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!