How Much Air Is in Your Favorite Bag of Popcorn?

Greenseas, iStock via Getty Images
Greenseas, iStock via Getty Images / Greenseas, iStock via Getty Images

Many snack fiends are familiar with the disappointment of opening a fresh bag of chips or another crunchy snack, only to find it half empty. Pumping a package with a cushion of nitrogen helps protect the delicate goods inside, but how much of what you're paying for really comes down to stale air?

If popcorn is your snack of choice, the answer is more than half, according to new data shared by Direct Air. The UK air compressor supply company found that the contents of an average bag of popped popcorn are only 46 percent snack food and 54 percent air. Though every bag of popcorn contains some air, the proportions of some brands are more deceptive than others. Proper Corn peanut butter and almond-flavored popcorn was the worst offender, with the air pocket making up 71 percent of every bag. It's followed by the sweet and salty and simply salted flavors from the Nude Popcorn Company, each of which come in bags that are 62 percent air.

Other companies are more generous with their products. The salted caramel popcorn from M&S makes up 69 percent of each package. The item also turned out to be the cheapest on Direct Air's list at just £.57, or roughly $.75.

If you're looking to get the most popcorn or chips for your buck, there's a trick that doesn't involve sneaking a peak inside the bag. Since the U.S. passed the federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act in 1966, manufacturers have had to print the net weight on their food labels. That number indicates how much food you're really getting—regardless of the size of the bag.