Black Inventors and Innovators - George Crum
George Speck Crum was born in 1822 and died in 1914 in Saratoga Springs, New York. Crum was the son of a mulatto jockey, Abraham Speck and an Indian maid, Catherine Speck. George Crum is credited with accidentally creating potato chip, although he never received a patent for his creation.
Crum was the head cook atthe Moon’s LakeLodge in Lake Saratoga, New York in 1853. The story is that one night at dinner Crum made french-fried potatoes which were thick cut French styled potatoes. These were made popular by Thomas Jefferson who brought the idea back from France in the 1700s. These thick cut potatoes were eaten with a fork and were popular across America. On this night a customer complained that the potatoes were too thick and sent them back to the kitchen. Crum was not happy and in retaliation he sliced the potato real thin, fried them until they were crispy and salted them. They were very thin and crisp and impossible to eat with a fork. Crum thought that this would anger the customer. To his surprise the unsatisfied diner was happy with this new creation. Other customers were clamoring for this new delicacy. Crum immediately made these a part of the menu calling them Saratoga Chips.
Pretty soon Saratoga Chips were so popular they were made in large batches, packaged in bags and sold around the area. The money that Crum made from selling Saratoga Chips enabled him to open his own restaurant in 1860. Crum’s new restaurant catered to the wealthy clients like the Vanderbilts and Hiltons to name a few. His restaurant stayed open for 30 years.
Saratoga Chips would remain a local treasure until a travelling salesman name Henry Lay made Potato Chips a popular product throughout the Southeast.
George Crum’s creation was a true accident, an accident that helped to launch a multi billion dollar industry that employs nearly 100,000 people today.
I am grateful to George Crum for his delicious accident, not only did he create a product he helped to create an industry.