The Invention Of Potato Chips In 1853 By A Half-Black, Half-Native Man Named George Crum

By | August 22, 2020

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Potato chips. (Urbano Delvalle/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images)

If there's anything people love more than sweet, sweet fried potatoes, it's getting one up on the hoity-toity. The legend of the creation of potato chips marries these two beloved concepts, as it was said that the popular snack food was invented as a sarcastic gesture toward a finicky restaurant patron. While there is evidence that potato chips were enjoyed prior to this event, the legend has prevailed.

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George Crum, inventor of the potato chip, and his sister-in-law, "Aunt Kate" Weeks, at Moon's Lake House in Saratoga Springs, NY. (Georgs S. Bolster Collection/Wikimedia Commons)

Who Was George Crum?

George Crum, who also used the name George Speck, was born in 1824 in Saratoga County, New York. He worked as a hunter and outdoor guide before taking a job as a cook at the Moon's Lake House, a lakeside resort in his hometown, where he earned a reputation for his culinary skills, particularly the dishes he made with venison, duck, and other wild game. The Moon's Lake House was a popular establishment in the Adirondacks, and many rich and powerful people, such as Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, dined there alongside common laborers. Vanderbilt has actually been credited with giving Crum his new last name, as he could never seem to remember it. When he took a stab in the dark and addressed him as "Crum," the name stuck. Crum took the mistake in stride, quipping "A crumb is bigger than a speck!"