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Potato chips (American English: chips, Irish English and British English: crisps) are thin slices of potato that are deep fried or baked until crispy. Potato chips serve as an appetizer, side dish, or snack. Commercial varieties are packaged for sale, usually in bags. The basic chips are cooked and salted, and additional varieties are manufactured using various flavorings and ingredients including seasonings, herbs, spices, cheeses, and artificial additives. Chips are a major part of the snack food market in English-speaking countries and many other Western nations.


Saratoga chips, the first potato chips

The original potato chip recipe was created by George Crum, the son of an African American father and Native American mother, in New Yorkmarker 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 Yorkmarker and New Englandmarker. 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, Ohiomarker-based Mike-sell's Potato Chip Company, founded in 1910, calls itself the "oldest potato chip company in the United Statesmarker". 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.


There is little consistency in the English speaking world for names of fried potato cuttings. American and Canadian-English uses "chips" for the above mentioned dish—this term is also used (but not universally) in other parts of the world, due to the influence of American culture—and sometimes "crisps" for the same made from batter, and "French fries" for the hot crispy batons with a soft core. In the United Kingdommarker and Irelandmarker, "crisps" are the brittle slices eaten at room temperature and 'chips' refer to the hot dish (as in "fish and chips"). In Australia, New Zealandmarker and some parts of South Africa, both forms of potato product are simply known as "chips", as are the larger "home-style" potato crisps. Sometimes the distinction is made between "hot chips" (fried potatoes) and "packet crisps", or simply "potato chips" in Australia and New Zealand.


The global potato chips market generated total revenues of US$16.4 billion in 2005. This accounted for 35.5% of the total savory snacks market in that year (US$46.1 billion).

Seasoned chips

Initially, chips went unseasoned until a twist of salt was placed inside the bag, to be added when required. This idea was originated by the Smiths Potato Crisps Company Ltd formed in 1920. Frank Smith originally packaged them in greaseproof paper bags which were then sold around London.

The potato chip remained otherwise unseasoned until an innovation by Joe "Spud" Murphy (1923–2001), the owner of an Irish crisp company called Tayto, who developed a technology to add seasoning during manufacture in the 1950s. Though he had a small company, consisting almost entirely of his immediate family who prepared the crisps, the owner had long proved himself an innovator. After some trial and error, he produced the world's first seasoned crisps, Cheese & Onion and Salt & Vinegar.

An advertisement for Smith's Potato Crisps

The innovation became an overnight sensation in the food industry, with the heads of some of the biggest potato chip companies in the United States heading to the small Tayto company to examine the product and to negotiate the rights to use the new technology. When eventually the Tayto company was sold, it made the owner and the small family group who had changed the face of potato chip manufacturing very wealthy. Companies worldwide sought to buy the rights to Tayto's technique.

The Tayto innovation changed the whole nature of the potato chip, and led to the end of Smith's twist of salt. (Walkers revived the idea of "salt in a bag", following their take over of Smith's (UK) in 1979, with their Salt 'n' Shake potato crisps.) Later chip manufacturers added natural and artificial seasonings to potato chips, with varying degrees of success. A product that had had a large appeal to a limited market on the basis of one seasoning now had a degree of market penetration through vast numbers of seasonings. Various other seasonings of chips are sold in different locales, including the original "Cheese and Onion", produced by Tayto, which remains by far Ireland's biggest manufacturer of crisps.

Perhaps the most extreme version of seasoned chips were the fruit flavored chips that were (very) briefly sold in Canada in the late seventies (in orange, cherry and grape flavors). These were not a success, and they were rapidly discontinued.

