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Fast food and snack brands are jumping into NFTs as publicity stunts.

By Jelisa Castrodale
March 18, 2021
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Earlier this week, Pringles announced the release of a limited-edition flavor that it's calling CryptoCrisp. But before you add two cans of CryptoCrisp to your next Instacart order, prepare to be disappointed—and possibly confused. All 50 packages of the new flavor only exist as NFT artwork, and they're being auctioned off exclusively on the Rarible platform.

Pringles CrypotCrisp
Credit: Pringles

As of this writing, the highest bid is 0.1 WETH, as payment on Rarible can only be made using cryptocurrency. (In less-technical terms, that's the equivalent of about $180.) The winning bidders will receive one of 50 versions of the animated Pringles package on the Rarible website, one where Julius Pringles raises his eyebrows as if to say "We're really doing this, huh?" And Pringles isn't the only food brand to dive into NFTs: Last week, Taco Bell also put a bunch of taco GIFs up for sale.

All proceeds from the sale of the inedible NFT will go to Vasya Kolotusha, the artist who designed the animation. NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are hard to ignore at the moment, and sometimes they seem even harder to understand. As CNN explains, an NFT is a "piece of digital content linked to the blockchain," but they differ from blockchain-reliant cryptocurrencies like bitcoin or ethereum because of that "non-fungible" part. One bitcoin—or a dollar bill, a mass-produced paperback, or even a pair of socks—could be replaced with another identical object and still have the same value.

By contrast, non-fungible tokens are unique, like a one-of-a-kind trading card or an original piece of art. "Think of it like a digital passport that comes with an asset," Nadya Ivanova, the chief operating officer of research firm L'Atelier, told the Wall Street Journal. "They allow for this trust and authenticity to be established in a way that we haven't been able to do before, whether it's with physical assets or digital assets."

So if you buy one of the 50 Pringles' CryptoCrisp 'flavors,' you'll get a certificate of authenticity proving that it's yours, and no one else can own that exact work. "But I can just right-click and save the MPEG-4 file of that spinning Pringles can," you might be saying to yourself. "So why would I want to pay for it?"

As the AP explains, it's for the same reason that going to the Louvre and taking an iPhone picture of the Mona Lisa doesn't mean that you 'own' the Mona Lisa. "All the time, money and effort you spend in your digital life, you can create value for that," Andrew Steinwold, a crypto analyst and investor, told the outlet. "You have property rights in the physical world. Why don't we have property rights in the digital world?"

And 'owning' a digital artwork could be an increasingly big deal—with increasingly big price tags. Last week, Christie's auctioned an NFT of graphic designer Beeple's The First 5,000 Days, and the digital work sold for $69.3 million. That makes it the third-most valuable piece of art sold by a living artist, putting the South Carolina man's NFT collage behind Jeff Koons' Rabbit and David Hockney's Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) which sold for $91.1 million and $90.3 million, respectively.

So maybe $180 for a can of chips you can't eat will ultimately be the bargain of the century. Or maybe you would've been better off to just buy several dozen real packages of Pringles. Ask us in a couple of years.