Potato chip

Potato chip

Potato chip
Potato chips
Course Snack, side dish
Place of origin Saratoga Springs, New York, United States
Serving temperature Room temperature

A potato chip (American English) or crisp (British English) is a thin slice of potato that has been deep fried or baked until crunchy. Potato chips are commonly served as an appetizer, side dish, or snack. The basic chips are cooked and salted; additional varieties are manufactured using various flavorings and ingredients including seasonings, herbs, spices, cheeses, and artificial additives.

"Crisps", however, may also refer to many different types of savory snack products sold in the United Kingdom and Ireland, some made from potato, but some made from corn, tapioca or other cereals, just as there are other varieties of chips in the United States.

Potato chips are a predominant part of the snack food market in Western countries. The global potato chip market generated total revenues of US$16.49 billion in 2005. This accounted for 35.5% of the total savory snacks market in that year ($46.1 billion).[1]


  • History 1
    • Flavored chips 1.1
  • Nomenclature 2
  • Health concerns 3
  • Regional varieties 4
  • Similar foods 5
  • Production 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10


Traditional Saratoga chips

According to a traditional story, the original potato chip recipe was created in Native American cook[2] at Moon's Lake House, who was trying to appease an unhappy customer on 24 August 1853.[3] The customer kept sending his fried potatoes back, complaining that they were too thick.[4] Frustrated, he sliced the potatoes razor thin, fried them until crisp and seasoned them with extra salt. To Crum's surprise, the customer loved them.[5] They soon became called "Saratoga Chips",[6] a name that persisted into at least the mid-20th century. A version of this story popularized in a 1973 national advertising campaign by St. Regis Paper Company, which manufactured packaging for chips, said that Crum's customer was Cornelius Vanderbilt.[2] Crum was renowned as a chef and by 1860 owned his own lakeside restaurant, Crum's House.[2]

Alternative explanations of the provenance of potato chips date them to recipes in Shilling Cookery for the People by Alexis Soyer (1845) or Mary Randolph's The Virginia House-Wife (1824)[7] as well as two other contemporary cookbooks. William Kitchiner's 1822 cookbook The Cook's Oracle was a bestseller in England and the USA, and includes a recipe for "Potatoes fried in Slices or Shavings", which instructs readers to "peel large potatoes, slice them about a quarter of an inch thick, or cut them in shavings round and round, as you would peel a lemon; dry them well in a clean cloth, and fry them in lard or dripping".[8][9]

In the 20th century, potato chips spread beyond chef-cooked restaurant fare and began to be mass-produced for home consumption. The Dayton, Ohio-based Mike-sell's Potato Chip Company, founded in 1910, identifies as the "oldest potato chip company in the United States".[10][11] New England-based Tri-Sum Potato Chips, originally founded in 1908 as the Leominster Potato Chip Company, in Leominster, Massachusetts claim to be America's first potato chip manufacturer.[12] Chips sold in markets were usually sold in tins or scooped out of storefront glass bins and delivered by horse and wagon. The early potato chip bag was wax paper with the ends ironed or stapled together. At first, potato chips were packaged in barrels or tins, which left chips at the bottom stale and crumbled.

Laura Scudder,[13][14] an entrepreneur in Monterey Park, California started having her workers take home sheets of wax paper to iron into the form of bags, which were filled with chips at her factory the next day. This pioneering method reduced crumbling and kept the chips fresh and crisp longer. This innovation, along with the invention of cellophane, allowed potato chips to become a mass market product. Today, chips are packaged in plastic bags, with nitrogen gas blown in prior to sealing to lengthen shelf life, and provide protection against crushing.[15][16]

During the inter-war years, crisps were yet to gain a significant commercial foothold in Britain but nevertheless, potato-based snacks occupied a special place in the cultural consciousness of the British people. The preserve of middle-class pubs in the Home Counties, Smiths crisps gained a wider currency after the making of a short promotional film entitled “Penny a Packet” which starred Alastair Sim as a publican who transforms his stale country pub into a bustling night venue after a chance meeting with a crisp salesman.

