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COLUMN: Pass the potato chips…please

The earliest recipe for potato chips was published in 1817
Mmmmmm…Photo MCG

Today, we are talking about potato chips.

They are wonderful and necessary to happiness, and where would we be as a society if it weren’t for potato chips?

They are fantastic in bed.

What else comes in barbecue, salt and vinegar, dill pickle, sour cream and onion, and even…purchased these over Christmas for a British friend…marmite.

The history of the potato chip is open to debate.

The most popular and accepted version is the potato chip was invented in Saratoga Springs, New York.

As the story goes, a chef, George Crum (Crum…how perfect is that?) made the first potato chips in 1853 as retaliation towards American business magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Lore has it that Vanderbilt was dining in Crum’s restaurant and he returned his meal to the kitchen, because the potatoes were too thick.

Crum was angry, and decided to slice the replacement potatoes as thinly as he could, and fry them in oil.

Vanderbilt thought they would be fantastic in bed and voila. The potato chip.

Later, scholars disputed this origin story, although they seem united in the belief that Crum popularized the snack.

Yeah, there are potato chip scholars. Presumably everybody needs to be something.

The earliest recipe for potato chips was published in 1817. But let’s be realistic.

Potatoes and hot oil?

That’s like ice cream and chocolate syrup, bread and butter or ham and eggs. No brainers. Why would someone even write it down?

I’ve had freshly-fried hot potato chips once, at Darien Lake Six Flags, also in New York state.

They were served in a cone, and I recall licking the waxed paper and sucking on my fingers.

Attempts to recreate this experience in the home kitchen were unsuccessful.

Entrepreneurs made efforts to sell packages of potato chips to a wider market, in the early parts of the of the 20th century.

But it wasn’t until 1961 that Lays became the first national potato chip brand. Ben Lahr, the cowardly lion from Wizard of Oz, was the spokesperson and delivered the iconic line…”Betcha can’t eat just one.”

If you grew up watching the Bugs and Tweety show, you will remember the commercials.

One of the coolest things about potato chips, and Lays, is the company now offers an array of international flavours that can be found in almost any grocery store – even ones in the smallest B.C. towns.

Mango Chutney, Hot and Spicy Braised Duck Tongue, Crema y Especias…and so on.

That is very sweet…um, or salty.

Andrea DeMeer

About the Author: Andrea DeMeer

Andrea is the publisher of the Similkameen Spotlight.
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