The first potato chips were meant as an insult.
Hotel chef George Crum enjoyed a wonderful knack for cooking. From his kitchen at Moon's Lake House near Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Mr. Crum could "take anything edible and transform it into a dish fit for a king." That skill came in handy – the upscale Lake House attracted customers who were used to being treated like kings.
In 1853, a cranky guest complained about Crum's fried potatoes. They were too thick, he said. Too soggy and bland. The patron demanded a new batch.
Crum did not take this well. He decided to play a trick on the diner. The chef sliced a potato paper-thin, fried it until a fork could shatter the thing, and then purposefully over-salted his new creation. The persnickety guest will hate this, he thought. But the plan backfired. The guy loved it! He ordered a second serving.
Word of this new snack spread quickly. "Saratoga Chips" became a hit across New England, and Crum went on to open his own restaurant. Today, that accidental invention has ballooned into a massive snack industry.