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For the American composer, see George Crumb. For the conductor and music coach, see George Crum (musician)

George "Speck" Crum (1822 – 1914) was the African/ Native American head chef of Moon's Lake House, a resort in Saratoga Springs, New York, USA. He is widely credited as the inventor of potato chips. According to one version, on August 24, 1853, a customer complained that Crum's french fries were "too thick." The angered cook was frustrated by this remark, so he decided to give the maximal opposite of what the client was complaining about: he sliced potatoes paper-thin, over fried them to a crisp and seasoned them with an excess of salt. When the crisps were prepared, he gave them to the customer, who loved them. The chips became popular, and became known as Saratoga Chips. Crum was able to open his own restaurant with the profits he made selling his new chips. They remained a local delicacy until the Prohibition era, when an enterprising salesman named Herman Lay popularized the product throughout the Southeast United States.

According to Urban legend, the hard-to-please customer in Saratoga Springs was none other than railroad magnate Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, but more than likely it was a much more obscure customer.[1]

Although it is widely accepted that the potato chip was invented at Moon's Lake House, there is some controversy as to the true inventor. It is curious that a biography commissioned by Crum himself in 1893 did not mention his famous invention.[2] It is possible that Crum's sister, Katie Wicks, either made the first discovery herself or in conjunction with Crum.[3] A contemporary source even gives credit to Cary Moon's wife Harriet, stating that she developed the side dish over time.[4]

However, the surviving evidence, memories of contemporary residents, and oral traditions point to George Crum either being the sole inventor or one of the inventors. The lack of a patent by the actual inventor will always leave the matter in doubt.

Sources and notes

  1. ^ Snopes, which lists its sources
  2. ^ History of Saratoga County, New York. Nathaniel Sylvester
  3. ^ Invented in Saratoga County. Timothy Starr, 2008
  4. ^ New York Times







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