Crisps finally became a major aspect of mainstream British culture after World War Two, when servicemen returning from East Asia had encountered Australian snacks including cheese and onion flavoured crisps during encounters with their ANZAC counterparts. A young private from Leicestershire became so addicted to the crisps during his tour of Malaya that he brought three crates back with him with the intention of starting a business. Unfortunately, the crisps perished on the long ship ride home but his subsequent career as an importer helped British traders such as Smiths and Walkers.

Flavored chips

An advertisement for Smith's Potato Crisps

In an idea originated by the Smiths Potato Crisps Company Ltd, formed in 1920,[17] Frank Smith packaged a twist of salt with his chips in greaseproof paper bags, which were sold around London.

The potato chip remained otherwise unseasoned until an innovation by Joe "Spud" Murphy, the owner of an Irish chip company called Tayto, who in the 1950s developed a technology to add seasoning during manufacture. After some trial and error, Murphy and his employee, Seamus Burke, produced the world's first seasoned chips: Cheese & Onion, Barbecue, and Salt & Vinegar.[18] This innovation was notable in the food industry. Companies worldwide sought to buy the rights to Tayto's technique.[19]


A Bangladeshi version of potato chips, marketed as potato crackers.

There is little consistency in the English-speaking world for names of fried potato slices, thick or thin. American and Canadian English use "chips" for the above-mentioned dish — this term is also used (but not universally) in other parts of the world, due to the influence of American culture — and sometimes "crisps" for the same made from batter.

In the United Kingdom and Ireland, crisps are potato chips which are eaten cold, whilst chips are similar to french fries (as in "fish and chips") and are served hot. In Australia, some parts of South Africa, New Zealand, India, the general West Indies especially in Barbados, both forms of potato product are simply known as "chips", as are the larger "home-style" potato crisps. In the north of New Zealand, they are known as "chippies" but are marketed as "chips" throughout the country. In Australia and New Zealand, sometimes the distinction is made between "hot chips" (fried potatoes) and "potato chips". In Bangladesh, they are generally known as "chip" or "chips", and much less frequently as "crisps" (pronounced "kirisp") and locally, Álu Bhaja (for their similarity to the native potato bhajji).

In countries of the former SFR Yugoslavia, fried thin potato slices are known as "chips" (locally pronounced very similar to the actual English pronunciation), with a clear distinction from french fries. In Brazil, "home-style" potato chips are known as batatas portuguesas ("Portuguese potatoes") if their sides are relatively smooth and batatas prussianas ("Prussian potatoes") if their sides show a wafer biscuit-like pattern, whilst American-like industrial uniform potato chips made from a fried potato purée-based dough are known as batata chips ("chips potato", alike "shredded potato"), or just chips.

Health concerns

Potato chips were originally junk foods, including potato chips.[20]

A recent long-term study determined that potato chip consumption was the greatest contributor to weight gain, having a stronger effect on weight gain than consumption of potatoes and soft drinks.[21] The starch in potato chips is known to cause tooth decay.[22]

Some potato chip companies have responded to the criticism by investing in research and development to modify existing recipes and create health-conscious products. Kettle Foods was founded in 1978 and currently sells only trans fat–free products, including potato chips. PepsiCo research shows that approximately 80% of salt on chips is not sensed by the tongue before being swallowed. Frito-Lay spent $414 million in 2009 on product development, including development of salt crystals that would reduce the salt content of Lay's potato chips without adversely affecting flavor.[20]

A big concern about the nutrition of potato chips is that because they are usually made with salt, they contain substantial levels of sodium. This had been linked to health issues such as high blood pressure, and potato chips' taste appeal caused people to overeat and become obese. But, researchers at Queen Mary, University of London in 2004 noted that a small "bag of ready-salted crisps" contains less salt than a serving of "Special K, All-Bran, Golden Grahams, Cheerios, Shreddies and every brand of cornflakes on sale in the UK."[23]

