by Stef Jantz, Food Columnist
A man walks into a diner and orders fried potatoes. He was unhappy with his order so he sent them back to the kitchen and requested the potatoes to be cut thinner.
The chef wanted to show him up and decided to cut them as thin as possible and fry them. The customer loved them!
Thus, the famous story of how the potato chip was created.
In 1853, Cornelius Vanderbilt was the unhappy customer who left a happy man, and George Crum was the famous chef of Native American and African heritage in Saratoga Springs, New York.
The story became so well known that in 1976 American Heritage magazine called George Crum, also known as George Speck, the “Edison of Grease.” But the story may be bogus all together.
There’s no official record of how they were invented but potato chips were pointed out many times in history such as in “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens, where he refers to them as husky chips of potatoes.
Potato chips became popular in the 1920s. Laura Scudder, from California, started selling chips in wax paper bags that were sealed with an iron to reduce crumbling and keep them fresh. Another businessman from North Carolina, Herman Lay, began selling chips from the trunk of his car to grocery stores.
By 1938, Mr. Lay became so successful in his operation that his brand was the first to go into mass production and the first successfully marketed national brand.
He was the first to create the “ruffle” to make chips more sturdy and less likely to break.
My big thing is flavor. Flavor speaks volumes to food if you know what to combine.
A huge thanks to the owner of an Irish chip company, Joe “Spud” Murphy!
In the 1950s he developed a technology on how to add flavor to the cooking process creating the first two flavors of cheese & onion and salt & vinegar.
Of course, many others had to follow suit and try to duplicate Spud’s technology or serve interest in securing the rights, but let the games begin!
There are so many delicious flavors out there now that sometimes it’s hard to choose.
Nacho cheese, ranch, BBQ, taco, dill pickle (mmm…..), sour cream and onion, and oh my goodness the list goes on. Not only can you thoroughly enjoy them by themselves but cooking with them is pretty tasty.
You can use them as a crust on chicken and casseroles or even as a thickening agent in soup or making mashed potatoes. Did you know you can even add them to cookies?
It gives them that sweet and salty flavor and boy is it delicious! I think the most memorable thing is putting them on a sandwich.
Back in those summer days as a kid, you grabbed that lunch pail or brown bag, took out the bologna sandwich, grabbed the chips, piled them on, and smashed that baby together.
Those little moments of being a kid eating potato chips tend to stick be- cause I know many people who still love doing this as do I. Chips are a wonderful addition that gives food that extra crunch that seems to please the soul.
So, as you grab for that next bag of salty goodness, give a little thanks for the small things we are so very lucky to have and that some mysterious soul created.