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The Edison Of Grease

July 2024
1min read

Last year, three and a half billion pounds of potatoes were processed by the American potato chip industry. This year the Potato Chip/Snack Food Association erected a memorial plaque to the man who started it all. He was an Adirondack Indian named George Crum, and he invented the potato chip in a fit of rage. Crum (his real name was Speck, but he changed it, he said, because a crumb is larger) was the chef at Moon’s Lake House, a fashionable Saratoga Springs resort. Sometime during the 1853 season he received a complaint from a customer who haughtily demanded “properly thin french fries.” Furious, Crum retaliated by shaving the thinnest slices he could off some potatoes and frying them to a crisp. To his astonishment, the customer was delighted by the result. Soon “Saratoga Chips,” as they came to be called, were popular throughout the East. Crum left the Lake House and set up his own restaurant nearby, where people like Commodore Vanderbilt and Jay Gould waited in line to sample the famous chips. Moon’s Lake House is long gone, so the memorial plaque has been placed by a road two hundred feet from the site. Above is the father of the potato chip; the box, bearing a picture of the Lake House, held some of the first chips sold commercially.

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