Regional varieties

Salt and vinegar chips are common in Canada
  • In Canada, seasonings include dill pickle, ketchup, barbecue, all dressed, salt and vinegar, and sour cream and onion. Lay's previously introduced wasabi chips in Toronto and Vancouver, but no longer offers them.[24] Loblaw, Canada's largest food retailer, offers several unusual flavors under its Presidents Choice brand, including: Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Greek Feta and Olive, Ballpark Hot Dog, and Barbeque Baby Back Ribs, among others.
  • In Hong Kong, the two prominent potato chips are the spicy "Ethnican" variety by Calbee,[25] and barbecue by Jack'n Jill. Lay's are also popular in Hong Kong.
  • In Ireland, the common varieties of crisps are similar to those sold in the UK. However in Ireland, the word Tayto is synonymous with crisps after the Tayto brand and can be used to describe all varieties of crisp, including those not produced by Tayto. Owing to the dominance of Tayto in the Irish market, the word has become a genericized trademark. Walkers crisps were launched there several years ago, but have failed to dominate the market. Hunky Dorys and King crisps are other popular Irish brands.
  • In Germany, only two flavors were traditionally available, red paprika ("Paprika", sometimes also called "ungarisch") and ready salted ("gesalzen"). These are still by far the most common and popular types, but in recent years some vendors started to offer a number of other flavors like sour cream & onion, cheese, oriental or more exotic seasonings like "Chakalaka", "Currywurst", "Pommes" (french fries), "Rot-weiss" (red & white aka french fries with tomato ketchup and mayonnaise). Potato chips made from ground potatoes are called "Stapelchips" rather than "Kartoffelchips" for legal reasons.
A bowl of pizza-flavored chips in Japan
  • In Japan, flavors include nori & salt, consommé, wasabi, soy sauce & butter, garlic, ume, barbecue, pizza, mayonnaise, and black pepper. Chili, scallop with butter, teriyaki, takoyaki and yakitori flavored chips are also available. Major manufacturers are Calbee,[26] Koikeya[27] and Yamayoshi.
  • The market in the United Kingdom is dominated by Walkers (a regional brand of Lay's) which is known for its wide variety of crisps. The three main flavors are ready salted, cheese & onion, and salt & vinegar; however, other examples are prawn cocktail, Worcester Sauce, roast chicken, steak & onion, smoky bacon, lamb & mint, ham & mustard, barbecue, BBQ rib, tomato ketchup, sausage & ketchup, pickled onion, Branston Pickle, and Marmite. More exotic flavors are Thai sweet chili, roast pork & creamy mustard sauce, lime and Thai spices, chicken with Italian herbs, sea salt and cracked black pepper, turkey & bacon, caramelized onion & sweet balsamic vinegar, stilton & cranberry, mango chili, and special flavors such as American Cheeseburger and English Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pud.[28] Kettle Foods Ltd's range of thick-cut crunchy crisps include gourmet flavors: Mexican Limes with a hint of Chilli, Salsa with Mesquite, Buffalo Mozzarella Tomato and Basil, Mature Cheddar with Adnams Broadside Beer, Soulmate Cheeses and Onion. In the early 1980s, Hedgehog brand flavored crisps were widely on sale and received much publicity. McCoys Crisps are also popular in the UK. In the north of England, Seabrook Potato Crisps are popular, but they are much less common in the south.
  • In the United States, popular potato chips flavors include original (effectively just potatoes, oil and salt), sour cream and onion, barbecue, ranch dressing, salt and vinegar, and cheddar. Stores in regions with a significant Hispanic population often sell lime flavored chips using the Mexican name, limón.[29] In the Gulf South, Zapp's Potato Chips of Gramercy, Louisiana manufactures kettle-fried chips with regional flavors such as Crawtator, Cajun Dill,Voodoo, and Creole Onion.[30]

Similar foods

Pringles potato chips are uniform in size and shape, which allows them to be stacked.

