The original potato chip recipe was created by George Crum, the son of an African American father and Native American mother, in Saratoga Springs, New York on August 24, 1853. Fed up with a customer who continued to send his fried potatoes back complaining that they were too thick and soggy, Crum decided to slice the potatoes so thin that they could not be eaten with a fork. As they could not be fried normally in a pan, he decided to stir-fry the potato slices. Against Crum’s expectation, the guest was ecstatic about the new chips and they soon became a regular item on the lodge’s menu, under the name “Saratoga Chips.” They eventually became popular throughout New York and New England. One version of this story identifies Cornelius Vanderbilt as the customer who wanted them thinner.
In the 20th century, potato chips spread beyond chef-cooked restaurant fare and began to be mass produced for home consumption; Dayton, Ohio-based Mike-sell’s Potato Chip Company, founded in 1910, calls itself the “oldest potato chip company in the United States”. Chips sold at markets were usually sold in tins or scooped out of storefront glass bins. The early potato chip bag was wax paper with the ends ironed together.