. For this we have youtube.

    My seagull theory can be verified by scientific testing, should you have the nerve or the idiocy to attempt it. Some years ago a group of us trundled off to Seaworld for the day. Naturally none of us made it past the donut stand and just as I was about to take the second bite of my deliciously hot and fragrant donut, it flew away – courtesy of some fat MF seagull who’d been perching on the roof of the donut hut watching for an easy target. All his friends and relatives promptly bombed him and the air was rent with the screams of many pissed off seagulls and the hysterical laughter of my (ex) friends. The girl at the donut stand rolled her eyes, gave me a fresh donut and this time issued the warning ‘Careful. He’ll be back.’

    I think they need signs, in a dozen different languages, or perhaps one of those symbol things showing a stick figure being mugged by their resident airborne donut thieves.

  5. youthworx2 says:

    Hi Nick,

    Just finished The Fix and loved it. Refreshingly different and yet comfortingly familiar (yes that is meant to be a compliment) and surprisingly free of the weird, stalker-like elements that have characterised my experiences of all your other books.

    Thanks again for taking me to all those familiar places and seeing them just a little differently.

    Andrew (from Rosetta Books).

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