Potato chip

"Crisp" redirects here. For other uses, see Crisp (disambiguation).
For the thicker batons of potato sometimes known as "chips", see French fries.
Potato chips
Alternative names Potato crisps
Course Snack, side dish
Place of origin England 1817
Serving temperature Room temperature
Cookbook: Potato chips  Media: Potato chips

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

More generally, crisps and chips include savory snack products made from not just potato, but also corn, tapioca, or other cereals, and root vegetables.

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]


The earliest known recipe for potato chips is in William Kitchiner's cookbook The Cook's Oracle, first published in 1817, which was a bestseller in England and the United States. The 1822 edition's version of recipe 104 is called "Potatoes fried in Slices or Shavings" and reads "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".[2][3]

Early recipes for potato chips in the United States are found in Mary Randolph's Virginia House-Wife (1824),[4] and in N.K.M. Lee's Cook's Own Book (1832),[5] both of which explicitly cite Kitchiner.[6]

Nonetheless, a legend associates the creation of potato chips with Saratoga Springs, New York, decades later.[7] By the late 19th century, a popular version of the story attributed the dish to George Crum, a half-black, half-Native American cook[8][9] at Moon's Lake House, who was trying to appease an unhappy customer on August 24, 1853.[10] The customer kept sending his French-fried potatoes back, complaining that they were too thick.[11] 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.[12] They soon became called "Saratoga Chips",[13] 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.[8] Crum was renowned as a chef and by 1860 owned his own lakeside restaurant, Crum's House.[8]

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".[14][15][16] 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.[17][18] 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.

Kettle-cooked chips

Laura Scudder,[19][20] 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.[21][22]

Traditional chips were made by the "batch-style" process, where all chips are fried all at once at a low temperature and continuously raked to prevent them from sticking together. Industrial advance resulted in a shift to production by a "continuous-style" process, running chips through a vat of hot oil and drying them in a conveyor process. Consumer desire for original style chips resulted in the introduction of traditionally made "kettle-style" chips in the 2000s (known as hand-cooked in the UK/Europe).

Flavored chips

An advertisement for Smith's Potato Crisps

In an idea originated by the Smiths Potato Crisps Company Ltd, formed in 1920, Frank Smith packaged a twist of salt with his chips in greaseproof paper bags, which were sold around London.[23]

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.[24] This innovation was notable in the food industry. Companies worldwide sought to buy the rights to Tayto's technique.[25]

The first flavored chips in the United States, barbecue flavor, were being manufactured and sold by 1954.[26][27][28] In 1958, Herr's was the first company to introduce barbecue-flavored potato chips in Pennsylvania.[29]


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

Little consistency exists 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 world, 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 "chips" or "potato chips". In Bangladesh, they are generally known as "chip" or "chips", and much less frequently as "crisps" (pronounced "kirisp") and locally, alu bhaja (for their similarity to the native potato bhajji).

In German-speaking countries (Austria, Germany: "Kartoffelchips"; Switzerland: "Pommes Chips") and 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" ("potato chips"), or just "chips".

Health concerns

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. Researchers at Queen Mary, University of London in 2004 noted, though, 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."[30]

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 about 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.[31]

Also, the option of unsalted chips is available, e.g. the longstanding British brand Salt 'n' Shake, whose chips are not seasoned, but instead include a small salt sachet in the bag, such that the chips can be salted as much or as little as the purchaser would like.

Regional varieties

Salt and vinegar is a common flavor of chip in the United Kingdom.
A bowl of pizza-flavored chips in Japan

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 to 3 mm) versions of the popular French fry, but are fried in the manner of regular salted potato chips. A hickory-smoke-flavored 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 Pringles 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. In 2014, French's reentered the market.

A larger variant (about 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 sold in a variety of flavors. Walkers make a similar product (using the Smiths brand) called "Chipsticks" which are sold in ready-salted and salt and vinegar flavors.

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.[45]

Flavored corn chips such as Fritos are an outgrowth of traditional fried tortilla chips.

Americans' appetite for crispy snacks gave birth to the packaged, flavored 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, an item called happla in Kannada/vadam in Tamil, is a chip made of an extruded rice-sago or multigrain base that has been around for many centuries.

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

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 from arrowroot and casava. In the United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland, and Australia, a new variety of Pringles made from rice has been released and marketed as lower in fat than its potato counterparts.


