the CRACKER

Homes and Antiques Magazine - - CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS -

Ah, the crêpe pa­per hat. The sar­to­rial equiv­a­lent of roast turkey and cran­berry sauce or Wham!’s Last

Christ­mas, so deeply is it en­graved into our col­lec­tive con­scious. But, of course, we wouldn’t be si#ing around the din­ing ta­ble don­ning these cheery – yet charm­ingly sim­ple – hats were it not for the Christ­mas cracker. In­vented in 1847 by Tom Smith, a Lon­don con­fec­tioner, crack­ers are a tra­di­tion that Bri­tain can take full credit for. Smith was in­spired by the way Parisian bon­bons were wrapped (in tis­sue pa­per with a twist at each end) and played around with the de­sign, even­tu­ally hi#ing jack­pot when he re­placed the cho­co­late-coated sweets with a trin­ket, love mo#o and, cru­cially, a banger. By the 1860s, the cracker had be­come a fes­tive must-have and, by the close of the 19th cen­tury, the com­pany was pro­duc­ing 13 mil­lion a year.

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