George Crum was born as George Speck in 1822 in Saratoga Lake, New York, the son of a Huron Native-American mother and an African-American father who worked as a jockey. He worked for a while as a mountain guide and trapper in the Adirondack Mountains in New York.
In 1853 he became the head chef at the Cary Moon’s Lake House in Lake Saratoga, New York and on one evening set out preparing the evening dinner for the guests. He intended to make french fries but a guest complained that they were too thick. Annoyed, he prepared another batch and sliced the potatoes extremely thin. After deep frying them in oil he found them very thin and very crisp and after adding salt found that the guests loved them. George began preparing the potatoes this way and they would soon become known as potato chips.
In 1860 George decided to open his own restaurant on Malta Avenue in Saratoga Lake. He featured potato chips as appetizers on each table. The restaurant was very successful and operated for 30 years, closing in 1890. Unfortunately, he never patented the potato chip, nor sought to market them outside of his restaurant. A few years after he retired, however, potato chips were mass marketed by others and would eventually become a six billion dollar a year industry.
George Crum | The Black Inventor Online Museum