Lay's sold $4.13 billion worth of potato chips in 2023, according to Statista -- so it's safe to say the salty snack has experienced a huge boom in popularity since they were first invented. But when exactly were potato chips originally created, and who is responsible?
The exact origins are a little murky, but legend says that one city in particular is responsible for the popularization of the potato chip: Saratoga Springs, New York. The story goes that in August of 1853, an agitated customer grumbled about his serving of too-thick fries at a restaurant called Moon's Lake House in the upstate New York town. Back at that time, fries were typically served thick to mimic French-style potatoes. The customer is said to be none other than Cornelius Vanderbilt, although the story may have gone through several revisions over the years. Annoyed with the complaint, the chef then went the complete opposite route and served the customer exceptionally thin potatoes, fried with salt -- what we would call chips in today's world. Vanderbilt (or the anonymous complainer) thought the new dish was delicious, and the chef, a Saratoga Springs native named George Crum, was able to sell the potatoes under their new name, Crum's Saratoga Chips.
Multiple Moon's Lake House Employees Received Credit For The Invention
While this is the leading potato chip invention story with regard to George Crum, another version shifts part of the credit to a fellow employee at Moon's Lake House. This legend says that Kate Wicks, Crum's sister who worked at the restaurant, dropped a thin potato slice in hot oil on accident while she was making donuts. Crum tried it after it was fried, and the snack was born.
Regardless of which way the chef may have discovered the potato chip, his Saratoga Springs establishments made them hugely popular. Crum's new restaurant, which he opened in 1860, drew the attention of customers like the Vanderbilt's and Henry Hilton, and his snacks were rebranded to Original Saratoga Chips. But while it's clear a game-changing discovery was made in this upstate New York town in the 1800s, it's a little murky as to who is actually credited with the snack's invention. Most of Crum's obituaries don't say anything about chips, although Wicks' does. Two other Moon's Lake House employees, Hiram S. Thomas and Emeline Jones, were also credited with the invention in their obituaries. Although there is currently no origin story rivaling in popularity, it's possible that another city entirely is truly responsible for the potato chip.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.