For many of us, the Christmas cracker is a staple for when the festive season comes around. Whether you like them for the cheesy Christmas themed jokes or the vibrant paper hats, they are sure to make their way to the dinner table on the 25th of December. But Christmas crackers weren’t always the way we know and love them, but have developed over time. In fact, the first Christmas cracker was invented in the 1840s. Here’s the history of the beloved Christmas cracker and how it became a favourite of many around the world.
Who invented the Christmas cracker?
During 1845-1850 a sweet maker known as Tom Smith created a sweet taken from inspiration from the French bon bons. This was an almond wrapped in decorative paper, and Tom took his own spin on this and created sweets similar that included a small motto or riddle inside the packaging of the sweet. That being said, although this was the first attempt at a Christmas cracker, they did not sell very well.
Introducing the Tom Smith Company
Later on, Tom Smith created a new launch called the ‘Bangs of Expectation.” He believed it would be a fun way for his toys and sweets to be opened with a crack when the wrapper was pulled apart. This idea came about after he was sitting in front of his log fire and he saw the cracks of flames coming from it.
But to bring his idea to life Tom would have to make the wrapper actually create that cracking noise. To do this it is believed that Tom went to a fireworks company known as Brock’s Fireworks and bought their recipe so that he could create his cracker packaging.
It was not until Tom died and his business was taken over by his three sons, Tom, Walter and Henry, that new ideas were added to the cracker such as the festive hats that we see today. They got this idea while travelling around the world.
But what we know as crackers did not always go by that name and were actually nicknamed ‘cosaques.’ The reason it is believed that they were nicknamed this was after the ‘Cossak’ soldiers who were well known to ride horses while firing their guns up into the air.
But that was not the only different thing about crackers compared to how we see them in 2021, in fact, there were many different types of crackers that were themed for different types of people. Although nowadays we have crackers with different toys based on prices, there were crackers made for different types of people.
For bachelors and spinsters (also known as single men and women) you would have gifts inside the crackers such as rings and false teeth. There were even crackers made for special occasions such as Coronations and for people highly regarded in society, such as war heroes and suffragettes. Even now the royal family gets crackers specially made just for them, but these are far more expensive.
Christmas crackers as we see them in 2021
Although a lot has changed since the 1840s, there are still aspects of the cracker that are the same as they were when they were first invented. This includes the crack that you hear when you pull a cracker, that is still sure to put a smile on your face.
Nowadays we see crackers at any Christmas themed dinner event, usually sat next to the cutlery. They are an item that is seen as an extra dose of Christmas spirit and are pulled by those sitting around you, and then emptied to see what you got inside. From the colourful packaging that is sure to add a bright touch to any Christmas event, to the funny joke that you have most likely heard over a hundred times, there is something that everyone still loves about the cracker over a century later.
Check out our selection of alternative Christmas crackers here. These pet friendly crackers 'without the bang' contain a Christmas joke, hat and game. They are available in sets of six.