Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Story of the Christmas Cracker


In 1830 a young Tom Smith was working as a baker and confectioner in London. He spent his off duty hours producing designs for different cakes and sweets which eventually enabled him to open his own business. He often travelled abroad in search of inspiration and it was on a trip to Paris in 1840 that he first saw the 'bon bon' a sugared almond wrapped in a twist of tissue paper. It was a simple idea which over the course of the next seven years would evolve into the Christmas Cracker
By placing a small love motto in the tissue paper Tom created an interest in his product especially at Christmas time. One evening during a search for inspiration he casually threw a log on the fire. The crackling sound made by the burning log gave him an idea that would lead to the crackers we know today. After a great deal of experimenting he came up with a mechanism that made a 'pop' as the sweet wrapping was broken. In time this became a snap and the cracker was born
Over the next few years his ideas evolved and the business grew so much that he moved from East London to the city centre in Finsbury Square. When he died his sons Tom, Walter, and Henry took over the business 
His three sons had a water fountain erected in Finsbury Square in memory of their mother Martha and father Tom, the inventor of the Christmas Cracker 

Walter introduced paper hats into the crackers, and travelled the world seeking new and unusual little gifts to be placed inside them 
The company were very aware of current affairs and used them as a way of expanding their business. They made crackers for the Suffragettes, War Heroes, Charlie Chaplin, and many great occasions including the Coronation. Exclusive crackers were made for the Royal Family and still are to this day 
via
via

I am not promoting these crackers, I discovered this information in my cracker during Christmas lunch at Longleat House 

67 comments:

  1. Hello Rosemary, Interesting to know the history behind these crackers, which feature the unusual combination of being innovative and charming at the same time. To the best of my knowledge, these never really penetrated to America--when you do see them, it is as a deliberate British import.
    --Jim
    PS I love those evocative Victorian vignettes with the crackers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Jim - I hadn't realised Christmas crackers had never really penetrated America - that explains Marks query after seeing them sitting on our Christmas lunch table at Longleat - he wondered what they were.

      Delete
  2. Nice story....
    I wish you a verry good christmas time...and the best wishes for 2015.

    Greetings,
    Inge, my choice

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Inge - Christmas greetings to you and your family and a good 2015

      Delete
  3. A very interesting, festive post Rosemary. We have always enjoyed Christmas crackers, or bon-bons, in fact I don't remember ever not having them. I had not thought about their origin, but am not surprised they appeared during the Victorian era, the source of many of our Christmas traditions. They have changed surprisingly little over almost two centuries: we still have the motto, the hat, the trinket and the little explosion! Christmas Greetings to you and H, Rosemary, and I hope you enjoy a very special Christmas Day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It appears that crackers are a British and Commonwealth Christmas traditions Patricia - I didn't realise this until some of the comments came in.

      Delete
  4. I didn't know this about the crackers - when you stop to think about all the Christmas traditions the history behind them is fascinating. Wishing you and yours a very happy and 'informative' Christmas Rosemary and thank you for taking the time to visit my blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I only discovered about them in my cracker at Longleat House - Christmas greetings to you too Elaine, I have enjoyed our exchanges during the year.

      Delete
  5. That is a nice story about the cracker. We don't know that tradition here, it is typical British. I bought one once when I visited the UK to see how it works.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did not realise before I posted this that they were mainly a British thing.

      Delete
  6. I read this as I packed some boxes of mini crackers to take to a family party today! Now I have a story to go with them, Thank you and Happy Christmas Rosemary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good - sometimes blogs are a useful source of information - enjoy your family party

      Delete
  7. I did not know the story behind the crackers! For many many years, I was in London for business in early December and each time I used to buy crackers -and Christmas pudding, mint jelly and cranberries!- for the family Christmas lunch. My children were delighted. The other guests were always asking about the crackers, as this is not a tradition with us!
    I wish you a very merry Christmas, dear Rosemary, and a happy new year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Before this post I had wrongly assumed that Christmas crackers were universal - Christmas pudding too!!!
      Thank you for your visit and kind comment - Christmas greetings to you and your family Marie-Anne

      Delete
  8. Oh I loved learning this history. For years a close group of our friends gathered together for a holiday dinner. One friend always brought Christmas crackers...and we all had to put on the little hats!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I can almost safely say that every home in the UK will have its box of Christmas crackers ready to pull open across the table with one another on Christmas Day.

