Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by charlie from Clarksville , OH. charlie Wonders, “Who was the first person to make potato chips and how did they make them?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, charlie !

Do you have a favorite snack? For many kids, nothing makes a picnic complete like a big handful of potato chips. Close your eyes and try to imagine it. We bet you can almost taste the crunchy, salty goodness right now!

Potatoes are the second most-eaten food on the planet (after rice). Some like mashed potatoes, while others would rather have French fries. For many people, though, nothing beats crunchy potato chips. But just how did these snacks come into existence?

Would you believe it was an accident? It’s true! Potato chips were accidentally made in 1853.

In the summer of 1853, George Crum was a chef. He worked at the Moon Lake Lodge in Saratoga Springs, New York. One of his specialties was thick-cut French fries that were eaten with a fork.

One day, a customer complained that Crum’s French fries were too thick. Crum made a thinner batch. The customer still thought they were too thick. Frustrated, Crum made another batch so thin that they couldn’t be eaten with a fork.

Crum didn’t mean to please the customer with these paper-thin potato crisps. But the customer loved them! Others began to ask for them. That’s when the potato chip was born. Crum added them to the Moon Lake Lodge menu as a new specialty called “Saratoga Chips.”

Potato chips remained a regional specialty item available only in restaurants for many years. Then, towards the end of the nineteenth century, people started selling in grocery stores.

The first of these people may have been William Tappendon of Cleveland, Ohio. In 1895, he started making potato chips in his kitchen. Then, he delivered them to local stores. He eventually turned an old barn on his property into one of the first potato chip factories.

The potatoes had to be peeled and sliced by hand. That meant making potato chips was a lot of work. That all changed in the 1920s with the invention of the mechanical potato peeler. With this technology, potato chips grew from a local favorite into a nationwide sensation.

Today, potato chips are one of the most popular snack foods in the world. Many claim potato chips are America’s favorite snack food. They may be right! Retail sales of potato chips in the United States total over $6 billion each year. Now that’s a lot of chips!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1

Wonder What's Next?

Tomorrow’s fishy Wonder of the Day may make you say, “Cheese!”