Another type of potato chip, notably the Pringles and Lay's Stax brands, is made by extruding or pressing a dough made from ground potatoes into the desired shape before frying. This makes chips that are uniform in size and shape, which allows them to be stacked and packaged in rigid tubes. In America, the official term for Pringles is "potato crisps", but they are rarely referred to as such. Conversely Pringles may be termed "potato chips" in Britain, to distinguish them from traditional "crisps". Munchos, another brand that uses the term "potato crisps", has deep air pockets in its chips that give it a curved shape, though the chips themselves resemble regular bagged chips.

An additional variant of potato chips exists in the form of "potato sticks", also called "shoestring potatoes". These are made as extremely thin (2–3 mm) versions of the popular French fry, but are fried in the manner of regular salted potato chips. A hickory-smoke flavor version is popular in Canada, going by the vending machine name "Hickory Sticks". Potato sticks are typically packaged in rigid containers, although some manufacturers use flexible pouches, similar to potato chip bags. Potato sticks were originally packed in hermetically sealed steel cans. In the 1960s, manufacturers switched to the less expensive composite canister (similar to the Pringle's container). Reckitt Benckiser was a market leader in this category under the Durkee Potato Stix and French's Potato Sticks names, but exited the business in 2008.

A larger variant (approximately 1 cm thick) made with dehydrated potatoes is marketed as Andy Capp's Pub Fries, using the theme of a long-running British comic strip, which are baked and come in a variety of flavors. Walkers make a similar product (using the Smiths brand) called "Chipsticks" which come in Ready Salted and Salt and Vinegar flavours.

Some companies have also marketed baked potato chips as an alternative with lower fat content. Additionally, some varieties of fat-free chips have been made using artificial, and indigestible, fat substitutes. These became well known in the media when an ingredient many contained, Olestra, was linked in some individuals to abdominal discomfort and loose stools.[31]

The success of crisp fried potato chips led to the popularization of fried corn chips.

The success of crisp fried potato chips also gave birth to fried corn chips, with such brands as Fritos, CC's and Doritos dominating the market. "Swamp chips" are similarly made from a variety of root vegetables, such as parsnips, rutabagas and carrots. Japanese-style variants include extruded chips, like products made from rice or cassava. In South Indian snack cuisine, there is an item called HappLa in Kannada/vadam in Tamil, which is a chip made of an extruded rice/sago or multigrain base that has been around for many centuries.

There are many other products which might be called "crisps" in Britain, but would not be classed as "potato chips" because they aren't made with potato and/or aren't chipped (for example, Wotsits, Quavers, Skips, Hula Hoops and Monster Munch).

Kettle-style chips (known as hand-cooked in the UK/Europe) are traditionally made by the "batch-style" process, where all chips are fried all at once at a low temperature profile, and continuously raked to prevent them from sticking together. There has been some development recently where kettle-style chips are able to be produced by a "continuous-style" process (like a long conveyor belt), creating the same old-fashioned texture and flavor of a real kettle-cooked chip.

Non-potato based chips also exist. Kumara (sweet potato) chips are eaten in Korea, New Zealand and Japan; parsnip, beetroot and carrot crisps are available in the United Kingdom. India is famous for a large number of localized 'chips shops', selling not only potato chips but also other varieties such as plantain chips, tapioca chips, yam chips and even carrot chips. Plantain chips, also known as chifles or tostones, are also sold in the Western Hemisphere from Canada to Chile. In the Philippines, banana chips can be found sold at local stores. In Kenya, chips are made even from arrowroot and casava. In the United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland and Australia, a new variety of Pringles made from rice have been released and marketed as lower in fat than their potato counterparts.


