The History of the Potato Chip


Ah, potatoes! This week here on Petticoats and Pistols you’ve been reading all sorts of fun facts about this wonderful vegetable! So let’s round out the week with some more fun facts!

Did you know that the potato chip was discovered on accident? Well, that’s what some say. Today it is America’s number one snack. There’s even a national Potato Chip Day held on March 14th!

A man named George Crum is the one that came up with this wonderful snack food we all love (some of us have a love/hate relationship with them) and take part in devouring 1.2 billion pounds annually. Yes, that’s right, annually. Little did George know he was going to create the greatest snack food known to man.

George, an African American, and Native American worked as a chef at Moon Lake Lodge, a swanky resort near Saratoga Springs back in the late 1800s. He’d been getting gripes from a visitor staying at the lodge about thick, soggy, fried potatoes. George, thinking he’d teach the man a lesson, sliced up a few spuds as thin as he could, fried them until they were crunchy, the doused them in salt. Wasn’t he surprised when the man loved them! And voila! Potatoe chips were born.

This turn of events made Crum very successful with his invention. He even opened his own restaurant called The Crumb House. And what did they serve each table prior to their main meal? You guessed it! A basket of potato chips! The snack was a hit with George’s upscale patrons. Unfortunately in those days, people of color were not allowed to take out patents on their inventions so poor George never really got credit when the chips were later mass-produced and sold in bags.

So here’s to George Crum, the man who gave us potato chips! Here’s a more modern recipe for making your own potato chips. These are made in the oven!

  • 2 medium Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes (peeled)
  • extra virgin olive oil (for brushing)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika


  • Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  • Slice potatoes into 1/8-inch thick pieces.
  • Put slices in one layer flat on baking sheets. Brush with olive oil, turn and brush the other side. Sprinkle with salt and paprika, turn and sprinkle the other side.
  • Bake for 10 minutes on one side then flip them over.
  • Bake for another 10 minutes or until potatoes are crispy.

What’s your favorite kind of potato chip? Have you ever tried to make your own?

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Kit Morgan is the author of over 100 books of historical and contemporary western romance! Her stories are fun, sweet stories full of love, laughter, and just a little bit of mayhem! Kit creates her stories in her little log cabin in the woods in the Pacific Northwest. An avid reader and knitter, when not writing, she can be found with either a book or a pair of knitting needles in her hands! Oh, and the occasional smidge of chocolate!

67 thoughts on “The History of the Potato Chip”

  1. Yum! Maybe I should make my own. Ne of my favorite potato chips is Ruffles. I think they have the most potato flavor. 🙂

    • I love all potato chips! Poor George! Well at least he was able to have a successful business in that day and time but still…

      I love to put lemon and hot pepper sauce (Louisiana sauce, Red Hot, Salsa Valentine etc.) on a plain potato chip! It’s so addictive! I learned this in El Paso.

      Thanks for the great blog and history of potato chips. I’m a normal American I guess because chips are my favorite snack!

  2. I’m with Jerri, I like the spicy potato chip. I really love the Flaming hot flavor!!
    I will douse potato chips with Louisiana Hot Sauce. Yum yum!!
    I’ll have to say my husband tries his best to contribute to the 1.2 billion annually. That man loves his potato chips.
    Thanks for the awesome history lesson of the potato chip!

  3. It’s hard, even with a mandoline, to get them thin enough. And most of us don’t have something to get the oil hot enough as a commercial fryer. So my attempts have failed.

    I have been lucky enough to take tours in chip factories and have chips straight from the fryer. The first time was the small factory where my grandma worked. It was the 70s, and we were in the actual factory. I don’t think OSHA would allow a factory tour like that now. So good when they’re hot out of the fryer.

    The second was a larger brand, and their tours are through a windowed walkway, and an employee brings them out on a tray.

  4. love potato chips, sour ream and onion is my favorite, and bbq chips,cheddar and sour cream, yumm. i think ruffels are the best, with the ridges to dip . no i never tried to make my own , my daughter mentioned to me a few months ago she made some in the microwave, and so much better than store bought.

