In the mid 1960s, there was a television commercial extolling the Animal Removal Port St Lucie, crispy goodness of potato chips. Its catch phrase was”I bet you can not eat just one!” A small nibble off the edge of a potato chip, regardless of what your good intentions, led from the nibble to a normal size snack. Without thinking, you had eaten the entire chip in a blink of an eye. You thought to yourself, another processor can’t hurt. Nor the next one, nor the one after that. What was happening?! Good heavens! Was the commercial right? Were you turning into a potato chip junkie?
Let’s shed some light on the roots of the crunchy treat.
In the mid 1850s, skillet was an accepted and popular form of American cooking. They weren’t eaten with the fingers but rather, served with a fork, to be consumed in a genteel manner. Restaurants across the country were serving fried potatoes, but it was only when the chef at Moon Lake Lodge in Saratoga Springs, New York, sliced the potato pieces so sparse did they become the rage.
It is generally thought by food historians who George Crum was the inventor of the potato chip. He was a brilliant personality in the Saratoga Springs area.
In 1853, George Crum was working as a cook at the Moon Lake Lodge resort. As stated before, fried potatoes were a popular fare. Crum made another batch, cut thinner than before and also fried, but these, too, were rejected as being too thick. By this time, Crum was aggravated and in a fit of pique, took it upon himself to rile the guest by making him French fries that were much too thin and sharp to be skewered by a fork.
His “revenge” backfired on him. The fussy diner was ecstatic about the paper-thin potatoes and other guests requested Crum’s potatoes for themselves. Crum initially called his bite”Potato Crunches” but the dish, now a house specialty, was recorded on the menu as”Saratoga Chips.” Soon thereafter, they were packed and sold, at first locally, but rapidly grew in popularity throughout the New England region.
In 1860, Crum opened up his own restaurant which featured his chips as the house specialty. He put baskets of the chips on each table and they became an essential drawing point to the success of his restaurant. Other than marketing the chips, Crum foolishly did not patent or protect his invention.
Peeling and slicing potatoes was dull and slow. The 1920s invention of the mechanical potato peeler caused the potato chip industry to skyrocket from being a little specialty item to a top-selling snack food.
Potato chips were mostly a Northern dinner dish for several decades after their creation. But, in the 1920s, merchandizing and distribution of this snack took a turn for the better; their popularity increasing year by year throughout the entire 20th century.
From the 1920s, Herman Lay, a traveling salesman working the Southern region of the country, was a significant catalyst in popularizing the chips from Atlanta to Tennessee. He peddled Crum’s creation to Southern grocers straight out of the trunk of his car, his name and company eventually becoming synonymous with this crisp and salty treat. In 1932, he bought a potato chip factory in Atlanta. 1938 marked the start of Lay’s Brand Potato Chips.
The early part of the 20th century brought forth several companies building large factories to the mass production of potato chips. The 1920s gave birth of three businesses which specify the potato chip market.
In 1921, he used the extras to make potato chips and sold them in brown paper bags as Wise Potato Chips through the delicatessen.
Salie made the chips which were promoted and sold by her husband Bill, and were known as Hanover Home Brand Potato Chips.
1926 was noteworthy for potato chip distribution. Paper was not very practical, as oil from the chips could seep through the sacks and on the customer’s hands.
Laura Scudder had a household chip business in Monterey Park, California. She understood the inherent flaw in the paper sacks; nobody enjoyed being covered with cooking oil. Her motivated solution for this problem was brilliant. . This day, the employees hand-filled chips to the waxed paper bags and then sealed them with a warm iron. Voila! Greaseproof bags, ready to be delivered to retailers.
Potato chips are now the favorite snack of Americans, who eat more potato chips than any other population in the world.
In colonial times, New Englanders considered potatoes to be ideal as pig fodder. They believed that eating these tubers shortened a individual’s life expectancy. The New Englanders weren’t concerned that potatoes were fried in fat and covered with salt (every cardiologist’s bane); they had more worry about joys of the flesh. They considered the potato, in its pristine state, contained an aphrodisiac that led to actions and behaviour felt to be harmful to long life; according to those souls, eating an unadulterated potato led to the demon SEX and needless to say, sex resulted in the downfall of man. For more than over a century, we have known this to be not true and only the result of misdirected thinking.
Mass potato chip production, in modern facilities, uses continuous fryers or flash frying. Shockingly, some potato chips are made from reconstituted potato flakes (yuck!) In place of raw potato slices.
I bet you can’t eat just one…