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Origins of Potato Chips and its appeal!

Origins of Potato Chips and its appeal! August 25, 2007

It is amazing how small changes to make things easier creates immensely popular stuff. Potato Chips are one such thing! It might just look like a small thing.. but the world-wide sales of potato chips in 2002 was around USD 30 billion! And you would have thought that a potato chip was that useless snack? Well, it does account for around a THIRD of all Global Snack Food Market share!!

It is believed that the original potato chip recipe was created by Native American/African American chef George Crum, at Moon’s Lake House near Saratoga Springs, New York on August 24, 1853. He was fed up with a customer — by some accounts Cornelius Vanderbilt (although this has been disproved [1]) — who continued to send his fried potatoes back, because they were too thick and soggy. Crum decided to slice the potatoes so thin that they couldn’t be eaten with a fork. Against Crum’s expectation, the guest was ecstatic about the new chips. They became a regular item on the lodge’s menu under the name "Saratoga Chips". They soon became popular throughout New England. Eventually, potato chips spread beyond chef-cooked restaurant fare and began to be mass produced for home consumption; Dayton, Ohio-based Mike-sell’s Potato Chip Company, founded in 1910, calls itself the "oldest potato chip company in the United States" [2].

Before the airtight sealed bag was developed, chips were stored in barrels or tins. The chips at the bottom were often stale and damp. Then Laura Scudder invented the bag by ironing together two pieces of wax paper, thereby creating an airtight seal and keeping the chips fresh until opened. In 1934 Akron, Ohio potato chip maker K.T. Salem was the first to distribute chips in glassine wax paper bags. Today, chips are packaged in plastic bags, with nitrogen gas blown in prior to sealing to lengthen shelf life, and provide protection against crushing.

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