Examples of regional varieties

Hedgehog flavored crisps

  • In the US, the most popular forms of seasoned potato chips include "sour cream and onion", "barbecue", "ranch", salt & vinegar, and cheese-seasoned chips, including nacho flavor and cheddar (usually with sour cream). In the Chesapeake Bay area, Utz distributes Beer Chips, which are flavored with beer; and "crab chips", flavored with an Old Bay analogue seasoning but containing no actual crab. Pennsylvania-based Herr's has a similar "Old Bay" variety. Herr's also produces a ripple chip featuring Heinz ketchup seasoning./> In Louisiana, Zapp's (located just west of New Orleans) manufactures chips in flavors such as Cajun Crawtator (flavored with crawfish boiling seasonings) and Creole Tomato (flavored with Tabasco pepper sauce). Stores in Arizona and some of the other Southwestern states sell lime flavored chips using the Mexican name, "Limón".
  • In Canadamarker, seasonings include dill pickle, ketchup, all-dressed, salt and vinegar, barbecue, salt and pepper, bacon, chicken, fries and gravy, and even curry. In Torontomarker and Vancouvermarker, Lay's offers wasabi chips to appeal to the large Asian populations.
  • The market in United Kingdommarker is dominated by Walkers (at present a regional brand of Lays) which is known for its wide variety of crisps. The three main flavors are ready salted, cheese & onion and salt & vinegar, however other typical examples include prawn cocktail, worcestershire sauce (known by Walkers as Worcester Sauce), roast chicken, steak & onion, smoky bacon, lamb & mint, ham & mustard, barbecue, BBQ rib, tomato ketchup, sausage & ketchup, pickled onion, Branston Pickle, Marmite and more exotic seasonings such as Thai sweet chili, roast pork & creamy mustard sauce, lime and Thai spices, chicken with Italian herbs, sea salt and cracked black pepper, turkey & bacon, caramelized onion & sweet balsamic vinegar, stilton & cranberry and mango chili. Kettle Foods Ltd's range of thick-cut crunchy crisps include gourmet flavors: Mexican Limes with a hint of Chilli, Salsa with Mesquite, Buffalo Mozzarella Tomato and Basil, Mature Cheddar with Adnams Broadside Beer, Soulmate Cheeses and Onion, and other previously listed flavors. Most seasonings contain only vegetarian-friendly ingredients, although some recent seasonings such as lamb & mint sauce contain meat extracts. In the early 1980s, there even existed 'Hedgehog flavoured crisps', these were widely on sale and received large publicity. McCoys Crisps are also popular in the UK. In Northern Irelandmarker Tayto Ltd. dominate the market. This company is entirely unrelated to the Tayto company in the Republic of Ireland. In the north of England Seabrook Potato Crisps are also popular, but they are much less common in the south.
  • In Irelandmarker, the common varieties of crisps are mostly the same or similar to the ones sold in the UK. However in Ireland, Tayto are synonymous with crisps after the Tayto brand. Walkers crisps were launched there several years ago, but have failed to dominate the market. Hunky Dorys and King crisps are other popular Irish brands. In Irish, crisps are known as criospaí or brioscáin (phrátaí).
  • Japanmarker also has a vast range of seasonings; they include nori & salt, consommé, wasabi, soy sauce & butter, takoyaki, kimchi, garlic, chili, scallop with butter, ume, mayonnaise, yakitori and ramen. Major manufacturers are Calbee, Koikeya and Yamayoshi.
  • In Hong Kongmarker, the two prominent potato chips are the spicy "Ethnican" variety by Calbee, and barbecue by Jack'n Jill. Lay's are also popular in Hong Kong. (With the most popular being BBQ and sour cream and onion.)
  • South Africa has a large variety of potato chip flavors, including "fruit chutney", "biltong" (beef jerky), "sausage", "worcestershire sauce", and "tomato sauce" (ketchup flavor) among many others.
  • In mainland China, Lay's has introduced potato chips flavored in different Chinese cuisine, world cuisine, and even unexpected flavors such as cucumber.
  • On the other hand, in Germanymarker and many continental EU countries the vast majority of chips sold are paprika flavor.
  • In Germanymarker and Polandmarker, beer flavored chips are available.
  • In the Netherlandsmarker the market is dominated by Lay's; they offer a large variety of flavors, like: 'naturel' (salted), paprika, bolognese (Italian herbs and tomato), barbecued ham, cheese & onion, Mexican herbs, Heinz tomato ketchup, chilli, spareribs, Mediterranean herbs, Thai sweet chili, Oriental spices, pepper & cream, chicken & thyme and spices & lime. In spite of all the flavors the old fashioned naturel (salted) and paprika crisps are most common and most popular.
  • In Norwaymarker, most chips are flavored with salt, salt and pepper or paprika. Major brands include KiMs, Maarud and HOFF.
  • In Austriamarker, garlic flavored potato chips are available, and the restaurant Schweizerhausmarker offers fresh and deep-fryer-hot potato slices.
  • In Greecemarker, oregano flavored chips are very popular.
  • In Mexicomarker, many flavors feature spiciness.Popular flavors are Salt, Lime, Habanero, 'Chile y Limón' and Cheese.
  • In New Zealandmarker the most popular varieties of potato chips are Ready Salted, Salt n' Vinegar and Chicken. In 2009, Bluebird Foods Limited released a unique range of chips made up of classic New Zealand loved flavors such as 'Meat Pie and Ketchup' and 'Reduced Cream and Onion Soup Dip'. The range is named 'Kiwi As'.
  • In Colombiamarker, the five main flavors of chips are Natural (Ready Salted), BBQ, Chicken, Mayonnaise and Lemon.
  • In Spainmarker, the most popular flavors are plain (fried with olive oil and salted), and ham flavor.
  • In the Philippinesmarker, local favorites include cheese, barbecue, and sour cream and onion.
  • In Indiamarker , there are a number of flavored varieties both in locally made and multi-national brands such as Lay's. Some flavors are Tomato, Pudina (mint), Masala, Coriander, Salt and Pepper, and Red Chili powder. Most popular chip varieties are potato, tapioca, and plantain (yellow and green, each with its own distinct taste).
  • In Australia the popular flavors are plain (salted), salt & vinegar, chicken, bbq, and sour cream & chives.
  • In some Middle Eastern countries , many popular American flavors and chicken flavored chips are available. In others, salt and salt and pepper varieties are the most popular.
  • In Serbiamarker, most popular potato chips are plain (salted), Pizza, bacon and ketchup flavored. The Chipsy company holds most of the Serbian potato-chip market.
  • In Russiamarker, the popular flavors are plain (salted), onion, paprika, black pepper, and sour cream, with more unusual varieties like bacon, Shashlik, crab, and caviar also on the market. Both Lays and Pringles brands of potato chips are widespread, and Russian companies like Perekrestok also manufacture their own chips.

