We have one each at the dinner table, plus then when friends drop over, we always have one for them to pull with us, plus some Christmas Cookies for them to take home.
But have you ever stopped to think where the idea of the Christmas Cracker with its little gift and silly hat and joke inside came from – well Sherlock here did some digging.
It seems that we owe the invention of the Christmas cracker to one Tom Smith, a baker of wedding cakes from Clerkenwell, London. The events that led to these wonderful creations are quite a story. One day in 1846, while he was enjoying the warmth of his fireplace, the crackle of a log gave him a new idea. He started experimenting to try to reproduce it in his sweets. By1847, he had been able to produce a product that when the two ends were pulled, the log fire crackle was reproduced. He did this by taking two strips of thin card and pasted small strips of saltpetre on them.
There were many failures and on certain occasions even his furniture and hands were burnt. Finally, he got it right. Within a year, Tom’s latest inventions had become a fashion; the sweets were very popular.
By now Tom, had become a successful businessman.
The sweets were first called ‘Cosaques’ after the cracking of the Cossack’s whips. It was only after a decade that they came to be known as Christmas crackers. Christmas crackers became so popular that many competitors sprung up in the market. The designer and colourful wrappers were used as promotional techniques and they were sold by half-a-dozen and one dozen packs in matching boxes. Thus, Tom Smith was virtually forced to get his designs patented and his company came to be known as the Tom Smith Crackers. By 1880s, Smith’s company had already produced over hundred cracker designs.
By 1900, Smith had sold more than 13 million crackers that were not only used at Christmas, but also at other festivities, fairs and coronations. Tom later added small toys to his crackers. In 1933, printed foil wrappers were introduced and then as the designs evolved glass pendants, brooches, bracelets and other jewellery were included in the collections.
In 1940, Smith went to Paris and came across ‘Bon bon’, an almond sweet wrapped in paper that was twisted. He liked the taste so much that he began selling the ‘new’ sweets in London which were a huge success.
Tom, who was always on a lookout for new promotion opportunities, noticed that his sweet had become popular gifts for loved ones and sweethearts of young men. The Chinese fortune cookie inspired him to introduce small slips of paper inside the wrapping that had love mottos on them.
Since then of course there would barely be a human alive who was not acquainted with “The Christmas Cracker” and I doubt one person who dislikes them … … or have I got this wrong?
Enjoy this little video – sing along with it, get yourself in the mood!
Here are some fantastic Christmas Crackers, I always order a couple of boxes and guess what they have a NUTCRACKER toy inside of them….WOO HOOOOOO!! They are gorgeous!
Until Next Time