January 5th, 2013
07:45 PM ET

Letters to the President #1447: 'Computing the chips'

Reporter's Note: There are several important football games on TV this weekend, and I assume the president might watch some. I mean, when he’s finished reading my daily letter.

Dear Mr. President,

As I write this, I am sampling some fairly delicious baby back rib flavor potato chips. It is the right kind of thing for Wildcard Weekend in the NFL, but the bag containing these delectable morsels has puzzled me a bit. Right at the top, in a shiny red oval, are the words “Limited Edition.”

What can this possibly mean?

At first it might be making reference to some other product being sold with an ad on the bag, or perhaps a prize being given away to lucky potato chip crunchers, but no, it appears to be making reference to the chips themselves. So again, I must ask: What does this mean?

Even in our label crazed, fad loving society I have trouble imagining that enough people have established chip collections to make this a viable piece of marketing. Seriously, I have an active imagination, but I can’t see some guy in Cleveland staring at a blank spot on the shelf saying, “If only I had the baby back rib chips, my collection would be complete!”

I assume they (meaning the chip company) are trying to convince consumers that this is really something special, to suggest that if they don’t buy this bag of chips right now, they’ll miss out on this rare tasty treat and it may never come their way again. I have had the same thought about the McRib sandwich, btw.

It seems a little silly. The chips are good, but not so rare or special that my life would be empty without them.

Still, I think it says less about the chip company and more about our nation as a whole that such a scheme is even attempted. You’ve got to be living pretty high on the hog, after all, to be worried about whether you have the latest exclusive chip design in the cupboard.

Call if you get a moment. I’m around watching the games.