The well-known accepted story of the potato chip starts in 1853 in Saratoga Springs New York, when frustrated cook George Crum was trying to appease a demanding customer. The customer, who is thought to be Cornelius Vanderbilt, a rich railroad mogul, complained that his fried potatoes were too thick for his liking and he sent them back to the kitchen, not once, but twice. Annoyed, Crum cut the potatoes very thin, fried them to a crisp and seasoned them with lots of salt in hopes to make them inedible to the customer. Yet to Crum’s surprise, the customer loved the dish. The owner of the restaurant started selling the potatoes soon after in paper cones and later in boxes.

The Accidental Inventor of the Potato Chip

Another story includes George’s sister, Catherine “Aunt Kate” Weeks. The story goes that Aunt Kate accidently invented the potato chip when she was cutting potatoes when one of the shavings fell into the fryer. After she fished it out of the oil, Crum saw the potato sitting on the counter and took a bite. He liked it so much that he insisted that they sell them. The incident was even mentioned in her obituary.

Fried Potato Shavings

But wait there’s more! Even though George Crum has been named the inventor of the potato chip, there were recipes for fried potato shavings in British cookbooks years before Crum was born. However, these potatoes were a quarter of an inch thick.

More Potato Chip Fun Facts:
  • Potato Chips were never patented.
  • Wax paper bags revolutionized the chip industry.
  • Joe “Spud” Murphy developed the technology to add seasonings during manufacturing.
  • In 1958, Barbecue flavored chips became the first flavored chips in the United States. The next flavor to be sold was sour cream and onion.
  • The invention of the mechanical potato peeler in the 1920’s helped the potato chip industry take off.
  • Lay’s potato chips were the first national potato chip brand.
  • The Frito-Lay Plant in Georgia cooks about 1 million pounds of potatoes a day to make an average of 175,000 boxes of chip.
  • During World War II, potato chip production was halted because they were declared a “nonessential food.”

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