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Potato chip

A potato chip or crisp is a thin slice of potato, deep fried or baked until crisp. Potato chips serve as an appetizer, side dish, or snack. Commercial varieties are packaged for sale, usually in bags. The simplest chips of this kind are just cooked and salted, but manufacturers can add a wide variety of seasonings (mostly made using herbs, spices, cheese, artificial additives or MSG). Chips are an important part of the snack food market in English-speaking countries and many other Western nations.

There is little consistency in the English speaking world for names of fried potato cuttings. North American English uses 'chips' for the above mentioned dish -- this term is also used in continental Europe -- and sometimes 'crisps' for the same made from batter, and 'French fries' for the hot crispy batons with a soft core. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, 'crisps' are the brittle slices eaten at room temperature and 'chips' refer to the hot dish (as in 'fish and chips'). In Australia, New Zealand and some parts of South Africa, both forms of potato product are simply known as 'chips', as are the larger "home-style" potato chips. Sometimes the distinction is made between 'hot chips' (French fried potatoes) and 'packet chips'.

Non-potato based chips also exist. Kumara (sweet potato) chips are eaten in New Zealand and Japan; parsnip crisps are available in the United Kingdom. India is famous for a large number of localized 'chips shops', selling not only potato chips but also other varieties such as plantain chips, yam chips and even carrot chips. In many countries potato chips have been criticized because of their high fat percentage (approx. 35%) and their acrylamide content.


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 called into question) who continued to send his fried potatoes back, because he thought they were too thick and soggy. Crum decided to slice the potatoes so thin that they couldn't be eaten with a fork, nor fried normally in a pan, so he decided to stir-fry the potato slices. 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 York and 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". It takes approximately 4 pounds of potatoes to make a pound of potato chips.

An earlier reference is Alexis Soyer's recipe in "Shilling Cookery for People" (1845). Here raw potatoes, "almost shavings" are fried. Earlier still, Mary Randolph's book "The Virginia House-wife" (1824) has a part titled "To fry Sliced Potatoes" here raw potatoes are cut into slices or thin shavings and fried "till they are crisp."

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 waxed 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 waxed 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.


The global potato chips market generated total revenues of 16.4 billion dollars in 2005. This accounted for 35.5% of the total savory snacks market in that year (46.1 billion dollars).

Seasoned chips

Initially, chips went unseasoned until a twist of salt was placed inside the bag, to be added when required. This idea was originated by the Smiths Potato Crisps Company Ltd formed in 1920 . Frank Smith originally packaged them in greaseproof paper bags which were then sold around London, to give them some flavor, he would also include a twist of salt. The idea was abandoned when the salting and flavoring process developed by Tayto was applied to crisps during manufacture. Walkers revived the idea of 'salt in a bag', following their take over of Smiths (UK) in 1979, with their Salt 'n' Shake potato crisps.

The potato chip remained unseasoned until an innovation by Joe "Spud" Murphy (1923 2001), the owner of an Irish crisp company called Tayto, who developed a technology to add seasoning in the 1950s. Though he had a small company, consisting almost entirely of his immediate family who prepared the crisps, the owner had long proved himself an innovator. After some trial and error, he produced the world's first seasoned crisps, "Cheese and Onion" and Salt & vinegar

The innovation became an overnight sensation in the food industry, with the heads of some of the biggest potato chip companies in the United States heading to the small Tayto company to examine the product and to negotiate the rights to use the new technology. When eventually the Tayto company was sold, it made the owner and the small family group who had changed the face of potato chip manufacturing very wealthy. Companies worldwide sought to buy the rights to Tayto's technique.

The Tayto innovation changed the whole nature of the potato chip. Later chip manufacturers added natural and artificial seasonings to potato chips, with varying degrees of success. A product that had had a large appeal to a limited market on the basis of one seasoning now had a degree of market penetration through vast numbers of seasonings. Various other seasonings of chips are sold in different locales, including the original "Cheese and Onion", produced by Tayto, which remains by far Ireland's biggest manufacturer of crisps.

Perhaps the most extreme version of seasoned chips were the fruit flavoured chips that were (very) briefly sold in Canada in the late seventies (in orange, cherry and grape flavours). These were not a success, and they were rapidly discontinued., 2003-2005. All Rights Reserved.
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