A Chip off the Old Potato

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“A Chip off the Old Potato,” Friend, Oct. 1983, 23


A Chip off the Old Potato

An American Indian, George Crum, is believed to have invented the potato chip. One day when he was working as a chef in a hotel restaurant in Saratoga Springs, New York, a guest at the hotel sent his plate back to the kitchen, complaining that the fried potatoes were too thick. George felt insulted. “I’ll show him what thin is,” he fumed.

With that the chef cut a potato into paper-thin slices. Then he dropped them into a vat of boiling oil to cook. After removing the slices from the oil, he sprinkled them with salt and sent the dish of crisp chips out to the guest.

To the chef’s surprise, the man loved the chips, and so “Saratoga Chips” were born. Soon many people in the area were selling them.

Today’s potato chips are prepared from special potatoes grown just for chipping. Because potatoes are about eighty percent water, it takes about four pounds of potatoes to make one pound of chips.

Many people believe that potato chips are one of the “junk foods” we hear so much about. However, most brands of potato chips are made with no artificial preservatives and no additives. To make sure they are fresh when they arrive at the store, most chips are made near the stores where they are sold.

Because salt is sprinkled on the outside of a potato chip, it tastes saltier than it really is. Actually, one ounce of potato chips has about the same amount of salt as two ounces of cornflakes.

The recipe for potato chips can be found in most cookbooks. It has changed little from the recipe discovered in Saratoga Springs over a hundred years ago: Peel the potatoes, then slice them paper-thin. Soak the slices in cold water for two hours, changing the water twice. Drain and pat-dry the slices. Heat oil slowly to 380ºF (195ºC), then drop the slices one at a time into the hot oil. When the chips are light golden brown (30–40 seconds), remove them from the oil; drain, and sprinkle with plain or flavored salt.

Illustrated by Shauna Mooney; photo by Eldon K. Linschoten