  5. I can remember my mom always using a potato grater and slicing thin potatoes. She would fry in an iron skillet filled half full with lard.. the potatoes were always home made at our house , even French Fries. I actually don’t ever remember having potato chips from a bag till in my later school years. Mom was always creating different was to make dinner include some type of potatoes. Her Cheese Potatoes were my favorite!!!

  6. I have made potato chips … they were okay. I love to munch on Cape Cod potato chips you can buy at Costco. They are crunchy and I believe 19 chips equal 4 points in Weight Watchers. I enjoy bistro chips if any kind. Thank you Kit for the history of potato chips. Fun blog!

  7. I would love to try to make some. Maybe in the air frier. My favorite are Ruffles. I think they should be their own food group.

  8. I am loving these facts you have shared. I love most chips, but days some I prefer the salty ones more. Glad he came up with them.

  9. I LOVE homemade potato chips. My mother taught me how to make them a long time ago. I think I might make up a batch of them this weekend as a treat. My favorite non-homemade kind are BBQ Pringles.

    • I’m with Denise, Janine. It’s super hard to get the potatoes thin enough. How do you do it?

      My grandmother made homemade chips, and they were just too thick and potato-ey. We were expecting them to taste like those right out of the bag. We wouldn’t eat them.

    • My grandparents never made them. They were French on my mother’s side, Polish on my father’s. My mom didn’t make them either. Sigh. But I’ve made them and like you only once. Though I do want to try the oven recipe.

  10. Love about any kind of potato chip but have never tried to make them. Would love to try your recipe sometime though.

  11. I like all kinds of potato chips! I did try to make potato chips, but at least with the recipe I had it didn’t quite work out.

    • I think I’m going to try to find more oven recipes for them. The one I posted looked pretty easy enough for all of us to try. There were some complicated ones out there too. Yikes! But I think the one posted is going to be good!

  12. I love Lays Vinegar and Salt potato chips. I have cooked my own potato chips before. Thanks for the history lesson

  13. How much fun, Kit! When we started this special week, I never thought you all would come up with such interesting facts and recipes on potatoes. Goes to show how creative our Fillies are. I think the history of the potato chip is fun to know and a story we can tell over lunch when we’re eating a sandwich with potato chips on the plate. Thanks for a great, fun blog. Hugs, Phyliss

    • I stumbled across this while trying to find something fun facts about potatoes. The fact that George did it to get back at a patron for insulting his cooking cracks me up!

  14. I’ve never fixed my own potato chips. However, my favorites are plain and bbq!! I buy the Lays brand when Publix has them as a BOGO, otherwise I buy the store brand!! I’m more loyal to the store brand with a lot of things I buy there, vs the name brands! Lol!!

  15. Ruffles are my favorite and sour cream and onion. I have never cooked home made chips since it is very fussy and involved but would be really tasty. Home made chips would be delectable and I probably would only want the authentic type and be spoiled forever.

  16. My favorite kind of potato chips are ruffles. I have never tried to make potato chips. I enjoyed reading all about potatoes it is very interesting , and I really enjoyed reading this post about how the potato chips came about. Thank you for posting these articles, they have been very interesting.

  17. Kit, I have never met a potato chip I didn’t like! Even those weird ones. I like some better than others, and some flavors go better with some foods than others, but I just love that crunchy goodness. And to think, when I was growing up, there wasn’t a variety of “KINDS” but of brands only. Then came the Ruffles (thick) or Lays (thin)–now, just look at all those choices out there! Great post!

  18. That brought a smile to my face! That’s so fascinating about chips bring an accident lol. I love most all chips, But myfavorite flavor of chip salt and vinegar! But not by everyone, my fave is lays kettle salt and vinegar.

  19. Poor George. But many thanks to his creativity. I like the salt & vinegar and for some reason when having a sandwich I love Wide lightly salted in my sandwich or cheeseburger. ?

  20. Growing up 11 miles from Saratoga Springs in Saratoga County we were always told it was Newmans Lake House where the chef (whose name and race we weren’t told) finally sliced the potatoes with a razor blade which made the customer happy. For years my dad had a “Saratoga Chips” can in his shop that held asorted nuts and bolts.

    I’m a fan of plain or wavy chips that I can dip in whatever sauce or dip I choose. My husband loves BBQ flavored chips.

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