What Christmas Item Was Invented by Tom Smith in 1847?

In 1847, Tom Smith, a British inventor, introduced Christmas crackers, or sparklers, to citizens in the United Kingdom and eventually other locations around the world. Like many inventions, Smith created the cracker inadvertently, when he added a final element of a chemical reaction to his sugary surprise, causing it to produce a dazzling small explosion when consumers pulled the ends in which the crackers came. Over time, Smith modified the cracker and produced many different versions, making the Christmas classic worthy of celebrations year-round.

Before starting production of the crackers full-time, Smith worked as a baker. Although he initially assumed a sales role in bakeries and sweet shops, Smith developed expertise in several confections, and eventually opened his own shop.

Although Smith earned a reputation as a popular baker in the London area, his success nearly doubled upon his return from a trip to Paris, armed with the popular treat called bon-bons. Smith initially wrapped bon-bons in tissue paper, which proved successful for a short time. He later boosted sales by selling his concoctions with hidden messages. Later, Smith tweaked the product again by elongating the tube, dropping the confection and having the tube pop with a small bang to reveal the hidden message. The item proved popular enough to gain Smith's attention full-time. The original cracker led to variations and shipments outside his native London. Demand did not wane after Smith's death, when his sons resumed production.