potato chips
Potato chips, which were invented in Saratoga, New York, are more American than apple pie, which came here from Europe.





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KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE.



May 2005
Updated March 2009

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Snacks

A History of the Potato Chip

Page 4: The First Salted & Flavored Potato Chips

This is Page 4 of a five-page article. Click the black links below to view the other pages.


The First Salted & Flavored Potato Chips

Surprisingly, the commercial potato chip remained unseasoned until the 1950s. Salt was supplied in a sealed packet inside the chip bag—not what we would call user-friendly today. Then, Thomas Hutchinson, the owner of a Irish potato chip (or crisp, as they’re known in Great Britain) company called Tayto* pioneered a technology to add seasoning directly to the chip. The world’s first seasoned potato chips were Cheese & Onion and Salt ‘n’ Vinegar.

*Evidently, there were two different companies in Ireland called Tayto. Some sources give attribution for the invention of the seasoning to Joe Murphy of the other Tayto.

This innovation caused an overnight sensation in the food industry, with the heads of some of the biggest potato chip companies in the United States bee-lining it to the tiny Tayto tater company to examine the product and to negotiate rights to the new technology. When the Tayto company was eventually sold, it made the owner and the small family group who had changed the face of potato chip manufacture very wealthy. Companies worldwide sought to buy the rights to Tayto’s technique.

That Tayto Crisps innovation changed the very nature of the potato chip. Later potato chip manufacturers added natural and artificial seasonings to potato chips, with varying degrees of success. Today’s specialty manufacturers make upwards of a dozen different delicious flavors of chips. The first two flavored chips in the U.S. were Sour Cream & Onion and Barbecue, which remain the most popular flavors along with cheese-seasoned chips. Tayto endures as Ireland’s largest manufacturer of chips, and still makes the original Cheese & Onion and Salt ‘n’ Vinegar...as well as Ready Salted, Smoky Bacon, Spring Onion, Barbecue Beef, Prawn Cocktail, Wuster Sauce and Roast Chicken.†

American chip manufacturers are no slouches when it comes to fun flavors. Click here to see the flavors of some of our favorite gourmet chips.

†A classic of American “Trailer park cuisine” is the Potato Chip Sandwich: two slices of white bread spread with mayonnaise and heaped with potato chips. The top slice of bread is pressed down hard until all the potato chips are crushed. Imagine the nuances that Barbecue Beef or Roast Chicken chips would add to the potato chip sandwich.


Chip Flag

A flag made of potato chips, celebrating the 150th anniversary of America’s favorite snack in 2003. Photo courtesy of the Snack Food Association.



Continue To Page 5: Gourmet Potato Chips

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