A ‘Cracker’ of a story

Crackers are a feature at many Christmas dinner tables around the world. Not the edible ones, but the cardboard rolls, covered in paper and containing a joke and a small trinket or toy. We know what they are, but where do they come from?

The first crackers are thought to have originated in Victorian times. It is said that a man named Tom Smith, who was a cook in London, was inspired by the French custom of wrapping sugared almonds in paper.

Smith began to make his own ‘bon-bon’ sweets, later adding a sentimental message to them, not unlike fortune cookies.

Sales were slow however, until Smith added the ‘pop’, an idea he had after hearing his fire crackle. The banger was added, along with larger wrapping to incorporate the mechanism. Later, the sweet was dropped from the crackers, and the trinkets we know and love such as mini tool kits, yoyos, jigsaws, and toys were introduced. Similarly, the sentimental notes were eventually replaced with topical facts and notes, then puzzles, and finally jokes and riddles!

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