      Delete
  9. Dear Rosemary, I love your presentation and it is interesting to know the "rest of the story" I never gave the origin much thought but have always had them handy along with the first glass of champagne, when celebrating New Years Eve.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like that idea Gina - a toast to the New Year followed by pulling a cracker - a good festive beginning to the year♡

      Delete
  10. What a wonderful story. I bet some frustration was met with the crackers. It's good his sons followed in his footsteps with their ideas.
    We have crackers for all at Christmas time :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They obviously spread to the Commonwealth too Margaret as they appear to be an unknown quantity in many parts of the world.

      Delete
  11. Fascinating history! One of my absolute musts at Christmas, are crackers. Suzy xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is part of our tradition isn't it? just like plum pudding and mince pies.

      Delete
  12. I had one of those crackers too with that information, it is fascinating isn't it. I really missed crackers when I lived in the US, couldn't get them there all those years ago, but I believe that you can now, amazing how these things spread isn't it. I do love Christmas crackers though!! xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think perhaps they are the creme de la creme of crackers, and when all is said and done I did get the information from my cracker received at a stately home! Happy Christmas to you too, I have enjoyed our exchanges over the year.

      Delete
  13. Very interesting. Some years we even have Christmas Crackers here in the States.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope that your daughter has arrived safe and sound with you

      Delete
  14. My family (and most families) didn't have Christmas crackers here in Canada until maybe the last 25 years or so. Before then, they were imported from Britain and were very, very expensive. So crackers are not part of my childhood memories, but are now a fun part of my adult memories of Christmas dinner!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Generally speaking they appear to be a British and Commonwealth thing. They certainly are not worth spending a lot of money on as they are simply fun.

      Delete
  15. Such an interesting story, Rosemary. Thank you for sharing it! Happy weekend and holidays!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad that you enjoyed it Satu - have a wonderful Christmas with your family

      Delete
  16. A lovely bit of Christmas history. We have Tom Smith crackers this year.

    Jean
    x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think perhaps that they are the best ones Jean - if they are good enough for royalty then they must be good enough for us.

      Delete
  17. Great story of Christmas history. Christmas crackers are not common in our country, but they are for sale in the city. I must remember Tom Smith crackers, better make a note of it. It is such fun for the boys, I think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope that the boys enjoy their crackers Janneke and that you all have a wonderful time

      Delete
  18. It was wonderful to learn the history behind one of our Christmas traditions. I expect the gifts inside those first crackers were lovely too. Thank you for sharing. Sarah x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is funny how we just take so many things for granted when I suspect there is often more of a story behind them than we realise. Happy Christmas in your new home Sarah.

      Delete
  19. Dear Rosemary,

    What a great story! There's a wonderful moral in it that says that if your passion is to bring delight into the world, success is bound to come your way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am pleased that you enjoyed the story behind the Christmas crackers Mark having spotted them on the lunch table at Longleat House.

      Delete
  20. We only ever buy Tom Smith crackers which, thankfully are now available here in the US from Costco. I grew up with this brand and of course I still try to share many English Christmas traditions with my family and American friends - pulling crackers, mince pies, Christmas cake and pudding, trifle, the Queen's speech etc. Tom's are definitely the best - unless you're with walking distance of Harrods, or other high class London emporiums that carry even more elaborate, very high-priced crackers! Tom's prizes are really good and I notice this year it states on the box that they are 'silver plated', they always have a lovely loud 'snap' too. Can't wait for Christmas Eve when we throw a party and crackers will be pulled by everyone!

    Thanks for the story Rosemary.
    A very Happy Christmas to you and yours!!!!
    Hugs - Mary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a good tip for anyone who wants to have a go at pulling a cracker over Christmas in the States. I was surprised that crackers are not universal which I had assumed until I wrote this post.
      Have a wonderful Christmas Mary and thank you for all the exchanges we have had together over the past year♡

      Delete
  21. Very nice post.
    Merry Christmas.
    Hyvää Joulua.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thank you for sharing the information contained in your cracker in such a sweet, clever, and creative way. I really enjoyed this post. Wish you a lovely Christmas, Rosemary.

