On this matter I have read other questions: “Sour cream” versus “soured cream”, “shaving cream” vs. “shave cream”. But, can someone explain what is the "Style Cream" to which this potato chips are associated to, as it seems to be from reading the following phrase on the packet:

American / Style Cream & Onion / Flavour

I have searched for "Style Cream" in Wikipedia, but I haven't found anything.

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  • 4
    Style cream makes me think of hair gel. Obviously not the intent here.
    – Cameron
    Jun 29 '12 at 18:04
  • 5
    American Style / Cream & Onion / Flavour. Which sounds horrid. Jun 29 '12 at 18:09
  • 1
    It appears to be an Indian subsidiary misprint (and they contain sheese powder), but according to this review, the chips do taste like America. Jun 29 '12 at 19:13
  • I have to get myself some of that Sheese powder.
    – user16269
    Jun 30 '12 at 1:23

I think what you have here is a problem of line-breaks. These crisps are American Style, Cream & Onion flavour. "Style" should be on the same line as "American".

  • How is it possible? Is Lay's wrong in parsing the phrase?
    – user19148
    Jun 29 '12 at 17:46
  • 4
    And by "cream" they presumably mean "sour cream". I wonder where this is sold; in the U.S. they have "Sour Cream & Onion", but nothing with "American" in the name.
    – ruakh
    Jun 29 '12 at 17:52
  • 6
    I agree. I think they meant to say "American Style" (line 1), then "Sour Cream & Onion" (line 2). (These kinds of errors and gaffes in packaging are not all that uncommon, particularly overseas.) "American Flavour" is rather humorous, too, in an oxymoron kind of way.
    – J.R.
    Jun 29 '12 at 17:58
  • I thought at first from the title that this was a misprint of Styling Cream, a variant of Styling Gel, but I don't think that would go well with onion, at least not on potato chips. Jun 29 '12 at 18:47
  • 3
    The OP is (according to his profile) in Italy. Italian cuisine doesn't use "sour cream" (panna acida) - see this question - so chips that are flavored with sour cream are definitely "American-style".
    – MT_Head
    Jun 29 '12 at 19:04

This is a combination of bad layout and ambiguous punctuation.

The phrase is meant to be parsed as "(sour, by implication) cream and onion in the American style". Because the adjectival phrase "American style" is broken across two lines, miscapitalized, and does not have a hyphen in the adjectival phrase, the implication by layout is that "style", to use a programming term, binds more tightly than the full phrase, leading to the false conclusion that "style cream" is something that exists. This should have been laid out as

Cream and Onion

to ensure that the phrase wasn't misinterpreted. Note the hyphen and lower-case "s" in style, which says "this is a single adjectival phrase, to be parsed as a unit".

American Style
Cream and Onion

would have communicated the intended meaning, despite being ambiguously punctuated, because the layout implies the association of "American" and "Style" instead of "Style" and "Cream".

I'd guess this was the original layout, and someone tweaked the font size up, causing "Style" to move to the next line; the tweaker, not knowing the English rules for adjectival phrases, decided to move "style" to the second line because it was "looked nicer" (one word on top, one on the bottom). The little "new" flag was probably also an unconscious impetus to break the line after "American", as it crowds the first line a little.

To be completely accurate, this should have been

Sour Cream and Onion

There, that's thoroughly over-analyzed.