Origins of the Christmas Crackers
Christmas crackers were first invented by a man called Thomas Smith it is thought around 1846. It is now traditional in the United Kingdom at Christmas to pull crackers. Thomas visited Paris he was a sweet maker himself, he came across a sweet called the bob-bon, a sugar almond wrapped in tissue paper (with a twist either side of the centrally placed sweet). Thomas decided to try selling similarly wrapped sweets in the lead up to Christmas in England. He also included a riddle or motto. However they did not sell very well at all.
One night, he had an idea while he was sitting in front of his log fire, he observed the sparks and cracks coming from the fire. He it would be fun if his sweets and toys could be opened with a crack when their fancy wrappers were pulled in half.
Crackers were originally called ‘cosaques’ and were thought to be named after the ‘Cossack’ soldiers who had a reputation for riding on their horses and firing guns into the air!
After Tom died, his expanding cracker business was taken over by his three sons, Tom, Walter and Henry. Walter introduced the hats into crackers, he travelled around the world looking for new ideas for gifts to put in the crackers.
The company built up a big range of ‘themed’ crackers. There were ones for bachelors and spinsters (single men and women), where the gifts were things like false teeth and wedding rings! There were also crackers for Suffragettes (women who campaigned to get women the vote), war heroes and even Charlie Chaplain! Crackers were also made for special occasions like Coronations. The British Royal Family still has special crackers made for them today!
They even made very expensive crackers such as the ‘Millionaire’s Crackers’ which contained a solid silver box with a piece of gold and silver jewellery inside it!
Some Cracker manufacturers even made large displays, such as horse drawn carriages and sleighs, for the posh shops in London.
The world’s longest Christmas cracker measured 63.1m (207ft) long and 4m (13ft) in diameter and was made by the parents of children at Ley Hill School and Pre-School, Chesham, Buckinghamshire, UK on 20 December 2001. Now that would be one big bang!
The biggest Christmas cracker pull was done by 1,478 people at an event organised by Honda Japan at Tochigi Proving Ground, Tochigi, Japan, on 18 October 2009. Now that would be a lot of bangs!