Saturday Surprise — Potato Chips!!!

Happy Saturday, Friends!!!  I hope you all have plans to get outside and do something fun this weekend.  It is gorgeous here, with temps in the 80s, though I hear they are supposed to start climbing later today.  Hugh … did your mountain of snow finally melt?  Daughter Chris is in Chicago this weekend for a Pipes & Drums band competition, so it’s just me and Miss Goose.  We lead a very quiet life when the chatterbox is gone!  Goose works on her art, I work on my writing, and we set our phones for an alarm every two hours so we remember to have a brief conversation – it usually consists of “Hi … I love you … are you hungry yet?”  “Hi … I love you back … no, but are you?”  “Nope … talk to you again in a couple of hours.” And then we return to what we were doing.  This weekend, though, we have promised ourselves that we will watch Wreck It Ralph with a big bowl of popcorn.  This idea came thanks to Roger, who told me he was chuffed to find that Wreck It Ralph II will be out in November.  And if you don’t know what Wreck It Ralph is … Google it!wreck-it-ralph


Every now and then, odd and random bits ‘n pieces of things pass through my email.  Most I just toss, but sometimes the subject line catches my eye and I dig a little deeper.  One such tidbit came about this week and as soon as I saw it, I thought it might be a fun bit of trivia to share with you for Saturday Surprise!  It has a bit of mystery, a bit of history, and a bit of controversy … all surrounding, of all things, the origins of the potato chip (or potato crisp as they call them across the pond).

The story comes courtesy of Tuan Nguyen, writing for ThoughtCo.com

George Crum

George Crum (born George Speck; July 15, 1824 – July 22, 1914) was a renowned chef who worked at Moon’s Lake House in Saratoga Springs, New York during the mid-1800s. According to culinary legend, Crum invented the potato chip during his work at the restaurant.

The Potato Chip Legend

George Speck was born to parents Abraham Speck and Diana Tull on July 15, 1824. He grew up in upstate New York and was hired at Moon’s Lake House in the 1850s.

Moon’s Lake House was a high-end restaurant that catered to wealthy Manhattan families when Speck was hired. A regular patron of the restaurant, Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, frequently forgot Speck’s given surname. Vanderbilt often asked waiters to relay various requests to “Crum,” thus giving Speck the name he is now known by.

According to popular legend, the potato chip was invented when a picky customer (Vanderbilt himself, according to some reports) repeatedly sent back an order of French fries, complaining that they were too thick. Frustrated with the customer’s demands, Crum sought revenge by slicing a batch of potatoes paper-thin, frying them to a crisp, and seasoning them with lots of salt. Surprisingly, the customer loved them. Soon enough, Crum and Moon’s Lake House became well-known for their special “Saratoga chips.”

Disputing the Legend

A number of notable accounts have disputed the story of Crum’s culinary innovation.

Recipes for frying thin potato slices had already been published in cookbooks by the early 1800s. Several reports on Crum himself, including a commissioned biography of the chef published in 1893 and his own obituary, were curiously missing any mention of potato chips whatsoever.

Crum’s sister, Kate Wicks, claimed to be the real inventor of the potato chip.

Wick’s obituary, published in The Saratogian in 1924, read, “A sister of George Crum, Mrs. Catherine Wicks, died at the age of 102, and was the cook at Moon’s Lake House. She first invented and fried the famous Saratoga Chips.” This statement is supported by Wicks’ own recollections of the tale, which was published in several periodicals during her lifetime. Wicks explained that she had sliced off a sliver of potato that inadvertently fell into a hot frying pan. She let Crum taste it and his enthusiastic approval led to decision to serve the chips.

Crum’s Legacy

Visitors came far and wide to Moon’s Lake House for a taste of the famous Saratoga chips, sometimes even taking a 10-mile trip around the lake just to get to the restaurant. Cary Moon, the owner of Moon’s Lake House, later tried to claim credit for the invention and began producing and distributing potato chips in boxes. Once Crum opened his own restaurant in the 1860s, called Crum’s, he provided every table with a basket of chips.

Crum’s chips remained a local delicacy until the 1920s, when a salesman and entrepreneur named Herman Lay began traveling throughout the south and introducing potato chips to different communities throughout the country.

At that point, Crum’s legacy was overtaken by the mass production and distribution of potato chips on a national scale.

I don’t imagine Mr. Crum ever anticipated the wide variety of (mostly bad) flavours we see on the grocery shelves today! chips-1chips-2chips-2chips-3

Now that you are craving potato chips, why not fire up the grill and make some burgers to go with those chips?  Whatever you do this weekend, keep safe and enjoy life!  And to send you on your way, how about a little song … one of my old favourites that can bring a smile to faces young and old!

31 thoughts on “Saturday Surprise — Potato Chips!!!

