Do you have a favorite snack? If you’re like many kids, nothing makes a sandwich or a picnic complete like a big handful of potato chips. If you close your eyes, we bet you can almost taste the crunchy, salty goodness right now!

After rice, people eat more potatoes every year than any other food. Some people prefer mashed potatoes, while others would rather have French fries. For many people, though, nothing beats the flavor of thin potato chips. But just how did these snacks come into existence?

Would you believe it was an accident? It’s true! Potato chips were a happy accident that occurred in 1853 in upstate New York.

In the summer of 1853, George Crum worked as a chef at the elegant Moon Lake Lodge in Saratoga Springs, New York. One of his specialties was thick-cut French fries that were eaten with a fork.

One day, a customer complained that Crum’s French fries were too thick. Crum made a thinner batch, but the customer still thought they were too thick. Frustrated, Crum decided to make another batch so thin that they couldn’t be eaten with a fork.

Although he didn’t intend to please the customer with these paper-thin potato crisps, the customer loved them! Other customers began to request them and the potato chip was born. Crum added them to the Moon Lake Lodge menu as a new specialty called “Saratoga Chips.”

Potato chips remained a regional specialty item available only in restaurants for many years. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, though, many people began to make potato chips for sale in grocery stores.

The first of these people may have been William Tappendon of Cleveland, Ohio. In 1895, he started making potato chips in his kitchen for delivery to local stores. He eventually converted an old barn on his property into one of the first potato chip factories.

Making potato chips was a lot of work, since the potatoes had to be peeled and sliced by hand. That all changed in the 1920s, though, with the invention of the mechanical potato peeler. With the help of technology, potato chips grew from a local favorite into a nationwide sensation.

Today, potato chips are one of the most popular snack foods in the world. Many claim potato chips are America’s favorite snack food. They may be right! Retail sales of potato chips in the United States total over $6 billion each year. Now that’s a lot of chips!

90 Join the Discussion

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    • HOORAY, we’re glad to be WONDERing about our favorite crunchy snack with Mrs. Wall’s 4th grade class today! :)

      YUM, we love your favorite flavors of chips, too! We like that you thought about what it would be like to work in a potato chip factory– we Wonder what you would like to do when you grow up? We can’t wait to Wonder with you again tomorrow… SUPER guess! :)

  1. We enjoy the surprise of each Wonder of the Day! Today’s especially made us hungry! We study inventors in fourth grade, and some students are interested in exploring more about the inventor of potato chips. Some of our favorites are: sour cream and onion, barbecue, original, salt and vinegar, and cheddar cheese. Crunch! Crunch!

    • How COOL that you study inventors, like Mr. Crum! We are glad our Wonder Friends in Mrs. Coates’ Fourth Grade class are WONDERing about those crunchy potato chips today! We are glad you shared your favorite flavors with us, too! We’ve had a LOT of our Wonder Friends share their favorites– it’s fun to learn about everyone’s preferences!

      Thanks for spending time with us today– we hope you have a SUPER day! :)

  2. After watching today’s video our mouths are watering! You made us hungry! Some of us like Salt & Vinegar chips. We also like Sour Cream & Onion and BarBQ. :) We thought that the inventor of chips would be a man whose last name is Lay.

    P.S. We wonder what has been your most popular WONDER of the DAY? We think it might be the Beatbox post.

    • WOHOO, we agree with all the SUPER 2nd graders in the Library with Mr. P! We think Mr. Crum is WONDERful! How cool that you’ve learned something new about potato chips and the bags they come in… who would have thought that space could have so much power over the nitrogen-filled bags! Thanks for WONDERing with us today, Wonder Friends! :)

  3. Today’s wonder was “salt-tacular because everyone loves potato chips! We thought it was really cool how they made potato chips in the factory! We did a graph this morning about our favorite type of potato chips. Original flavor was the most popular. Salt and Vinegar and Barbeque were tied for our second favorite type of chip!

    • YIPPEE, we are so happy to know that Mrs. Poloski’s grade 4 students are here today! We think it’s super cool that you took a poll in class and made a graph about favorite potato chip flavors! WAY TO GO! Have a SUPER day– we hope you can snack on some potato chips with your lunch today! :)

  4. Miss Higgins’ class enjoyed the video and article. We LOVE potato chips. Miss Higgins was so excited because she used to live in Saratoga Springs, the birthplace of the potato chip! We were impressed that during the chip making process, the employees didn’t eat any. We think we’d have to try one, or more. :)

    • How FUN, our Wonder Friends in Miss Higgins’ 5th grade class are here! :) We think it’s SUPER cool that Miss Higgins has lived in the very place the potato chip was invented! We think there must be some SUPER secret chip recipes in Saratoga Springs!

