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A potato chip (American English) or crisp (British English) is a thin slice of potato that has been deep fried or baked until crunchy. Potato chips are commonly served as a snack, side dish, or appetizer. The basic chips are cooked and salted; additional varieties are manufactured using various flavourings and ingredients including herbs, spices, cheeses, and artificial additives.
"Crisps", however, may also refer to many different types of savoury snack products sold in the United Kingdom and Ireland, some made from potato, but some made from corn, tapioca or other cereals, just as there are other varieties of chips in the United States.
Potato chips are a predominant part of the snack food market in Western countries. The global potato chip market generated total revenues of US$16.49 billion in 2005. This accounted for 35.5% of the total savoury snacks market in that year ($46.1 billion).
According to a traditional story in the United States, the original potato chip recipe was created in Saratoga Springs, New York. By the late 19th century, a popular version of the story attributed the dish to George Crum, a half black, half Native American cook at Moon's Lake House, who was trying to appease an unhappy customer on August 24, 1853. The customer kept sending his fried potatoes back, complaining that they were too thick. Frustrated, he sliced the potatoes razor thin, fried them until crisp and seasoned them with extra salt. To Crum's surprise, the customer loved them. They soon became called "Saratoga Chips", a name that persisted into at least the mid-20th century. A version of this story popularized in a 1973 national advertising campaign by St. Regis Paper Company, which manufactured packaging for chips, said that Crum's customer was Cornelius Vanderbilt. Crum was renowned as a chef and by 1860 owned his own lakeside restaurant, Crum's House.
In the United Kingdom, the origin of the potato chip is attributed to English food writer William Kitchiner's 1822 cookbook The Cook's Oracle, which was a bestseller in England and the United States, and includes a recipe for "Potatoes fried in Slices or Shavings", which instructs readers to "peel large potatoes, slice them about a quarter of an inch thick, or 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 earliest reference of the potato chip in the United States is in Mary Randolph's The Virginia House-Wife (1824), which includes a recipe explicitly derived from Kitchiner's earlier cookbook. Boston Housekeeper N.K.M. Lee's cookbook, The Cook's Own Book (1832), also contains a recipe for the potato chip that references Kitchiner's cookbook.
American author Brian D'Ambrosio writes, "William Kitchiner's The Cook's Oracle includes a recipe for what can only be described as a potato chip. Whether one called it a potato chip or not, it would seem that a thinly sliced potato cooked in hot oil and served sprinkled with salt existed before George Crum or his sister Katie Speck Wicks "invented" the potato chip."
In the 20th century, potato chips spread beyond chef-cooked restaurant fare and began to be mass-produced for home consumption. The Dayton, Ohio-based Mike-sell's Potato Chip Company, founded in 1910, identifies as the "oldest potato chip company in the United States". New England-based Tri-Sum Potato Chips, originally founded in 1908 as the Leominster Potato Chip Company, in Leominster, Massachusetts claim to be America's first potato chip manufacturer. Chips sold in markets were usually sold in tins or scooped out of storefront glass bins and delivered by horse and wagon. The early potato chip bag was wax paper with the ends ironed or stapled together. At first, potato chips were packaged in barrels or tins, which left chips at the bottom stale and crumbled.
Laura Scudder, an entrepreneur in Monterey Park, California started having her workers take home sheets of wax paper to iron into the form of bags, which were filled with chips at her factory the next day. This pioneering method reduced crumbling and kept the chips fresh and crisp longer. This innovation, along with the invention of cellophane, allowed potato chips to become a mass market product. Today, chips are packaged in plastic bags, with nitrogen gas blown in prior to sealing to lengthen shelf life, and provide protection against crushing.
In an idea originated by the Smiths Potato Crisps Company Ltd, formed in 1920, Frank Smith packaged a twist of salt with his chips in greaseproof paper bags, which were sold around London.
The potato chip remained otherwise unseasoned until an innovation by Joe "Spud" Murphy, the owner of an Irish chip company called Tayto, who in the 1950s developed a technology to add seasoning during manufacture. After some trial and error, Murphy and his employee, Seamus Burke, produced the world's first seasoned chips: Cheese & Onion, Barbecue, and Salt & Vinegar. This innovation was notable in the food industry. Companies worldwide sought to buy the rights to Tayto's technique.
Concurrently, the first flavoured chips in the United States, barbecue flavour, were being manufactured and sold by 1954. There is no agreement on which company was the first company to manufacture these chips, or if this development had predated the introduction of season chips in Europe. In 1958, Herr's was the first company to introduce barbecue-flavoured potato chips in Pennsylvania.
