English 48

Potato Chips

Every time a person crunches into a potato chip, you are1 enjoying the delicious taste of one of the world’s most famous snacks – a treat that might not of existed2 without the contribution of inventor George Crum. Born to an African-American father and a Native American mother, Crum was raised in upstate New York and trained as a chef there3 as well.

In the summer of 1853, Crum was employed at Moon Lake Lodge; an elegant4 resort in Saratoga Springs. On Moon Lake Lodge’s restaurant menu were French-fried potatoes, prepared5 by Crum in the standard thick-cut style that had been popularized in France, whose capital is Paris,6 and enjoyed by Thomas Jefferson as ambassador to that country. [7]

As the story goes, Crum was working in the kitchen one day when a customer sent back his French-fried potatoes, complaining that they were too thick. Crum cut and fried a thinner batch, but they8 also met with disapproval. Exasperated, Crum decided to teach the customer a lesson by producing French fries to thin and crisp to9 skewer with a fork. He sliced a new batch of potatoes as thin as he possibly could and then fried them until they were hard, and crunchy.10 Finally, he added a generous heaping of salt.

[11] The guest was ecstatic over the browned, paper-thin potatoes. Soon, they began to appear on the menu as Saratoga Chips, being requested by other diners.12 A new snack was born!

Seven years later, Crum opened his own restaurant, which featured a basket of potato chips on every table.13 Within a few years he was catering to wealthy clients, including the Vanderbilts, Jay Gould, and Henry Hilton. By the time the restaurant closed in 1890, potato chips had became14 a staple of Northern cooking.

Though Crum never attempted to patent his invention, the snack was eventually mass produced and sold in bags. In the 1920s, the invention of the mechanical potato peeler paved the way for potato chips to shift15 from a specialty item to a top-selling snack food. Today, potatoes are second in human consumption only to rice. And as thin, salted, crispy chips, they are America’s favorite snack food.