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A potato chip or crisp is a thin slice of potato that has been deep fried or baked 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, other natural flavors, artificial flavors and additives.

Potato chips
Alternative names Potato crisps
Course Snack, side dish
Place of origin United Kingdom, 1817
Serving temperature Room temperature
Cookbook: Potato chips  Media: Potato chips

Potato chips are a predominant part of the snack food and convenience 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 something similar to today's 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]

Saratoga SpringsEdit

However, a legend associates the creation of potato chips with Saratoga Springs, New York, decades later.[7] By the late nineteenth 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 24 August 1853.[10] The customer kept sending his French-fried potatoes back, complaining that they were too thick,[11] too "soggy," and/or not salted well enough. Frustrated, Crum personally sliced several potatoes extremely thin, fried the potato slices to a crisp, and seasoned them with extra salt. To Crum's surprise, the customer loved them.[12] They soon came to be called "Saratoga Chips,"[13] a name that persisted into at least the mid-twentieth 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 already renowned as a chef at the time, and by 1860, he owned his own lakeside restaurant, which he called Crum's House.[8]

Mass productionEdit

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, founded in 1908 as the Leominster Potato Chip Company, in Leominster, Massachusetts claim to be America's first potato chip manufacturer.[17][18]

Flavored chipsEdit

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.[19] The potato chip remained otherwise unseasoned until an innovation by Joe "Spud" Murphy, the owner of the Irish crisps company 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 and Salt & Vinegar.[20] Companies worldwide sought to buy the rights to Tayto's technique.[21]

The first flavored chips in the United States, barbecue flavor, were being manufactured and sold by 1954.[22][23][24] In 1958, Herr's was the first company to introduce barbecue-flavored potato chips in Pennsylvania.[25]

Potato chip bagEdit

Chips sold in markets were usually sold in tins or scooped out of storefront glass bins and delivered by horse and wagon. Early potato chip bags were 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.

In the 1920s, Laura Scudder,[26][27][28] 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.[29][30]

Kettle cookedEdit

Kettle-cooked chips

Traditional chips were made by the "batch-style" process, where all chips are rinsed with cold water to release starch,[31] fried all at once at a low temperature (300 °F (149 °C))[32] 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"[33] chips in the 2000s (known as hand-cooked in the UK/Europe). [34]

The Serious Eats Food Lab recommends: parboiling in vinegar-water for three minutes, then draining on a towel, then frying in oil until they stopped bubbling, for crispy non-kettle chips.[31]


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 concernsEdit

Most potato chips contain high levels of sodium, from salt. This has been linked to health issues such as high blood pressure.[35] However, researchers at Queen Mary, University of London in 2004 have noted that a small "bag of ready-salted crisps" contains less salt than a serving of many breakfast cereals, including every brand of cornflakes on sale in the UK."[36]

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.[37]

Unsalted chips are 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 for seasoning to taste.

Regional varietiesEdit

Salt and vinegar is a favorite variety of chip in the United Kingdom.


In Canada, seasonings include dill pickle,[38] jalapeño, ketchup,[38][39] barbecue, all dressed, sour cream and onion, and salt and vinegar. In 2006, Lay's introduced wasabi chips in Toronto and Vancouver,[40] but no longer offers them.[41] Loblaw, Canada's largest food retailer, offers several unusual flavors under its President's Choice brand, including poutine, maple bacon, Jamaican jerk chicken, Greek feta and olive, ballpark hot dog, and barbeque baby back ribs.[42]

Hong KongEdit

In Hong Kong, the two prominent potato chips are the spicy "Ethnican" variety by Calbee,[43] and barbecue by Jack 'n Jill. Lay's are also popular in Hong Kong.


In Ireland, the two main flavors are cheese and onion, and salt and vinegar. However in Ireland, the word "Tayto" is synonymous[citation needed] with potato chips after the Tayto brand and can be used to describe all varieties of chips, including those not produced by Tayto. Owing to the dominance of Tayto in the Irish market, the word has become a genericized trademark. 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 some vendors started to offer a number of other flavors such as sour cream & onion, cheese, oriental, or more exotic seasonings like "chakalaka", "currywurst", "pommes" (french fries), "Rot-weiss" (red and white - french fries with tomato ketchup and mayonnaise). Potato chips made from ground potatoes are called Stapelchips rather than Kartoffelchips for legal reasons.[further explanation needed]


In Colombia, lemon, chicken, chorizo, and sirloin steak with mushroom sauce flavored potato chips are sold.[44]

A bowl of pizza-flavored chips in Japan


In Japan, flavors include norishio (nori and salt), consommé, wasabi, soy sauce and butter, garlic, plum, barbecue, pizza, mayonnaise, and black pepper. Chili, scallop with butter, teriyaki, takoyaki, and yakitori chip flavors are also available. Major manufacturers are Calbee,[45] Koikeya[46] and Yamayoshi.

United KingdomEdit

McCoy's crinkle-cut crisps

The market in the United Kingdom is dominated by Walkers, which held 56% of the British crisp market in 2013.[47] Walkers is known for its wide variety of potato chips. The three main flavors are ready salted, cheese and onion, and salt and vinegar; however, other examples are prawn cocktail (which were incorrectly described in the media as being subject to an EU directive banning them), Worcester sauce, roast chicken, steak and onion, smoky bacon, lamb and mint, ham and mustard, barbecue, BBQ rib, tomato ketchup, sausage and ketchup, pickled onion, Branston pickle, and Marmite.

More exotic flavors are Thai sweet chili, roast pork and creamy mustard sauce, lime and Thai spices, chicken with Italian herbs, sea salt and cracked black pepper, sea salt and chardonnay wine vinegar, sea salt and cider vinegar, spicy and aromatic curry, turkey and bacon, caramelized onion and sweet balsamic vinegar, Stilton and cranberry, mango chili, and special flavors, such as American cheeseburger and English roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.[48] Kettle Foods Ltd's range of thick-cut crunchy potato chips 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. 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. Tayto is a popular brand in Northern Ireland. Since 2008, Walkers has launched its "Do Us a Flavour" campaign, challenging the UK public to think up unique flavours for their crisps. Six flavours were chosen from among the entries and released as special editions. Consumers could vote on their favourite, and the winner would become a permanent flavour.[49]

United StatesEdit

In the United States, popular potato chip flavorings include sour cream and onion, salt and vinegar, and barbecue.[50] 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.[51]


The Commonwealth Of Pennsylvania leads the United States in potato-chip production, and it has been dubbed "the Potato Chip Capital" by several sources.[52] Pennsylvania-based companies that produce potato chips include Utz Quality Foods, Herr's Snacks, Snyder's of Hanover, Wise Foods, Middleswarth Potato Chips,[53] Dieffenbach's Potato Chips,[54] Hartley's Potato Chips,[55] Gibbles Foods,[56] Stehman's Potato Chips, and Charles Chips. These are all member companies of "The Snack Food Association Of The United States."

New MexicoEdit

In New Mexico, jerky shops offer locally made chips (often kettle-cooked) flavored with local red or green chile, or a combination of the two (known as "Christmas").

Similar foodsEdit

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 dehydrated 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 cardboard or plastic canisters. Pringles are officially branded as potato crisps, but they are rarely referred to as such by Americans. 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[citation needed] 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.[57]

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.[citation needed] "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[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]


See alsoEdit


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Further readingEdit

  • 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. ISBN 0-385-26246-9.  – Origins of potato chips.
  • Burhans, Dirk E. (2008). Crunch!: a history of the great American potato chip. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 9780299227708. 

External linksEdit