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Enlarge Museum case with objects from this exhibit on display.

Museum Exhibit Case

Madison, Wisconsin. Objects on temporary display at the Wisconsin Historical Museum in 2003 told the story of the Red Dot Potato Chip Company.

In this exhibit you'll learn the history of potato chips and about the Red Dot Potato Chip Company, founded in Madison, Wisconsin.

Potato Chips Invented More Than 150 Years Ago

Most sources agree that Moon's Lake House resort in Saratoga Springs, New York, served the world's first potato chips in 1853. According to legend, George Crum, a chef at the resort, invented the paper-thin chip as a sarcastic reply to a patron who had complained that his fried potatoes were too thick and greasy. Instead of being upset, the patron asked for more! Details of the story vary, and some credit George's sister Kate, another cook at Moon's, with the invention.

"Saratoga chips" became a standard item at Moon's Lake House and later at many eateries in the eastern United States. For the rest of the 1800s, restaurants were the primary places where people made and ate potato chips.

In 1895 a man in Cleveland, Ohio, may have become the first person to make chips for sale in dry goods stores. During the next few decades, small-scale potato chip manufacturers kettle-fried chips in small batches for the store trade. Customers scooped the chips out of barrels or glass display cases into paper bags. Chips sold this way quickly lost their crispness. According to the Snack Food Association, the solution to this problem came in 1926, when Laura Scudder, owner of a potato chip company in Monterey Park, California, invented the wax paper potato chip bag. This new bag, along with the mechanical potato peeler and continuous fryer, made possible the mass-manufacture and distribution of chips.