You’ve likely munched on many potato chips in your lifetime, but do you know how they came to be? In George Crum and the Saratoga Chip, Gaylia Taylor tells the story of the potato chip and the man who invented them, George Crum.
When George Crum grew up in the 1830s, he faced some difficulties because he was part Native American and part African American. He met these difficulties with determination and mischievousness, qualities that ultimately led to his most famous creation. George loved the outdoors, and when he finished school he made his living hunting and fishing to supply local restaurants with fresh game and fish. While he was hunting, he met another hunter from France who taught him how to cook fine dishes over a campfire. George discovered that he loved to cook! He enjoyed experimenting with spices and seasonings and making his dishes taste just right.
George loved cooking so much that he decided to become a chef. It wasn’t easy for him to find a restaurant that would give him a chance, but he finally got a job at Moon’s Lake House in Saratoga Springs, New York. Most customers loved his cooking, but he also had to deal with a lot of picky customers who would give George and the wait staff a hard time. One day, a lady ordered French fries, which were a relatively new dish. George made what he thought were the perfect French fries, but the lady sent them back, saying they were too thick. George decided he would show her how thin he could make them and sliced them as thin as he could and then cooked them in oil. He took them out to her, hoping to enjoy the customer’s reaction to these thin potatoes, but to his surprise, she loved them! The potatoes became a sensation!
George eventually left Moon’s Lake House to open his own restaurant, Crum’s Place, where everyone was treated equally. George’s story, written wonderfully by Taylor, shows that many obstacles can be overcome with enough hard work and the right attitude. George didn’t enjoy school, so he found a way to make his living in the outdoors. When he found his passion for cooking, he pursued it until he had the job he wanted and didn’t let any difficulties hold him back. His story provides a terrific example of perseverance! The illustrations are bright and colorful and have an almost cartoonish feel that will draw in reluctant readers and help them enjoy this story.
So grab a bowl of chips–or try making your own!–and gather your kids around to hear the story of one of America’s most popular snacks!