History of the U.S.: A Chip Off of the Old Potato
In 1853, Saratoga Springs was a fashionable resort destination in upstate New York, providing recuperation and relaxation for rich folks fleeing the filthy, squalid city. Today, however, the Springs are equally famous for being the birthplace of the potato chip, invented by George Crum, a chef employed by the luxurious Moon Lake Lodge.
Like many brilliant inventions, the first batch of potato chips resulted from a failed attempt to do something else. Crum’s specialties were French fries, usually prepared in the traditional thick-cut style, producing meaty wedges with the skin unpeeled. But on August 24, 1853, a particularly troublesome guest sent his fries back to Crum’s kitchen, complaining they were too chunky. Crum obligingly produced another dish of more slender fries, but these too were sent back. Completely riled up, Crum decided to create fries so impossibly thin and brittle the finicky guest wouldn’t be able to spear them with a fork. To make sure they were inedible, he fried them for even longer and then coated them liberally with salt.
Of course the plan backfired, and the guest pronounced the dish delicious. Soon other diners wanted to sample the addictive chips.Before long “Saratoga chips” were packaged in portable paper
bags and were being sold across New York and New England. In 1860 Crum opened his very own restaurant, where every meal started with a basket of potato chips.
(Delicious photo from TheKitchn)
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