Similar foods

Another type of potato chip, notably the Pringles and Lay's Stax brands, is made by extruding or pressing a dough made from ground potatoes into the patented potato chip shape before frying. This makes chips that are very uniform in size and shape, which allows them to be stacked and packaged in rigid tubes. In America, the official term for Pringles is "potato crisps", but they are rarely referred to as such. Conversely Pringles may be termed "potato chips" in Britain, to distinguish them from traditional "crisps".

An additional variant of potato chips exists in the form of "potato sticks", also called "shoestring potatoes" and in Great Britain "chipsticks". These are made as extremely thin (2–3 mm) versions of the popular french fry but are fried in the manner of regular salted potato chips. A hickory-smoke flavor version is popular in Canada, going by the name "Hickory Sticks".Potato sticks are typically packaged in rigid containers, although some manufacturers use flexible pouches, similar to potato chip bags. Potato sticks were originally packed in hermetically sealed steel cans. In the 1960s, manufacturers switched to the less expensive composite canister (similar to the Pringle's container). Reckitt Benckiser was a market leader in this category under the Durkee Potato Stix and French's Potato Sticks names, but exited the business in 2008.

A larger variant (approximately 1 cm thick) made with dehydrated potatoes is marketed as Andy Capp's Pub Fries, using the theme of a long running British comic strip which are baked and come in a variety of flavors.

Some companies have also marketed baked potato chips as an alternative with lower fat content. Additionally, some varieties of fat-free chips have been made using artificial, and indigestible, fat substitutes. These became well-known in the media when an ingredient many contained, Olestra, was linked in some individuals to abdominal discomfort and loose stools.

The success of crisp fried potato chips also gave birth to fried corn chips, with such brands as Fritos, CC's and Doritos dominating the market. "Swamp chips" are similarly made from a variety of root vegetables such as parsnips, rutabagas and carrots. Japanese-style variants include extruded chips, like products made from rice or cassava. In South Indianmarker snack cuisine, there is an item called vadam which is a chip made of an extruded rice/sago base.

There are many other products which might be called "crisps" in Britain, but would not be classed as "potato chips" because they aren't made with potato and/or aren't chipped (for example, Wotsits).

Kettle-style chips (known as hand-cooked in the UK/Europe) are traditionally made by the "batch-style" process, where all chips are fried all at once at a low temperature profile, and continuously raked to prevent them from sticking together. There has been some development recently where Kettle-style chips are able to be produced by a "continuous-style" process (like a long conveyor belt), creating the same old-fashioned texture and flavor of a real kettle-cooked chip.

Non-potato based chips also exist. Kumara (sweet potato) chips are eaten in Korea, New Zealand and Japan; parsnip, beetroot and carrot crisps are available in the United Kingdom. India is famous for a large number of localized 'chips shops', selling not only potato chips but also other varieties such as plantain chips, tapioca chips, yam chips and even carrot chips. Plantain chips, also known as chifles or tostones, are also sold in the Western Hemisphere from Florida to Chile. In the Philippines, banana chips can be found sold at local stores. In Kenya, chips are made even from arrowroot and casava. In the United Kingdom, Sweden and Australia, a new variety of Pringles made from rice have been released and marketed as lower in fat than their potato counterparts. Recently, the Australian company Absolute Organic has also released chips made from beetroot.



  • – Origins of potato chips

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