Peru's Inca Indians first grew potatoes in the Andes Mountains in about 200 B.C. Spanish conquistadors brought potatoes to Europe, and colonists brought them to America. Potatoes are fourth on the list of the world's food staples – after wheat, corn and rice. Today, Americans consume about 140 pounds of potatoes per person every year while Europeans eat twice as many.


One of our favorite ways to eat potatoes is in the form of potato chips. While Benjamin Franklin was the American ambassador to France, he went to a banquet where potatoes were prepared in 20 different ways. Thomas Jefferson, who succeeded Franklin as our French ambassador, brought the recipe for thick-cut, French-fried potatoes to America. He served French fries to guests at the White House in 1802 and at his home, Monticello.


A native-American chef named George Crum created the first potato chips on August 24, 1853, at Moon Lake Lodge in Saratoga, New York. He became angry when a diner complained that his French fries were too thick, so he sliced the potatoes as thinly as possible making them too thin and crisp to eat with a fork. The diner loved them, and potato chips were born. In 1860 Chef Crum opened his own restaurant and offered a basket of potato chips on every table.


Joe "Spud" Murphy and Seamus Burke produced the world's first seasoned crisps, cheese & onion and salt & vinegar chips in the 1950s in Ireland. In the United Kingdom and Ireland crisps are what we in the United States call potato chips while chips refer to our French fries. Ketchup flavored chips are popular in the Middle-East and Canada. Seaweed flavored chips are popular in Asia and chicken flavored chips are popular in Mexico. Other flavors from around the world include: paprika, pickled onion, béarnaise, meat pie, chili crab, salmon teriyaki, borscht, caesar salad, roasted sausage, firecracker lobster, Roast Ox, haggis and black pepper, olive, and spaghetti.


About 27 pounds of potato chips are produced from 100 pounds of potatoes. Americans consume 2-4 billion pounds of potato chips every year, and spend more than $7 billion a year on them.