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.