The Confusing Upstate New York Origins of the Potato Chip
National Potato Chip Day occurs each year in March. We have extra incentive to celebrate, thanks to an Upstate New York restaurant and a somewhat confusing tale.
The stories about the inventor of potato chips vary. Some say it was a chef named George "Crum" Speck. Others insist it was a cook named "Eliza." Everyone agrees that both worked for a well-known establishment called Moon's Lake House that opened in Saratoga Springs in the mid-1800s, burned to the ground FOUR times over the years, and came to an end in the early-1980s.
Many believe that potato chips were kind of a mistake, and occurred only when a customer didn't care for his fried potatoes, because they were too thick and soggy.
An irate chef at Moon's brought them back to the kitchen and doused them in a ton of salt, sliced them really thin, and deep-fried the heck out of them, hoping they would become inedible. Instead, the potatoes were crispy and delicious. The customer loved them and actually ordered another batch.
Some accounts state that the irate customer was wealthy tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt. Not true. But, whoever it was helped give birth to a legendary food.
"Crum" later left Moon's and opened his own restaurant, where he served his "Original Saratoga Chips." According to Syracuse.com:
The name 'Saratoga Chips' was commonly used to refer to potato chips until the early 20th Century, and 'The Original Saratoga Chips Company' still exists and produces potato chips in Saratoga Springs today.
The full story of the potato chip's origins in Saratoga is well-chronicled in JSTOR Daily, "an online publication that contextualizes current events with scholarship."