A study just published in Gastronomica proves that appealing to our tribal identifications is hardly the sole domain of liquor and cigarettes. The authors use "the language of food to examine the representation of socioeconomic class identity in contemporary America by comparing the advertising language on expensive bags of potato chips with that on inexpensive chips."

The results: More expensive potato chips are too busy trying to distance themselves from low-class potato chips to even mention how presumably delicious they are.

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[D]escriptions on expensive chips, unlike on inexpensive chips, are full of comparison (“less fat,” “finest potatoes”) and negation (“not,” “never”’), suggesting a goal of distancing the upper classes from the tastes of lower socioeconomic classes.

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Surprisingly, both rich-people chips and the kind you get at the corner bodega are equally obsessed with authenticity, which means “authentic” may now be the best keyword for realizing that some agribusiness giant is trying to sell you a load of codswallop.

For the upper classes, authentic food is natural: not processed or artificial. For the working class, by contrast, authentic food is traditional: rooted in family recipes and located in the American landscape.

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