Look in any grocery store, and you’re likely to find an entire aisle stocked with potato chips. In today’s world, it feels impossible to consider that there was a time before potato chips, but it’s true: there was! Whether you’re a casual potato chip consumer or a full-blown aficionado, you’ve probably wondered who created this salty snack. We’re here to answer that question for you.
The story of the potato chip, like many other historical tales, is an uncertain one. For one, there’s a lot of debate around exactly who created this food, and moreover, how it was created. While it’s impossible to know exactly what happened, we’re able to use the facts that we have to make an educated guess.
Who Invented Potato Chips?
Like many other things in history like airplanes, telephones, and radios, the individual who should be credited with creating the potato chip is debatable. If you investigate the creation of the potato chip, you’re probably going to hear two names pop up most frequently. Those names are George Crum and William Kitchiner.
George Crum certainly seems like the more likely candidate to have birthed the idea that became the potato chip. For one, he was an illustrious chef. A New York Herald writer in 1889 even referred to Crum as the best chef in the country. While his work was celebrated across the United States, his involvement with creating the potato chip was largely uncelebrated during his lifetime.
Another possible candidate was a British doctor with the name William Kitchiner. Kitchener published a cookbook called The Cook’s Oracle, which contained a recipe that arguably sounded pretty similar to today’s potato chip recipe.
Of course, these men are not the only two individuals who claimed to be involved with the creation of the potato chip. A woman named Catherine Adkins Wicks also was supposedly involved. When she died at 103 years old, her obituary claimed that she was the person who created the potato chip.
If that wasn’t enough, another obituary claimed a man named Hiram S. Thomas was the actual creator of the salty snack that was referred to as the “Saratoga chip.” (You’ll learn more about why they were referred to as that later!)
While we can guess at who actually created the potato chip, it’s impossible to prove which of these individuals actually made the first of what would become known as the potato chip. In fact, it’s possible that any or all of these people were working towards the creation of the potato chip, perhaps even simultaneously.
When Were Potato Chips Created?
Obviously, there’s a lot of debate surrounding who made the first potato chip, and as you might have guessed, there’s uncertainty regarding when exactly this occurred, too.
If the George Crum story accounts for the creation of the first potato chip, the snack came about during the summer of 1853. Since this story is contested, it’s also possible the chip was created before this date.
Some food historians believe that potato chips actually date all the way back to 1817. This was when Kitchiner released his cookbook with a recipe in it that sounded suspiciously similar to how potato chips are made. It is worthy to note, however, that just because Kitchiner may have been one of the first people to record the recipe for making potato chips, it doesn’t necessarily mean he was the first person to make them.
Potato chips came about sometime during the 1800s, but the exact date and creator are unlikely to be known for sure.
Where Were Potato Chips Created?
While investigating the creation of the potato chip, you might see the name of one city in upstate New York repeatedly showing up in your search—Saratoga, New York. Saratoga is a city north of both Albany and Schenectady. Today, it’s renowned for its horse races at the famed Saratoga Race Course, but in the past, the city gained acclaim for its potential involvement in the creation of the potato chip.
This city’s involvement in the folklore surrounding the creation of the potato chip is exactly why the snack was once referred to as Saratoga chips. Sometimes, potato chips still are called this.
How Were Potato Chips Created?
By now, you probably have questions surrounding how potato chips were invented. And as you might have guessed, the answer is consistent with all the other questions we’ve answered. The truth is, history isn’t exactly sure how potato chips were created.
In the famed George Crum story, legend has it that a wealthy patron entered Moon’s Lake House, a restaurant in Saratoga, during the summer of 1853. The restaurant was located on the shores of Saratoga Lake. George Crum and his sister Catherine Wicks both worked at this restaurant. That’s right—Crum and Wicks, both possibly the creator of the potato chip, were related.
Legend has it that the patron ordered french fries from the menu at Moon’s Lake House. When the patron received their fries, they complained that they were too thick and asked for them to be sliced thinner. Crum supposedly cut the fries extremely thin, mainly to spite the patron for their criticisms of his cooking. However, this backfired, and the patron actually was enthusiastic about the extremely thin-sliced “fries”—also known as potato chips. From then on, other diners at the restaurant began to request the chips.
The wealthy patron was long considered to be steamship owner Cornelius Vanderbilt, but history proved this tale wrong. Vanderbilt, though he did frequently visit Saratoga, was actually touring Europe during the summer of 1853 when potato chips were created. Therefore, it’s impossible that, if this is truly how potato chips were invented, the patron was Vanderbilt.
Our Take on Potato Chips
Since they were created sometime in the 1800s, potato chips went on to become a snacking staple. That said, they aren’t particularly known for being nutritious or supportive of a healthy diet.
If you’re looking for a delicious alternative to a classic potato chip (and who isn’t?), the search is over. Uprising Food has the answer. We call them our Freedom Chips.
In our Starter Bundle Sampler, we’ve included two delicious varieties of chips: our Sea Salt Chips and our Savory Rye Chips. At Uprising Food, we believe in a better food pyramid, and for us, that means a few things. Our priority is creating foods that are fueled by so-called “super fats,” including olive oil and MCT oil. MCT Oil is made of molecules that are smaller than most fat molecules. This allows it to be absorbed into the bloodstream more rapidly, turning it into usable energy for your body. In addition to this, olive oil is known to support heart health.
Uprising Food’s take on the classic chip also includes zero added sugar. You heard that right—we don’t add even one gram of extra, unnecessary sugar. If you’re lactose intolerant or follow a dairy-free diet, you’re in luck: Uprising Food’s Freedom chips are dairy-free, too.
The benefits don’t end there, however. Uprising Food is keto-friendly, paleo-approved, and even made without gluten (for more on that, check out our FAQ page). It’s our mission to ensure that you have food options that are both nutritious and tasty. If you’re a potato chip aficionado but are following a keto, paleo, or gluten-free diet, we have the perfect solution for you.
Why Our Take on Chips Is Important
Americans alone consume approximately 1.5 billion pounds of potato chips—yearly. And while potato chips are obviously tasty, they aren’t particularly supportive of a healthy diet. Your body works hard for you and shows up for you every day. Nourishing it with food that has dietary value is essential to ensure that your body keeps working how it’s intended.
Our take on the classic chip is particularly valuable if you want to enjoy what you’re eating but also want to be health-conscious. With Uprising Food’s Freedom Chips, there’s no need to compromise taste for nutrients. Our chips are packed with clean super foods—and there’s never any fillers. Why? Because they aren’t necessary. We cut out the excess, and the result is delicious. But don’t just take our word for it; try it yourself.
While we can guess at who, when, where, and how potato chips were invented, it’s ultimately impossible to prove exactly what occurred to lead us to this tasty snack. But we sure are grateful they were created, because without the invention of the potato chip, we wouldn’t have our tasty, nutritious Freedom Chips today.