On August 24, 1853, an unhappy restaurant customer, complaining that his potatoes were too thick and soggy, kept sending them back. Chef George Crum decided to slice the potatoes as thin as possible, frying them until crisp and added extra salt. To the chef’s surprise, the customer loved them, and they soon became a regular item on the restaurant’s menu under the name of “Saratoga Chips.”
Alternative explanations of the beginning of potato chips date them to recipes in Shilling Cookery for the People by Alexis Soyer (1845) or Mary Randolph’s The Virginia House-Wife (1824). There are many references between these dates to sliced potatoes being fried in grease but whether they were fried to a crisp is not clear.
What is clear is that by the late 1870s, the term “Saratoga Chips” was being widely used as a standard menu item on train cars, hotel restaurants, and street carts. The name carried on into grocers when the chips were made in larger batches by bakeries. They shipped them by wagon to the restaurants and grocers by the barrel, and the grocers would then sell to private families by the pound. Folks were instructed to bake the chips in a hot oven for a few minutes, and they would be as crisp as if fried that same day.
The Dayton, Ohio-based Mike-sell’s Potato Chip Company, founded in 1910, calls itself the “oldest potato chip company in the United States.” New England-based Tri-Sum Potato Chips, originally established in 1908 as the Leominster Potato Chip Company, in Leominster, Massachusetts, claims to be America’s first potato chip manufacturer.
- In the 20th century, potato chips spread beyond chef-cooked restaurant fare and began to be mass-produced for home consumption.
- Flavored chips were introduced in the 1950s.
- Potato Chip revenues are over $15 billion a year worldwide!
HOW TO OBSERVE
Grab a bag of potato chips to enjoy and use #NationalPotatoChipDay to post on social media.
Within our research, we were unable to identify the creator of National Potato Chip Day.
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