Q:

How did George Crum invent potato chips?

A:

Quick Answer

According to legend, George Crum invented the potato chip when working as a cook after a diner sent back French fries as too soggy; in an act of defiance, Crum deliberately overcooked thinly sliced potatoes, and the potato chip was born. However, experts dispute this account.

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Full Answer

Crum worked as cook in the Moon Lake Lodge in Saratoga, New York. On an August night in 1853, a picky customer, Cornelius Vanderbilt in some versions of the story, allegedly sent back his food to the kitchen, complaining the French-fried potatoes were too thick and soggy. Crum prepared another thinner batch, but that too was rejected. In a fit of anger, Crum cut the next batch of potatoes wafer-thin, fried them to a point where a fork would cause them to crumble and doused them with salt. To his surprise, Vanderbilt loved them, and other diners started to order them as well. Soon thereafter, Crum opened his own restaurant and served his Saratoga crisps at every table, but he never patented his idea, so his story remains unverified.

Another version has his sister, who worked at the same restaurant, accidentally frying a thin sliver of potato that Crum salted, ate and decided to serve. However, experts point to British cookbooks that have recipes for what are essentially potato chips that predate Crum and his sister by many years.

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