Who Created Potato Chips?

Quck answer

Potato chips were invented by George Crum, a Native American chef, in 1853. Legend has it that a customer complained that his fried potatoes were too thick, so Crum decided to slice them paper-thin and fry them until they were crispy. The customer loved the result, and potato chips were born. Initially called “Saratoga chips,” they became a popular snack and eventually evolved into the universally loved snack we know today. Crum’s invention paved the way for the potato chip industry, which has since become a multi-billion dollar business worldwide.

Do you have a preferred snack? For many kids, nothing completes a picnic like a large handful of potato chips. Close your eyes and try to envision it. We bet you can almost taste the crispy, salty deliciousness right now!

Potatoes are the second most-consumed food globally (after rice). Some enjoy mashed potatoes, while others prefer French fries. However, for many individuals, nothing surpasses crunchy potato chips. But how did these snacks come to be?

Would you believe it was unintentional? It’s true! Potato chips were accidentally created in 1853.

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

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

Crum didn’t intend to satisfy the customer with these paper-thin potato crisps. But the customer adored them! Others began to request them. That’s when 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 only available in restaurants for many years. Then, towards the end of the nineteenth century, people began selling them in grocery stores.

The first person to do so may have been William Tappendon of Cleveland, Ohio. In 1895, he started making potato chips in his kitchen and delivering them to local stores. Eventually, he converted an old barn on his property into one of the first potato chip factories.

The potatoes had to be peeled and sliced manually. This meant that making potato chips was a labor-intensive process. However, everything changed in the 1920s with the invention of the mechanical potato peeler. With this technology, potato chips transformed from a local favorite to a nationwide sensation.

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

Give It a Try

Do you want a snack? Find a friend or family member to assist you with the following activities:

Types of Potato Chips

Do you have a preferred variety of potato chips? Are you a fan of plain chips or do you enjoy flavored options like barbecue, sour cream and chive, or sea salt and vinegar? Many regions have local potato chip manufacturers with their own unique recipes that have been passed down through generations. Are there any local potato chip producers in your area? If so, you might want to check if they offer kitchen tours. It can be a fun experience to witness the process of potato chip production.

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try making homemade potato chips in your own kitchen? Ask an adult friend or family member to assist you in preparing one of the following recipes: How To Make Homemade Potato Chips or Homemade Baked Potato Chips Recipe.

Are potato chips a healthy snack? Request an adult friend or family member to take you on a field trip to a nearby grocery store. Select five of your favorite snack foods, including your preferred type of potato chips. Compare the nutritional information provided on the labels of each product. How many calories does each snack contain? What about fats, carbohydrates, and other nutrients and vitamins? What is your assessment? Where do potato chips stand on the healthy snack spectrum?

Sources of Wonder

  • http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/potatochips.htm (accessed 15 Aug. 2019)
  • http://www.zoomschool.com/inventors/page/p/potatochip.shtml (accessed 15 Aug. 2019)
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potato_chip (accessed 15 Aug. 2019)


1. Who is credited with inventing potato chips?

Potato chips are often attributed to George Crum, a chef at a resort in Saratoga Springs, New York, in the 1850s. It is said that a customer complained that his fried potatoes were too thick, so Crum sliced them paper-thin and fried them until they were crispy. The customer loved the result, and potato chips were born.

2. Were potato chips popular when they were first invented?

Initially, potato chips were not widely popular. They were mainly served as a novelty item at the restaurant where George Crum worked. However, their popularity grew over time as more people discovered their delicious taste and addictive crunch. Eventually, potato chips became a staple snack food in many households and a multi-billion dollar industry.

3. How did potato chips become a commercial success?

The commercial success of potato chips can be attributed to the industrialization of the snack food industry. In the early 20th century, companies started mass-producing potato chips and packaging them for distribution. Advertising and marketing campaigns also played a significant role in making potato chips a household name. Today, there are numerous brands and flavors of potato chips available worldwide.

4. Are potato chips a healthy snack?

While potato chips are undeniably tasty, they are not considered a healthy snack. Most potato chips are high in calories, unhealthy fats, and sodium. Additionally, the frying process used to make them can produce a substance called acrylamide, which is a potential carcinogen. It is best to consume potato chips in moderation and opt for healthier snack alternatives, such as air-popped popcorn or baked vegetable chips.

5. What are some interesting potato chip flavors?

Over the years, potato chip manufacturers have experimented with a wide variety of flavors to cater to different tastes. Some interesting potato chip flavors include sour cream and onion, barbecue, salt and vinegar, cheese and onion, dill pickle, and even more unique flavors like lobster bisque, truffle, or wasabi. These unique flavors often attract adventurous snackers looking for new taste experiences.

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