They're crunchy, they're salty, they're delicious, and they...were invented in Upstate New York?

Believe it or not, all of that is describing potato chips, or so the story goes. The perfect snack, which comes in countless shapes, sizes and tastes, depending on where you shop for them, all derive from a creation made in our area, way back in 1853.

That said, while some believe this origin story, others are convinced that the chips created here may not actually be the first of their kind.

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The Legend of Potato Chips Being Invented in Saratoga Springs, NY

As the story goes, potato chips were allegedly invented at Moon's Lake House, in Saratoga Springs, New York, by a cook named George Crum. Crum was cooking a meal for a customer, which had a side of French fries come with it.

The customer continued to send them back to the kitchen, complaining that the fries were too large, or not salty enough, and needed to be cooked again. After enough returns to the kitchen, the cook got angry, and that's when George Crum inadvertently made history.

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Pringle's potato chips / Getty Images
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He sliced the potatoes to a near-paper-thin size, and tossed them in the fryer, deep-frying the taters to a crisp. He dumped them back on the plate, and served them to the customer, likely believing that he would upset the customer in doing so.

The reaction was anything but that, as the customer in question loved what had been presented to them. Crum ran with the idea, and soon after, Saratoga chips had been invented, and were the talk of the town in the Capital Region.

Other versions of the story claim that the customer at the restaurant was none other than Cornelius Vanderbilt. While it hasn't been completely confirmed, I couldn't find anything that denied it outright.

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Cape Cod potato chips / Getty Images (Bryan Bedder)
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Regardless, Crum was already a well-known cook in the area, but the chip concoction took him over the top, and he soon founded his own restaurant along Saratoga Lake, Crum's House, which opened in 1860. Potato chips, meanwhile, would become a staple in restaurants across the nation, and would enter mass-production in the early 1900's.


So, Where Do Other People Say They Were Invented?

There are disputes to the claim that the potato chip was officially invented in Saratoga Springs, New York. The reason for this is because of an 1822 cookbook, published by English chef William Kitchiner, which had a very similar recipe.

Here's how the recipe was described:

"...peel large potatoes... cut them in shavings round and round, as you would peel a lemon; dry them well in a clean cloth, and fry them in lard or dripping" -The Cook's Oracle

Other recipes have been found in an 1825 British cookbook about French food, as well as American-made cookbooks in 1824 and 1832. Needless to say, there are a number of cooks in this kitchen.

The history of the potato chip, and its origin, is far from certain. That said, the work of George Crum in Saratoga Springs, New York undoubtedly brought the snack the boost in popularity it needed in order to become the world-renowned snack food we know today.

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