  1. George Crumb and William Kitchinir, may…
    Compete for fried potato recipe firsts of the day
    Both credited with chips
    Or is that ‘crisps?’
    Doesn’t matter, as they’re now all made by Lays.

    William Kitchinir is credited as writing up the first recipe for slivers of potato (crisps) fried in lard in 1817 in his ‘The Cook’s Oracle.’

    It is highly likely that that Crumbs sister may have seen a copy of this popular cook book as it went to the Americas. It still does not detract for Crumbs popularity with this new ‘chip’ at his restaurant.

    It might actually explain the different names that Brits and Americans have for one of the favourite snacks of the world.

    Crisps (Chips) are my weakness, but I only really like the plain ones… You can keep all the other flavours! I like my potatoes to taste like potatoes. 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks for the limerick to go with our chips! Good to see you! Yes, I sometimes enjoy the flavoured chips/crisps, but there’s nothing quite like a plain ol’ potato chip! Well … unless it’s a cookie. A cookie beats a chip. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Jill,

    I find stories like this fun and I do love my chips, or crums. I like the tale of how the pizza was invented. On the 11th of June 1889, to honor the Italian Queen, a Neapolitan pizza-maker Raffaele Esposito created the “Pizza Margherita”, a pizza made up pf with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, to represent the national colors of of the Italian flag.It became an instant hit.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 2 people

  3. There really are some absolutely awful potato chip flavours out there! Lol I like the Crum story 😉
    Just this morning my sons were talking about the Wreck It Ralph movie coming out in November. They’re still excited after seeing Incredibles 2 yesterday 😄

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  4. Nothing pleases the palate more than plain old potato chips with a bit of dip. These days the favorite is Heluva Good’s Dill Pickle, sadly a limited edition flavor…that necessitates indulging in vast quantities before it becomes but a memory. I must say that Crum’s Chips has a nice ring to it, more than Lay’s. Thank-you for putting a smile on my face this Saturday morning! I do believe that I have discovered the answer to “what’s for breakfast?” today too! Although it might not pair well with my second cup of coffee, sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A short P.S. is in order! I have been humming and singing “Puff the Magic Dragon” all day. I used to sing this song to my son when he was a wee bit of a babe and my two daughters when they were babes too. This was resurrected upon Benjamin’s birth and became a favorite of his…so much so, that I purchased Peter Yarrow’s book with the CD included. Total aside here : I once deluded myself in my youth into believing I could be a second Mary Travers. I played guitar in the 60’s, didn’t everyone? Alas, my voice was sadly lacking and instead I continued nursing school. Benjamin once said to me : “Gem, I think you sing good even if Mommy says you don’t.”, big sigh! I love this song and Benjamin will be delighted on Monday. Thank-you and just imagine how long this note would be were it not a short one!

      Liked by 1 person

      • AHA!!!! I planted an earworm! I love that song, and it’s great to walk to! Yeah, I tried my hand at guitar in the ’60s also, and you and I would likely make a great duet, for my singing is no better. I even annoy myself with my singing! As soon as I start, my girls put on their headsets and ear buds 😉 Being 90% dear doesn’t help 😀 And I LOVE your long comments! I think we have much in common and I always delight in your comments!

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    • A year or two ago, Lays had one of their promos that featured 4 different new flavours and consumers could vote on which would become a regular. I adored the New York Reuben flavour! Love at first bite! Miss Goose felt the same! But apparently the rest of the world felt differently. Sigh. Shortly after it was announced that the winning flavour was something else, I got the brilliant idea of seeing if I could find some that hadn’t sold yet online. Lo and behold, Amazon had some … at $15 per bag! Needless to say, I did NOT order any! Glad you enjoyed the post and hope you enjoyed your breakfast, too! 🍴

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    • And now you’re wishing the snow were back, eh? 😉 Yes, it’s fairly hot here too … 90 with a heat index of 100 and high humidity. Glad you enjoyed the story of the potato chip origin! 🙂

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    • Thanks! Good one … s’crump’tious!!! Yes, I bet it is hot there!!! It’s hot enough here, 90 degrees F today, but I’m sure it’s hotter where you are! Thanks for dropping by! Always happy to see you!

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  5. Interesting story, Jill, with a great but unexpected memory attached. And right after I wrote you a note about songs and people from the past that I love. Coincidence? Or great minds thinking alike. LOLITA!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Rarely do I believe in coincidences, so I will have to go with the great minds theory! I actually had a Marvin Gaye song picked out, but … a few hours before, I was walking and Puff The Magic Dragon came up on my playlist, and I decided it was a better choice. I have 3 very young (4-year-old) followers, and I thought they would enjoy it, as would we who were fans of PP&M back in the 60s. Of theirs, I think Blowin’ in the Wind has to be my favourite, though I love them all. G’nite … 😴

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