As the story goes (Fox News), potato chips came about when an excellent chef, by the name of George Crum, had taken one pound too much criticism for his fried potatoes (in some instances of retelling, shoestring potatoes/shoestring fried potatoes). Too soft? Too thick? Fine. He sliced raw potatoes as thin as possible and fried them in fat. And once heavily salted, served them to his complaining customer in an elegant resort in Saratoga Springs, New York. Since then, potato chips have become America’s #1 snack food, and as a nation we consume an unimaginable quantity annually–1.2 billion pounds. One interesting side-note: Inventor George Crum was both African American and Native American, so he was restricted–by law–from patenting his invention.
Fox news didn’t say when Mr. Crum worked his magic with potatoes and boiling fat, but 62 years ago, a California newspaper said that first “Saratoga Chip” was served at Moon’s Lake House in 1853.
By 1860, Crum opened his own restaurant, and served baskets of freshly fried potato chips at each table.
Delving through historic newspapers showed me a few interesting things about potato chips throughout Americana.
First, they were a hit. Newspapers from California to New York shared instructions and tips for success with homemakers everywhere.
Second, potato chips were sold in grocery stores, as well as made at home. It seems nineteenth century homemakers liked convenience foods.
How much would that $0.22 in 1881 be, in today’s American dollars?
What cost $0.22 in 1881 would cost $5.55 in 2016. (latest year offered)
That’s interesting. For this particular item, inflation (per this Westegg Calculator) seems to hold true:
Third, Potato Chips were peddled by salesmen.
A transcription of the “WANTED” notice, immediately above:
WANTED–A pushing, go-ahead Fancy Groceries Salesman, one handling light groceries preferred, to SELL MEANEY’S EXCELSIOR POTATO CHIPS. Awarded First Premium by the American Institute Fair commission. Address P.J. MEANEY, 119 and 121 Fourth Place, Brooklyn, N.Y. fe20 2t*
~ The Baltimore Sun of Baltimore, Maryland on February 20, 1880
Fourth, Victorians were quick to invent kitchen implements that would make peeling of potatoes and chipping of those peeled potatoes easier. In case a paring knife wasn’t cutting it.
Copyright © 2017 Kristin Holt LC