      We would be tempted to eat potato chips on the job, too! However, we know that safety comes first and we wouldn’t want to pass along any germs or hold up the assembly line in the potato chip factory! Thanks for sharing your comment today, Wonder Friends! :)

  5. When we were reading the wonder today, everyone could taste the salty potato chips in our mouths! We were in potato chip HEAVEN! It was most interesting to see how the potato chips are made. Although, it was a little gross to see how much oil and salt are used. Our class likes all sorts of chips like Lays, Boulder Valley (we’re from Colorado!), Pringles, and Cheetos! Truly, today’s wonder of the day was the tastiest!

    P.S. We think the wonder of the day for tomorrow is about sand sculptures.

    • YUMM! We think it’s funny how our eyes and our stomachs are linked– our mouths water without smelling the potato chips, but just by seeing them on screen! We’re so happy Miss H’s AWESOME 5th grade class is WONDERing with us today! We bet you’ve got some SUPER delicious potato chips in Colorado– and you can probably find some that don’t use a lot of salt or oil, too!

      Thanks for joining us for our crunchy Wonder today! We will see you for a sandy Wonder tomorrow… :)

  6. We think tomorrow’s wonder might be about using thin rocks to make paint brushes, or possibly about taking water bottles and making a giant fish on the beach. Possibly we will learn how sea glass is made. Another idea is that it will be about making water colors.

    • HELLO to our SUPER friends in Mrs. Ryan’s class! We are so excited to know that you are WONDERing with us today– and we can’t wait to Wonder again tomorrow!

      We LOVE your WONDERful guesses… we think you’re on to something SUPER! :)

  7. We loved the video. We were wondering if there was a record for the largest potato chip ever created. It is almost lunchtime now, the students and I wonder how much more time until lunch!

    • We hope our Wonder Friends in Mr. Carrico’s class were able to snack on some potato chips! We LOVE WONDERing about one of our favorite types of potato snacks! We Wonder if you can find the largest potato chip as a class– we bet it’s impressive! :)

  8. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Here are some comments and quotes from my Reading Basics class!

    “We really liked watching the video on how the chips are cut and prepped to be shipped.” – Jon

    “I want to make the chips at my house too!”-Elliot

    “I liked the design of the potato chip bags.” – Kevin

    “I like thick potato chips.” -Stephen

    “I like to eat barbeque chips.” – Alexa

    Thanks for the wonder of the day :)

    • WOHOO, we are glad to see our Wonder Friends from NCHS Reading Basics Class are here today! We think you’ve been doing a great job of WONDERing about a favorite salty snack! Thanks for hanging out with us today! :)

  9. While we were reading this article, we thought it was interesting that potato chips were actually invented by accident by George Crum. What a wonderful accident!

    This article made us have a couple of wonders ourselves. Will there be any new brands of potato chips? Is it possible that machines or robots could replace the factory workers’ jobs?

    We also had a fun time discussing our favorite potato chips. Our class enjoys Lay’s, Pringles and Cape Cod Chips. For flavors, we love sour cream and onion, honey barbeque, and barbeque. While thinking of these delicious flavors, it made us think of Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” Contest, where you could win $1,000,000.00. We came up with a few flavors of our own, but we’re going to keep them a secret. ;)

    Happy WONDERing!

    • Great job WONDERing today! We’re SUPER excited that the students in Mrs. Kewriga’s 5th grade ELA class are here! It’s cool to learn something new and interesting about HOW potato chips were created! We hope you do some research about your own Wonders– they are GREAT!

      Also, we love your connection to discovering a new potato chip flavor! We hope we can taste your secret flavor soon! :)

  10. I love this! Chips are amazing and delicious! I love eating kettle chips with ketchup. I love Pringles too! YUM!YUM!YUUUUUUUUMMMM! :)

    I think tomorrow’s wonder is about making sand castles or maybe making art in the sand.

    • YUM, we like your style Jake! Your potato chip combinations sound DELICIOUS! We can’t wait to find out what tomorrow’s Wonder will be! :)

  11. I think the wonder of the day was soooooo cool and I think the next wonder is going to be about how to make really good and cool sand castles and sculptures!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

    • WOHOO, thanks for your comment today, Ashley! We are glad you are a potato chip fan, just like us! We can’t wait to see you tomorrow, Wonder Friend! :)

    • Hi there, Wonder Friend B, thanks for sharing your comment today! We are sorry to hear that today’s Wonder wasn’t your favorite, but we hope you come back soon! Have a WONDERful day! :)

    • Hey there Will, thanks for sharing your comment! We are so glad we could Wonder about potato chips together! We hope you have a SUPER day! :)

  12. I absolutely love Sour Cream & Onion, I really didn’t know anything about potato chips but the flavors. :D In Mrs. Mateo’s Ace class were ready to learn about new stuff, thank you for this interesting website and how you filled it with cool facts. THANK YOU ONCE AGAIN.

