“Double dipping is a myth. You don’t actually transfer germs from it,” my friend said to me, justifying dipping her already bitten tortilla chip back into the guacamole. That can’t be true, I thought, but I let her go for it anyway (good friend, I know).

When I questioned her more, she seemed pretty confident about what she had said, claiming that she had “read it somewhere.” So, I decided to get to the bottom of looking down upon the act of double dipping. I wanted to see if my friend actually did know her stuff. And here is what I found.

Turns out, some researchers at Clemson University did a bunch of experiments to try to understand the science behind double dipping. They started by dipping bitten and unbitten crackers in water and testing the water to see how much bacteria it contained. They found that there were 1,000 more bacteria per millimeter in the water after the bitten cracker was dipped than after the unbitten cracker was dipped.

Next, they tested the amount of bacteria in different kinds of dips after a bitten cracker was dipped in it. They found that salsa had five times more the bacteria than cheese and chocolate dips had after being dipped into by a bitten chip.

double dipping

Photo by Sydney Segal

But how much does this actually matter? Well, turns out most dips already have a lot of bacteria in them, so adding a little more bacteria might not necessarily be the worst thing in the world.

I’m not saying go ahead and double dip next time you’re at a party, but maybe my friend was sort of right that double dipping isn’t as bad as we all think. If you are by yourself, by all means, go for it. At a party, ehh, it’s a little riskier.

The moral of the story is this: stop feeling guilty about that one time you double dipped your pita chip into the artichoke dip while no one was looking. You probably didn’t do any harm.