Foods made with olestra include all of Lay's light potato chip products and Pringles' fat-free potato chips. Olestra, also called by its brand name Olean, was chosen as an ingredient in these snacks because it's a fat substitute that adds no fat, calories or cholesterol to food products.
As of 2014, there are two popular brands using olestra in their potato chips: Lay's and Pringles. Lay's chips that have olestra in their ingredients include Lay's Light KC Masterpiece BBQ, Doritos Light Nacho Cheese, Ruffles Light Original, Ruffles Light Cheddar & Sour Cream and Tostitos Light Restaurant Style. Pringles chips made with olestra include Fat-Free Bar-B-Q Pringles and Fat-Free Sour Cream and Onion Pringles.
Olestra was discovered accidentally in 1968 by F. Mattson and R. Volpenhein, who were Procter & Gamble researchers. In 1996, Olestra was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use as a replacement for fats and oils in prepackaged ready-to-eat snacks. It was initially used in potato chips under the WOW brand by Frito Lay. The FDA claimed that olestra “meets the safety standard for food additives, reasonable certainty of no harm.”
In the late 1990s, Olestra lost its popularity due to side effects, which include diarrhea, cramps and gas. It was also determined that consuming this synthetic fat can prevent a person's body from absorbing vitamins from healthy carotenoids found in fruits and vegetables. Regardless of the side-effect warnings, products containing the olestra can still be purchased in grocery stores, as of 2014.