It"s one of the enduring cross-cultural cooking conundrums: Why space packaged potato snacks dubbed chips in the US and crisps in the UK? The answer is equal components history, legend, and marketing savvy. And the spudscape is obtaining more facility as social boundaries dissolve and also the snack-food sector grows more an innovative and prolific.

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First, some classic definitions:

Thin, brittle, braided slices that fried potato the are sold in sealed packages are dubbed chips in north America, Australia, Singapore, Jamaica, and also South Africa. In the UK and Ireland they"re dubbed crisps. They"re normally thinner 보다 their American counterparts, and soaked in water prior to frying come remove much of the potato starch. Meanwhile, new Zealanders go their own way, calling French fries (UK/Irish "chips") hot chips and potato chips (UK/Irish "crisps") cold chips. Chip comes from an Old English word, cipp ("a small piece the wood"). Crisp originates from a Latin native that means "curly." Both native emerged around the very same time, top top the cusp that the 15th century. In the US, corn chips room made from cornmeal and also are thicker and squarer than potato chips, often with a curly "scooping" end. Fritos brand corn chips — presented by a Texas company in 1932 — room representative. In the UK, a corn chip is likely to it is in what north Americans contact a tortilla chip: a crunchy, triangular piece of corn tortilla. Tortilla chips source in Mexico and also were mass-produced in Los Angeles in the 1940s. There space snack-type crisps in north America, yet they"re specialty items make from anything yet potatoes — for example, SnapeaCrisps (baked, seasoned eye peas), Pretzel Crisps (flat pretzel crackers), Boulder Canyon Garden vegetable Crisps ("a perfect blend of twelve vegetables" with "a dash of bold seasoning").

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American "crisps," from a California-based company.

Just to make points really confusing, there"s a fully different kind of crisp in America: the baked kind, made through sliced fruit and also an oats-flour-and-butter topping. The British call it a crumble. And also yes, us bake crumbles in America, too, and they"re practically (but not quite) the exact same as crisps.

For now, though, let"s stick through packaged snacks. Which product — and also name — come first, and also where did the originate? Sorry, UK, the new World wins both contests.

Although Charles Dickens stated "husky chips of potato" in A story of two Cities (1859), he to be referring to what Americans speak to French fries. Thin, crunchy chips had come follow me a couple of years earlier, and they to be an American invention. In 1853, the legend goes, a diner at Moon"s Lake house in Saratoga Springs, new York, sent out his fried potatoes earlier to the cook, complaining the they were too thick. The cook, George Crum — explained as "generally ornery" in the official story — "sliced a new batch the potatoes paper thin, fried castle in boil oil come a crisp, and then salted them." The an outcome was a hit; the potato — originally called "crunch potato slices" — were shortly renamed Saratoga Chips, and also by 1879, follow to the online Etymology Dictionary, "potato chip" had entered the lexicon. (An alternative version the the story, reproduced in Barry Popik"s The big Apple website, credits Crum"s sister v the invention.) The chips were developed in Saratoga Springs until the early on 1920s; in 2009, a new factory, the Saratoga Specialty Company, started making the chips again, apparently from the original recipe.

Hundreds of mile from Saratoga Springs, potato chips gained their first big marketing press in 1895, when a Cleveland, Ohio, male named wilhelm Tappenden started making the snacks on his kitchen stove and delivering them come grocers in his horse-drawn wagon. In 1908, the Leominster Potato Chip manufacturing facility (later called Tri-Sum Potato Chips) opened up in Massachusetts; Mike-Sell"s Potato Chip company opened in 1910 in Dayton, Ohio. Chips do in factories prefer these to be shipped in bulk and sold out of barrels in grocery store stores. Inevitably, the chips in ~ the bottom of the barrels ended up being stale and also crumbled. That adjusted in 1926, when another American entrepreneur, 45-year-old nurse-turned-lawyer Laura Scudder, opened a potato-chip factory in southern California. She called the firm after herself and also introduced waxed-paper bags together packaging. This creation kept the chips fresher — Mrs. Scudder likewise printed dates on the packages — and enabled mass marketing.

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It took almost half a century because that the next significant breakthrough in chip technology. Pringles were developed by Procter & gamble chemists that labored in the 1950s and also 1960s to create uniformly saddle-shaped chips (hyperbolic paraboloids, if you desire to get technical) that stacked nicely in one air-tight cylindrical can. Pringles were an initial sold in the us in 1968 together "Pringles Newfangled Potato Chips," yet in 1975 the united state Food and also Drug administration ruled that due to the fact that Pringles consisted of only 42 percent potato, lock couldn"t be referred to as "potato chip." as a result, Pringles became the very first major us potato-snack brand to it is in marketed together "crisps." That caused a legal conflict in the UK, wherein Pringles were deemed not to be crisps, either. For a while they were re-relabeled "snacks," but today they"re offered without any descriptive term in ~ all.

(The beginning of the Pringles surname is a mystery, perhaps intentionally. One story has it that Procter & gambling picked the name from a Cincinnati phone call book.)

Meanwhile, across the pond, British-style crisps — which were never called chips — were just catching on. According to H2G2, the "user-generated overview to life" started by novelist Douglas Adams, the first British crisps were manufactured in 1913 through a guy named Carter who had discovered them in France. Yet it wasn"t till 1920, through the founding of the Smiths Potato Crisps Company, Ltd., in London, that many Britons were able to buy crisps, in greaseproof file bags sold from candid Smith"s pony cart. However potato crisp wasn"t documented in publish until 1929, follow to the OED. The term got a dubious proof from the American-born nature Briton T.S. Eliot, whose 1950 pat The Cocktail Party consisted of this heat of dialogue: "Potato crisps? No, ns can"t endure them."

The british have comprised for their late begin in the crisps business by outdoing the american on the flavor front. Whereas American potato chips are usually accessible in only 4 or five flavors — plain, barbeque, sour cream and also onion, and salt and also vinegar space the most famous — british crisps room impressively eclectic. As soon as linguist Lynne Murphy blogged around the chips/crisps distinction in 2009, she provided the popularity in the UK the meat flavors, including steak and also onion, chicken and also thyme, prawn cocktail, and even — the winner that a dispute sponsored by Walkers Crisps — Cajun Squirrel. Walkers also makes a special holiday flavor: roast turkey and stuffing. The package reads "Merry Crispmas!"

I haven"t seen anything the wacky on united state grocery shelves — yet. But who knows? Ben Yagoda, who tracks Britishisms that have infiltrated American English, freshly made a prediction, based on his own informal research, the crisps "are poised to make their note in these parts." How many chips would you place on that bet?