Christmas crackers are a traditional Christmas treat in the UK – and they’ve been popular for over 100 years. Fans of vintage collectibles will get a kick out of them. Crackers take center stage at Christmas parties or Christmas dinner. One person grabs each end of the cracker and pull. It’s a literal bang; a tiny strip of chemicals reacts to pressure and gives off the sound of a snap when participants pull the cracker.
What do these crackers contain? Small toys, jokes or paper crowns are traditional.
So how did these crackers start? How did flimsy paper products become so popular?
It all starts with Thomas J. Smith of England, who designed the cracker shape to wrap candy bonbons (sweetmeats) in. But the bonbons were not as big a hit as Smith hoped for, so he started brainstorming other marketing methods. He had already designed the twist candy wrapper we’re familiar with, so he figured he’d try putting something other than bonbons in the middle. At first he tried putting love notes in the wrappers; later he changed the contents to trinkets we’re familiar with today (one of his sons later added the paper crowns and cheaper toys). Australians still call them bonbons based on their original design!
Smith came up with the cracker’s “bang” based on the crackle of logs on a fire. It’s half the fun!
Smith and his family even got their own memorial fountain in London in honor of the invention of Christmas crackers. And over 150 years later, the crackers are still going strong.
Does your family use Christmas crackers? What’s your favorite prize?