No one knows for sure the true inventor of the potato chip. One story states that a recipe for “potatoes fried in slices” appeared in a cookbook in 1817. However, the most popular story is the story of George Crum in 1853. George Crum was an African American and Native American chef of a popular restaurant in Saratoga Springs, NY. One night, a customer complained that the fries were too thick so George made fries that were so thin you couldn’t even eat them with a fork. The customer ended up being very happy with these new fries and they became a hit. Later the name was changed to Saratoga Chips or potato crunches, and they continued to be served in restaurants.
In the 1920s, Herman Lay, a worker at Sunshine Biscuits, began travelling and selling potato chips out of the trunk of his car. They were popular so he decided to open H.W. Lay and Company to create more potato chips.
In 1926, Laura Scudder, the owner of a potato chip factory in California, created the wax paper bag which kept the chips fresh and crunchy. In the 1950s, Joe “Spud” Murphy, the owner of an Irish Crisp company named Tayto, figured out a way to season the chips during manufacturing. The first two flavors of potato chips were cheese and onion, and salt and vinegar. The first flavor of potato chips ever created in the United States was barbeque, followed by sour cream and onion.
Herman Lay later merged with the Frito Company in 1961. Frito-Lay creates some of the most popular snack foods of today including Lay’s and Ruffles potato chips, Doritos, Cheetos, Tostitos, Santitas, and Sun Chips. In 2020, Frito-Lay made 12.2 billion dollars in sales. Their most popular Lays flavors are plain, barbeque, sour cream and onion, salt and vinegar, and cheese.
Pennsylvania is the leading state in potato chip production.
11.2 million pounds of potato chips are consumed on Super Bowl Sunday in the United States.