Potato chip (or crisps) sales generate about $6 billion dollars in sales every year and is one of the world’s most popular snack foods.
As popular as it is today, one would think it was the brain child of some White man named “Lays” or something…. but this is not the case.
As we’ve already discussed, African-Americans learned to preserve foods through the frying process from Native Americans. However, what led George (Speck) Crum, the son of a Native-American mother and African-American father, to invent the potato chip was not his heritage but an opportunity for revenge.
Born as George Speck in 1828…he adopted the professional name “Crum,” a name his father also used in his career as a jockey. In his early years, Crum worked as a trapper and a mountain guide in the Adirondacks before he realized his talents with food.
In the summer of 1853, Crum was working as a chef at the Moon Lake Lodge, an elegant resort in Saratoga Springs. As the story goes, Crum was cooking in the kitchen one day when a guest sent back the restaurant’s popular French-fried potatoes complaining that they were too thick. An angry Crum grabbed a new potato and sliced it spitefully thin, so thin that the guest would not be able to eat it with a fork. Fried in oil and salted, these crispy potato slices were sent out. And the guest loved them! Crum had stumbled upon what would become America’s favorite snack.
So, it was a complete accident. From then on, the chips, which Crum named “Saratoga Chips,” appeared on the Moon Lake Lodge’s menu as a house specialty.
In 1860 George Crum opened his own restaurant [“Crum’s House”] on Malta Avenue in Saratoga Lake featuring potato chips in baskets on each table. The restaurant was successful for 30 years, serving several rich and famous guests of Saratoga. Crum closed his establishment in 1890, and he died later in 1914 at the age of 86.
Of course, others would come along and realize the profitability of potato chips and the rest is [White] history…
(via The Free George, George Crum’s Memorial)