We may all be cutting back on spending because of the recession, but some things are sacrosanct. Last year our consumption of crisps went up by 5.7 per cent.
That's an extra 208 million bags of those crunchy slivers of fried potato we're all mysteriously addicted to. Can you go anywhere without that raucous crunching sound from someone's favourite snack hovering in the background?
Nobody can really explain why we're such suckers for something so insubstantial and so unhealthy, and so absurdly expensive for what it is (raw ingredient - a potato or two with some seasoning).
Is it that fabulous crunching sound as we demolish a crisp? Is it those weird and wonderful artificial flavours? Is it just the secret thrill of eating something especially noisy and ostentatious? Whatever the reason, we're hooked on them.
Supposedly* we owe this uncontrollable addiction to a hotel diner in Saratoga Springs, New York State, in 1853 who complained that his fried potatoes were too thick and too soggy. Chef George Crum responded by slicing the potatoes as thin as he could. The diner was so enthusiastic about the result that they became a regular menu item, "Saratoga Chips". And the rest, as they say, is history - and big business.
Now crisps are the UK's third most popular snack after fresh fruit and chocolate. We just can't get enough of those curly wafers of fried spud.
But I have a shameful confession to make. I'm not a great crisp devotee. Actually I prefer hula hoops. Or Bombay Mix. So I'd better not set foot in Saratoga Springs. An angry mob might just chase me out of town.
* So it says in Wikipedia.