    • WOHOO, we are so glad you enjoyed our potato chip Wonder, Hayley! It’s so fun to learn with all our Wonder Friends in Mrs. Mateo’s class! Have a WONDERful day! :)

    • WOHOO, we like your enthusiasm, Kailee! Thanks for WONDERing with us today– you’ll see lots of Wonder Friends in the comments section who enjoyed today’s crunchy Wonder, too! :)

    • WOHOO, thanks for sharing your comment today, Hayley! We are so glad you enjoyed our Wonder today– thanks for stopping by! :)

    • Raise your hand if you love potato chips!! :) We love the original flavor, too, Colton! Thanks for commenting today and WONDERing with us! :)

    • WOHOO, we are glad you liked today’s crunchy Wonder, Llana! We hope you get to snack on some potato chips today– especially if they’re sour cream and onion flavored! :)

    • Great observation about today’s Wonder, Yurami! We bet you can make some potato chips of your own! With the help of an adult, you can bake potato chips using just a bit of oil– perhaps this will be a new favorite recipe in your family! :)

    • Hi there, Louisa, we’re so glad you enjoyed today’s Wonder video! We hope you learned something new about how potato chips are made and how they reach consumers, like us! Have a WONDER-filled day! :)

  13. I do love to eat chips, especially the BBQ chips. And it is true that this delicious chips just started by an accident. Can you imagine what would happen if that complaining guy just left and didn’t want anything, bye bye BBQ chips!!! :( :( :)

    • We share your love for potato chips, too, Carlos! We are so glad the accident happened otherwise we wouldn’t know the taste of BBQ chips– just like you mentioned! We hope your day is WONDERful! :)

  14. I learned lots of thing I never heard of if it wasn’t for wonderopolis.

    I learned that so many people live off of bags after bags of potato chips.

    Also potato chips were a lot of work, since the potatoes had to be peeled and sliced by hand. That all changed in the 1920s, though, with the invention mechanical potato peeler.

    It’s true! Potato chips were a happy accident that occurred in 1853 in upstate New York.

    • We are so glad to learn something new with our FABULOUS Wonder Friends, like you Jules! There has been a LOT of change over the years– now potato chip companies can make thousands of bags of chips each and every day! VERY COOL! :)

    • Hey Jules, thank you for sharing your opinion at Wonderopolis! We are glad that you recognize that there are some unhealthy ingredients used in a lot of potato chips– we hope you have a great time snacking on your salsa! :)

  15. Our students here in China also enjoy potato chips. We have many wonderful and unusual flavors. There are many meat flavors but also tomato, cucumber, kimchi (a very spicy kind of sauerkraut made in Korea), lemon and even blueberry.

    • Hello Mrs. R– we are SO excited that you and your WONDERful students are learning about potato chips with us today! It’s super cool to learn about new flavors or that different types of chips are available all over the world! We bet the kimchi flavor requires a glass of water, too– we bet the flavor is SPICY! Thank you for sharing your comment today! :)

    • It’s pretty cool to imagine such a great accident, Matt! We are glad that Mr. Crum discovered those crunchy snacks! :)

  16. I’ve been to a potato chip factory with my summer camp. They make Cape Cod potato chips in a the town near us. They gave us free bags of chips! It was a good tour. BBQ chips are my favorites.

    • WOW, what a COOL field trip, Patrick! It sounds like a terrific place to go– we bet you taste tested a LOT of chips! We hope you are able to snack on some delicious BBQ chips, Patrick! :)

    • Hello, Wonder Friend Avery! We love to snack on chips once in awhile, but we must agree with you about that grease! We think it’s important to snack on chips in moderation– we want to keep our bodies nice and healthy! We hope to Wonder with you soon! :)

  17. Hi wonderopolis! It’s me again Dyana and Avery is actually my best friend and yes we share the same love for potato chips. I know they are FULLLL of grease, but they’re sooo irresistible ( I’m sorry if I spelled that wrong…) I love them my favorite flavor is all dressed what’s yours?