    Yoko

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Yoko for your sweet comment, and for all the lovely visits you have made this year - a happy holiday season to you and all of your family.

      Delete
  23. What an interesting seasonal post, Rosemary.Í shall look at the cracker by my plate on Christmas Day in a new light now. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Strangely I have just heard them talking about the same subject on the Countryfile programme.

      Delete
  24. Loved the post Rosemary, and I wish you and your dear ones a very Merry Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Jane for all your kind comments throughout the year, and I too wish you a Happy Christmas.

      Delete
  25. Great post. Crackers are very much part of our family's Christmas tradition. They'd run out in our local tescos yesterday. Help!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good luck on your search, and have a Happy Christmas

      Delete
  26. As you say, Rosemary, "Snap!". Great minds obviously think alike - what can I say other than, "great post"?! Have a wonderful Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Enjoy your Christmas Mike and pull a cracker for me.

      Delete
  27. Who knew? We don't have this Christmas tradition here in the states, but I kind of wish we did. They look like 'snap, crackle and pop' fun. :) I hope you and your family have a fabulous Christmas, Rosemary, and a brilliant New Year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Apparently they can be purchased in Costco!!!
      Happy Christmas to you Yvette, and hope you enjoy time with your lovely little grandchildren.

      Delete
  28. ╔╔║⌂═╗
    ╠╠║║╔╝
    ║╚╚║╚═
    ╔╗║ ╔╗ ║║ ⌂ ╔╣ ╔╗ ╔╣
    ║║║ ╠╣ ║║ ║ ║║ ╠╣ ║║
    ║╚╝ ║║ ╚╝ ║ ╚╝ ║║ ╚╝
    ┊ ┊ ┊ ┊ ┊ ┊ ┊ ┊ ┊★
    ┊ ┊ ┊ ┊ ┊ ┊ ┊ ┊☆
    ┊ ┊ ┊ ┊ ┊ ┊ ┊♥
    ┊ ┊ ┊ ┊ ┊ ┊♡
    ┊ ┊ ┊ ┊ ┊★
    ┊ ┊ ┊ ┊☆
    ┊ ┊ ┊♥
    ┊ ┊♡
    ┊★
    ☆ MaRiBeL☆

    ReplyDelete
  29. Interesting information, thank you for them. I wish you a Merry Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Giga - Happy Christmas to you

      Delete
  30. Dearest Rosemary,
    What an interesting post.
    How many years have we been opening Christmas Crackers..pulling and tugging.. with lots of fun.
    Never passed my mind who invented them.
    Now i know.
    This post is full of lovely images ..

    Dear Rosemary,
    Thank you for your kind comments over the years on my blog.
    Its always such a pleasure to visit "Where five valleys meet"
    Wishing you and mr. H a wonderful Christmas.
    Kind regards to all your family.
    val xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Val - Thank you for your really kind and generous comments over the years. How long have we been connected now? I think that it must be about 3 years.
      Glad you enjoyed the post, we are heading off first thing in the morning. The hallway is full of boxes etc to take with us to youngest son's home.
      Wishing you a really happy time from us both at this Christmas season♡

      Delete
  31. Merry Christmas, Rosemary!! Warm greetings from DC~

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy Christmas to you and Tom Loi - have a wonderful time

      Delete
  32. A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your loved ones Rosemary! I bought a box of crackers this year too (hats inside and all) :-) First time ever! The girls look forward to it very much. Don't know if I do. Depends on the hat :-)

    Madelief x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope that you all enjoy the crackers Madelief - our hall is filled with boxes of goodies and we shall be setting off for my son's house at the crack of dawn - happy holidays to you and your girls.

      Delete
  33. I wish you the best Christmas ever Rosemary!
    Warm hug,
    Titti

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy Christmas Titti - thank you for your friendship during 2014♡

      Delete

❖PLEASE NOTE❖ Comments made by those who hide their identity will be deleted

“You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you - you have to go to them sometimes”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh