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As we were enjoying some peanuts that have been sitting out in the Wisconsin humidity the last several days, this question came to mind:

What do you call a substance (especially a food) that is made softer (less crunchy) after it has taken on moisture from humid air?

The word soft doesn't capture it - there's still some crunch. They're not stale either. Nor is delicious a good choice (my personal opinion). :-)


Sample sentence: "On a hot, humid summer day at the ballpark, the sun's heat kept the original roasted crunchiness of our bag of peanuts. The leftovers that sat home in the kitchen through the following cool, humid spell didn't fair so well; they mostly went _________."


Disambiguation: I'm specifically looking for what you call the substance after it has taken on the moisture (as compared to the ability of the substance to take on moisture).

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    It’s become soggy. Ok maybe peanuts don’t get soggy. Hamburger buns do though. – Jim Aug 19 '17 at 19:17
  • @Jim Indeed. That's what makes finding a word for this tricky. For hard foods like peanuts, the moisture doesn't get them to the level of soggy. There's still a crunch, but it's much less. Something in between crunchy and soggy (at least how I connote soggy). – Edward Brey Aug 19 '17 at 19:34
  • It might be a bit much, and not necessarily about humidity, but 'acclimatized' might be a sort of euphemism to describe their state. "Humidify" would directly mean to add moisture to.. 'humidified' would be an adjective form ... although I think people would expect something humidified to actually be moist. – Tom22 Aug 21 '17 at 0:27
  • These peanuts are damp, soft, uncrunchy, limp. They've taken on moisture, they've lost their crunch, they are swollen. Could you show a sample sentence? – aparente001 Aug 21 '17 at 5:56
  • @aparente001 "Lost their crunch" as accurate and descriptive. Even though not a single word, it's the best option I've seen. I added a sample sentence. – Edward Brey Aug 21 '17 at 12:02
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limp

Adj. 1. limp - not firm;

Related:

"wilted lettuce" wilted stale - lacking freshness, palatability, or showing deterioration from age;

"stale bread";

"the beer was stale"

(Based on WordNet 3.0)

Usage note: "Limp" is to asparagus as "stale" is to bread and "flat" is to beer. For example, https://www.tasteofhome.com/cooking-tips/vegetables/revive-limp-asparagus explains how to "revive limp asparagus." But note, I had never seen "limp" used for nuts, only vegetables. But I think it works, and apparently H.E. Bates does too, writing "pineapples, drenched in sticky sweetened tinned milk and sprayed with rather stale limp nuts" in a book called "The Nature of Love."

On a hot, humid summer day at the ballpark, the sun's heat kept the original roasted crunchiness of our bag of peanuts. The leftovers that sat home in the kitchen through the following cool, humid spell didn't fair so well; they mostly went limp.

lose their crunch

Sun Chips Bag to Lose Its Crunch

By Suzanne Vranica

Updated Oct. 6, 2010 12:01 a.m. ET

Frito-Lay, the snack giant owned by PepsiCo Inc., says it is pulling most of the biodegradable packaging it uses for its Sun Chips snacks, following an outcry from consumers who complained the new bags were too noisy.

Touted by Frito-Lay as 100% compostable, the packaging, made from biodegradable plant material, began hitting store shelves in January. Sales of the multigrain snack have since tumbled.

On a hot, humid summer day at the ballpark, the sun's heat kept the original roasted crunchiness of our bag of peanuts. The leftovers that sat home in the kitchen through the following cool, humid spell didn't fare so well; they mostly lost their crunch.

  • The example phrases for limp use the word stale. Is that intentional? – Edward Brey Aug 21 '17 at 14:54
  • The text you copied is from the thesaurus section of the web page for limp. Those examples are for the related word stale (the blue arrow means related word); they're not for limp. – Edward Brey Aug 21 '17 at 16:55
  • @EdwardBrey - Okay. I hope that's better. – aparente001 Aug 21 '17 at 17:44
  • Related words are not helpful in this context. The whole point is finding just the right words. Related words that are more or less removed from the core meaning don't help much. Personally, I think lose there crunch is a good suggestion, but limp misses the mark. If you think otherwise, support your suggestion with meaning for the word limp itself, not for other words that happen to be related. – Edward Brey Aug 21 '17 at 17:48
  • - "not firm." // You can use either one of my suggestions. "Lose their crunch" is just fine. – aparente001 Aug 21 '17 at 18:23
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The word you're looking for is Hygroscopic.

According to the OED, hygroscopic is an adjective, meaning:

1 (of a substance) tending to absorb moisture from the air.

  • 1
    Hygroscopic describes a persistent attribute. A peanut is hygroscopic when it's fresh and dry from the store, and it remains hygroscopic after it's lost some of its crunch from moisture. I'm looking for the state-specific that means the latter. – Edward Brey Aug 19 '17 at 20:41
  • @Edward Brey Then you need to disambiguate your question. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 19 '17 at 20:42
  • @EdwardBrey: I think in that case, 'softened' would be OK. That doesn't necessarily imply that they are 'soft', just that their state has altered and that they are now softer than they were. – Kiloran_speaking Aug 19 '17 at 20:46
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    Why the downvote? Given that I posted this answer before the disambiguation! – Kiloran_speaking Aug 20 '17 at 8:23
  • 1
    Agreed. I upvoted to compensate. Plus it's an insightful answer anyway. – Edward Brey Aug 21 '17 at 1:21
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Spongy: "soft and full of holes or water : resembling a sponge."

The nut I found lodged between my toes after a night of carousing in the heavy humid air was spongy, but delicious.

  • Losing a bit of crunch from humidity is one thing; a beer bath is quite another. – Edward Brey Aug 19 '17 at 21:48
  • @edward Spongy is spongy. Did the peanuts feel spongy as you chowed down in that memorable Wisconsin summer? – Zan700 Aug 19 '17 at 22:02
  • Angle food cake is spongy. The moisture-infused peanuts were crunchy, albeit noticeably less so than when they were new. – Edward Brey Aug 19 '17 at 22:04
  • I don't know about angle food cake, but sponge cake is reputedly spongy. If a sponge cake was left out in the San Fernando Valley heat for three days, it would be indistinguishable from a peanut (texture wise). In your original post you go far beyond peanuts and ask about "food." If a quality French roll were left out in the Wisconsin humidity for three days would if feel spongy? – Zan700 Aug 19 '17 at 22:15
  • The word to describe the resulting substance varies depends on its hardness. Substances like bread that start soft become softer, to the point of spongy, as suggested. Harder substances, such as peanuts and potato chips, also become softer, but not to the point of spongy. They still have an appreciable hardness. It's that degraded hardness, crunchiness, and crispness, that feels like it wants a word to capture it. – Edward Brey Aug 19 '17 at 22:27

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