Speed Reads

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Japan is in the grip of a potato chip panic

A Japanese snack company called Calbee announced Monday it would stop selling 18 types of potato chips and suspend the sale of 15 more after a bad potato harvest made normal production impossible. Faced with a shortage of the crispy snack, Japanese consumers have since gone on a chip-buying spree, emptying store shelves and reselling bags of chips for as much as six times their normal price online.

A second Japanese brand, Koikeya, has likewise discontinued seven chip varieties, compounding the panic. Koikeya uses exclusively Japanese potatoes, the bulk of which are grown on a single island that was damaged by typhoons last year.

Calbee was importing American potatoes to supplement its supply, but decided they are "of insufficient quality and cannot cover the deficits" — which is totally fine, because it means Americans get to enjoy more of the cheap, delicious snack that we invented.