There is little consistency in the English-speaking world for names of fried potato slices, thick or thin. American and Canadian English use "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.
In the United Kingdom and Ireland, crisps are potato chips which are eaten cold, whilst chips are similar to french fries (as in "fish and chips") and are served hot. In Australia, some parts of South Africa, New Zealand, India, the general West Indies especially in Barbados, both forms of potato product are simply known as "chips", as are the larger "home-style" potato crisps. In the north of New Zealand, they are known as "chippies" but are marketed as "chips" throughout the country. In Australia and New Zealand, sometimes the distinction is made between "hot chips" (fried potatoes) and "potato chips". In Bangladesh, they are generally known as "chip" or "chips", and much less frequently as "crisps" (pronounced "kirisp") and locally, Álu Bhaja (for their similarity to the native potato bhajji).
In German speaking countries (Austria, Germany, Switzerland: "Kartoffelchips") and in countries of the former SFR Yugoslavia, fried thin potato slices are known as "chips" (locally pronounced very similar to the actual English pronunciation), with a clear distinction from french fries. In Brazil, "home-style" potato chips are known as batatas portuguesas ("Portuguese potatoes") if their sides are relatively smooth and batatas prussianas ("Prussian potatoes") if their sides show a wafer biscuit-like pattern, whilst American-like industrial uniform potato chips made from a fried potato purée-based dough are known as batata chips ("chips potato", alike "shredded potato"), or just chips.
Potato chips were originally deep-fried in lard and seasoned with salt. Later other fats were used, including vegetable oils and trans fats, the latter identified as having such serious adverse health effects they have been phased out by many manufacturers in the 21st century. Following concerns about nutrition, and the 20th-century formulation of Dietary Reference Intake guidelines in the US and Canada and similar guidelines in various countries, for decades consumers, advocacy groups, and health organizations have focused on the nutritional value (or lack thereof) of junk foods, including potato chips.
A recent long-term study determined that potato chip consumption was the greatest contributor to weight gain, having a stronger effect on weight gain than consumption of potatoes and soft drinks.
Some potato chip companies have responded to the criticism by investing in research and development to modify existing recipes and create health-conscious products. Kettle Foods was founded in 1978 and currently sells only trans fat–free products, including potato chips. PepsiCo research shows that approximately 80% of salt on chips is not sensed by the tongue before being swallowed. Frito-Lay spent $414 million in 2009 on product development, including development of salt crystals that would reduce the salt content of Lay's potato chips without adversely affecting flavour.
A big concern about the nutrition of potato chips is that because they are usually made with salt, they contain substantial levels of sodium. This had been linked to health issues such as high blood pressure, and potato chips' taste appeal caused people to overeat and become obese. But, researchers at Queen Mary, University of London in 2004 noted that a small "bag of ready-salted crisps" contains less salt than a serving of "Special K, All-Bran, Golden Grahams, Cheerios, Shreddies and every brand of cornflakes on sale in the UK."
Some chip vendors offer chips that have been baked instead of fried. Although these chips offer much lower fat content, many of the commercially produced baked potato chips contained more sodium than their fried counterpart from the same manufacturer. A better alternative is to bake your own potato chips and lower the sodium content by adding less or no salt.
There is also the option of non-ready-salted chips, e.g. the longstanding British brand Salt 'n' Shake, whose chips are not seasoned, but instead include a small salt sachet in the bag, such that the chips can be salted as much or as little as the purchaser would like.
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 desired shape before frying. This makes chips that are 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". Munchos, another brand that uses the term "potato crisps", has deep air pockets in its chips that give it a curved shape, though the chips themselves resemble regular bagged chips.
An additional variant of potato chips exists in the form of "potato sticks", also called "shoestring potatoes". 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 flavour version is popular in Canada, going by the vending machine 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. Walkers make a similar product (using the Smiths brand) called "Chipsticks" which come in Ready Salted and Salt and Vinegar flavours.
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 Indian snack cuisine, there is an item called HappLa in Kannada/vadam in Tamil, which is a chip made of an extruded rice/sago or multigrain base that has been around for many centuries.
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, Quavers, Skips, Hula Hoops and Monster Munch).
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 flavour 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 Canada 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, Finland and Australia, a new variety of Pringles made from rice have been released and marketed as lower in fat than their potato counterparts.
The process of making chips
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