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Dyana! We think it’s cool that you and Avery are friends! It’s fun to have things in common, like love for potato chips, with Wonder Friends! We know that potato chips have some stuff that’s not so great for us, so it’s important to remember to snack in moderation! We like barbecue and salt and pepper chips! Keep up the great WONDERing! :)

  18. Hi wonderopolis! It’s wonder friend Dyana again! I don’t usually snack on potato chips, but when I do, I go all out. And you are VERY right about eating healthy. I LOOOOOOOOOOOVEEEEE veggies and I don’t understand why, in TV shows they make veggies seem so bad because they really aren’t… my favorite veggie I think is… celery! What’s yours? :) :D ;)

    • Hi there, Dyana! We are VERY proud of you for pointing out that veggies are great for you– how awesome that you like to snack on veggies just as much as you enjoy potato chips! It’s unfortunate that some television shows and commercials portray vegetables and fruit in a bad way, but we know they are very important for our body to stay nice and healthy!

      We think you may enjoy this Wonder #253– Are Tomatoes Fruits or Vegetables? http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/are-tomatoes-fruits-or-vegetables/ :)

  19. Dear wonderopolis,
    I really enjoy learning about how potato chips were invented!
    Potato chips are one of my favorite snacks! I was really flabbergasted that they were invented by a mistake!
    I was wondering do you know when diferent flavors of potato chips wre invented? And do you know when the company Lays started?
    Sincerely, Vincent Ma

    • We bet you can do some WONDERing of your own, Vincent, to learn more about the evolution of potato chips! We are getting hungry just thinking about them! :)

  20. Dear Wonderopolis,
    I really liked learning about who invented potato chips. I liked learning about it because I like eating them. Next time you post something about potato chips could you please tell me where I could get some for my whole class?
    Sincerely,
    Damien

    • Damien, that’s a SUPER thoughtful idea! We bet it would be cool to have a potato chip day with you and your Wonder Friends– each of you could bring in your favorite kind of chips and you could taste them all! Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend John, your comment is making us hungry! YUM! Flavors, like sour cream and onion, came a bit later, but someone had to invent it, alright! We Wonder if you can find out who invented those delicious chips?! We’d love to learn more! :)

  21. Our 5th Grade Language Arts Ability Group is in the process of making recipes for potato chips. Here are some ideas we’ve had: Peanut Butter Chips, Lemonade Chips, Marsh-Fluff Chip Sandwich, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Covered Chips, Ice Cream Chips, Dinner Chips, Taco Chips, Ultimate Man Tester Chips (It has nacho powder barbecue salt, ghost pepper juice, chilli powder, and bacon grinds). We had lots of fun creating our own flavor of chips. We wonder if any of them could be marketable one day. Thanks for all your wonders that make us wonder!!

    • Hey there, Mrs. Spaulding’s Bright Stars! It sounds like your potato chip inventions are going to be TASTY! We think you have all been doing a SUPER job of using your creativity and imaginations… we hope to see these flavors on grocery store shelves soon! :)

  22. Potato chips were made in such a funky way!!! It must take a long time for a person to make potato chips by hand!!! I like potato chips, BUT my FAVORITE type of CHIP is BBQ CHIPS!!!!! Love yah WONDEROPOLIS!!!:):):):)

    • We are so lucky to have a great Wonder Friend like you, Happy Girl! :) Thank you for telling us about your favorite type of potato chip– BBQ chips go well with so many different foods! YUM! We like how you have been imagining the chips when they were first made. Keep up the great WONDERing! :)

  23. Hi there! I love this wonder! I’ve always loved potato chips!!! And I’ve always wondered who invented them….! My favorite is the original bag, and the sour cream and onion yummmmmm! Thanks wonderopolis! Keep doing your wonders!

    • Thanks so much for sharing your awesome comment, Madison! We are super excited that you liked our crunchy Wonder– and you even shared your favorite potato chip flavors! YUM! See you soon, Wonder Friend! :)

    • We LOVE your enthusiasm, David! Thanks for sharing your WONDERful comment about our potato chip Wonder! Do you have a favorite flavor? :)

    • YUM, David, that sounds delicious! What a great combination of flavors! Thanks for sharing your response, Wonder Friend! We look forward to WONDERing with you again soon! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Who invented potato chips?
  • How popular are potato chips?
  • What’s your favorite kind of potato chip?

Wonder Gallery

Try It Out

So what’s your favorite kind of potato chip? Do you like plain chips? Or are flavored chips, such as barbecue, sour cream and chive, or sea salt and vinegar more to your liking?

Many areas have local potato chip manufacturers that have their own special recipes that have been handed down over generations. Are there any local producers of potato chips in your area? If there are, you might want to see if they give tours of their kitchens. It can be a lot of fun to see potato chips being made.

Of course, if you’re really up for a challenge, why don’t you try to make some homemade potato chips right in your own kitchen? Here are a couple of online sites you and an adult can check out for recommendations and recipes:

Still Wondering

In Illuminations’ What Is the Best Chip? lesson, children use data analysis to seek answers to the types of questions often posed by consumer agencies.

Wonder Categories/Tags

Categories

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day turns the beach into an art studio!

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