See also


  1. "PotatoPro/Datamonitor". Potatopro.com. Archived from the original on 2011-07-15. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
  2. Berry, Steve & Norman, Phil (2014-07-14). "'Crisps buoyed Britain in its darkest hour'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
  3. Kitchiner, William (1822). The Cook's Oracle: Containing Receipts for Plain Cookery on the Most ... A. Constable & Company, Edinburgh, and Hurst, Robinson & Company, Cheap-sid. p. 208. OCLC 3878292. Potatoes fried in Slices or Shavings
  4. Randolph, Mary (1838) [1824]. The Virginia Housewife: or Methodical Cook. Baltimore: John Plaskitt. p. 97. OCLC 57123160. To Fry Sliced Potatos [sic]
  5. Lee, N.K.M. (A Boston Housekeeper) (1832). The Cook's Own Book: Being A Complete Culinary Encyclopedia: Comprehending All Valuable Receipts For Cooking Meat, Fish, And Fowl, And Composing Every Kind Of Soup, Gravy, Pastry, Preserves, Essences, &c. That Have Been Published Or Invented During The Last Twenty Years. Particularly The Very Best Of Those In The Cook's Oracle, Cook's Dictionary, And Other Systems Of Domestic Economy.Diamond Mb With Numerous Original Receipts, And a Complete System of Confectionery. Boston: Munroe and Francis; New York: Charles E. Francis and David Felt. p. 192. OCLC 56906530. Potatoes Fried In Slices Or Ribbons
  6. McWilliams, Mark (2012). The Story Behind the Dish: Classic American Foods. ABC-CLIO. p. 186. ISBN 9780313385100.
  7. Smith, Merril D. (2013). History of American Cooking. ABC-CLIO. p. 93. ISBN 9780313387111.
  8. 1 2 3 Fox, William S. & Banner, Mae G. (April 1983). "Social and Economic Contexts of Folklore Variants: The Case of Potato Chip Legends". Western Folklore. Western States Folklore Society. 42 (2): 114–126. JSTOR 1499968.
  9. Upton, Kim (2003-07-03). "Any Way You Slice It, Potato Chip's Going Strong After 150 Years". Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel.
  10. Henley, Jon (2010-09-01). "Crisps: a very British habit | Life and style". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
  11. "George Crum: Inventor of Potato Chips". Black-inventor.com. Retrieved 2014-01-13.
  12. McNulty, Mary F. "How potato chip is made - used, processing, product, machine, Raw Materials, The Manufacturing Process, Quality Control, Byproducts/Waste, The Future". Madehow.com. Retrieved 2010-08-03.
  13. "Civil War Recipes and Food History - The Potato During the Civil War". Civilwarinteractive.com. Archived from the original on 2014-10-22. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  14. "About Us". Mike-sell's. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
  15. Katz, Marc (2010-05-16). "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. Cogliano, Joe (2012-05-14). "Mike-sell's names new CEO". Dayton Business Journal.
  17. Harmon, John E. "Potato Chips". Atlas of Popular Culture in the Northeastern US. Archived from the original on 2011-02-20. Retrieved 2014-12-31.
  18. Radvon, Erik (2008-10-17). "Tri-Sum Chips celebrates 100 years: Leominster staple is oldest surviving potato chip in America". Leominster Champion.
  19. "Our History". Laura Scudder's. 2008-09-17. Archived from the original on 2008-09-17. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  20. Hudson, Berkley (1989-04-09). "Laura Scudder Was More Than a Name: Monterey Park Will Honor 'Pioneer, Instigator, Doer' Who Helped Create Snack-Food Industry". Los Angeles Times.
  21. "The History and Origin of Potato Chips". Students.cup.edu. Archived from the original on 27 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-03.
  22. Singh, Maanvi (2014-07-24). "The Weird, Underappreciated World Of Plastic Packaging". NPR. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
  23. "BBC h2g2 Potato Crisps - A History". BBC. 2006-12-07. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
  24. "Joe 'Spud' Murphy: The Man Who Gave Potato Chips Flavor". Huffington Post. 2012-04-20.
  25. Hochman, Karen. "A History of the Potato Chip: Page 4: The First Salted & Flavored Potato Chips". The Nibble.
  26. Pease, Sue (2002-08-05). "Lays flavor is chip off the Memphis barbecue block". Memphis Daily News.
  27. Atwood, Liz (2003-07-02). "Palate-pleasing Chips: Snack Phenomenon Comes In All Flavors, Shapes And Colors". Newport News Daily Press.
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  32. 1 2 "Martin Short partners with the Lay's® brand and invites Canadians to create the brand's next big flavour" (Press release). PepsiCo Canada. 2013-02-04.
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Further reading

External links

Look up potato chip in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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