A big crunch

The world's largest collection of used crisp packets went on show in a German museum this week.

by: AFP | 16 Apr 2008

Entitled "Snap! Towards the cultural history of a snack," the exhibit at the Hamaland museum in Vreden, northwest Germany showcases the 2,000 crisp bags of local resident Bernd Schikora.

The Guinness Book of Records says it is the biggest crisp packet collection in the world.

"Crisps are a snack whose history hasn't really been explored," museum director Annette Menke said.

The collection includes examples from Europe, the United States and Asia. These countries being part of an industry with global sales of 16.4 billion dollars in 2005 according to market research firm, Datamonitor.

"Their packaging over the years clearly shows trends in marketing strategy," Menke said.

Although crisps were first invented in the United States in 1853, where they are known as chips, Germans were only introduced to the snack after World War II when US soldiers arrived in Germany.

They were first made by chef, George Crum in the USA in 1853. He was annoyed by a patron who kept sending the French fries back to the kitchen complaining they were too thick. In frustration Crum cut the potatoes very thin and overdid the seasoning. To his surprise the patron was delighted with this new invention and thus the crisp was born.

Other anecdotes from the history of the crisp include the story that during World War II women packing the crisps would include little pieces of paper in the bag. On these were written their names and addresses; to draw the attention of lonely soldiers.

One part of the exhibit, which runs until June 1, includes a replica of a typical west German living room circa 1954, when the first round crisps were introduced, and when West Germany won the football World Cup.

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