See also


  1. ^ "PotatoPro/Datamonitor". Potatopro.com. Archived from the original on 15 Jul 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c William S. Fox and Mae G. Banner, Topics and Comments: "Social and Economic Contexts of Folklore Variants: The Case of Potato Chip Legends", Western Folklore (Western States Folklore Society), Vol. 42, No. 2 (Apr. 1983), pp. 114-126, accessed 20 June 2013
  3. ^ Jon Henley. "Crisps: a very British habit | Life and style". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-08-26. 
  4. ^ "George Crum: Inventor of Potato Chips". Black-inventor.com. Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "How potato chip is made - used, processing, product, machine, Raw Materials, The Manufacturing Process, Quality Control, Byproducts/Waste, The Future". Madehow.com. 6 January 1915. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  6. ^ "Civil War Recipes and Food History - The Potato During the Civil War". Civilwarinteractive.com. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  7. ^ The Story Behind the Dish: Classic American Foods By Mark McWilliams;2012; page 186
  8. ^ Food and Drink. "'Crisps buoyed Britain in its darkest hour'". Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-08-26. 
  9. ^ William Kitchiner (1822). The Cook's Oracle: Containing Receipts for Plain Cookery on the Most .... A. Constable & Company, Edinburgh, and Hurst, Robinson & Company, Cheapside. p. 208. 
  10. ^ "Mike Sells Chipper Shipper Online Store". Mike-sells.com. Retrieved 26 May 2009. 
  11. ^ "Mike-Sell’s celebrating 100 years of potato chips; The company could be the oldest continuous potato chip operation in world". Dayton Daily News, 16 May 2010.
  12. ^ "Potato Chips". Atlas of Popular Culture in the Northeastern US. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  13. ^ "Laura Scudder's". Web.archive.org. 17 September 2008. Archived from the original on 17 September 2008. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  14. ^ "Laura Scudder Was More Than a Name : Monterey Park Will Honor 'Pioneer, Instigator, Doer' Who Helped Create Snack-Food Industry". Los Angeles Times, 9 April 1989.
  15. ^ "The History and Origin of Potato Chips". Students.cup.edu. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  16. ^ Singh, Maanvi. "The Weird, Underappreciated World Of Plastic Packaging".  
  17. ^ "BBC h2g2 Potato Crisps - A History". BBC. Retrieved 26 May 2009. 
  18. ^ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/20/joe-spud-murphy-the-man-w_n_1437270.html
  19. ^ http://www.thenibble.com/REVIEWS/main/snacks/chip-history4.asp
  20. ^ a b McKay, Betsy (22 March 2010). "PepsiCo Develops 'Designer Salt' to Chip Away at Sodium Intake". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 22 March 2010. 
  21. ^ Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H. et al. (23 June 2011). "Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Women and Men". New England Magazine. Retrieved 15 July 2011. 
  22. ^ "NHS tooth decay prevention". Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  23. ^ Health hazard hidden in breakfast bowls, Action on Salt, 12 November 2004
  24. ^ "Lay's website". Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  25. ^ "Calbee Four Seas Co. Ltd.". Retrieved 24 August 2008. 
  26. ^ "Calbee カルビー株式会社". Calbee.co.jp. Retrieved 26 May 2009. 
  27. ^ "株式会社湖池屋|総合スナックメーカーのコイケヤ". Koikeya.co.jp. Retrieved 26 May 2009. 
  28. ^ "Walkers Flavour Cup". Retrieved 15 October 2010. 
  29. ^ "LAY'S". Frito-Lay. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  30. ^ "Zapp's Potato Chips". Zapps.com. Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  31. ^ "NIDDK...WIN Notes". Win.niddk.nih.gov. 21 February 1998. Retrieved 26 May 2009. 

Further reading

  • Banham, Rayner (1977) "The Crisp at the Crossroads", in P. Barker (ed) Arts in Society. London: Fontana.
  • Jones, Charlotte Foltz (1991). Mistakes That Worked. Doubleday.   – Origins of potato chips.

External links