Who invented Christmas crackers? How the first Xmas cracker came to be, when and UK traditions explained

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Christmas crackers are a surefire way to set your festive party off with a bang

Christmas crackers are a staple of the festive season.

Millions of people will sit down to their Christmas dinners and take part in the traditional cracker pull before donning brightly coloured paper hats and delivering one-liners.

The jokes may sometimes fall flat but the seasonal crackers are a surefire way to liven up any Christmas dinner table, and guarantee your annual festivities go off with a bang.

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Lucky recipients of the larger half will enjoy a tiny treat - perhaps a little toy, bottle opener, measuring tape or a paper clip - while the defeated plot their revenge at the buffet later.

Here’s a look at who invented the Christmas cracker, how it came about and when it was first introduced…

Who invented Christmas crackers?

Christmas crackers are enjoyed by many at Christmas time, whether it be at the dinner table or at office parties. The first recording of a Christmas cracker dates back to the 19th Century when a London based confectioner came up with the idea.

Tom Smith wanted a new promotion to help the sales of his bon-bon sweets, which he sold in a twist of paper. He tried inserting love messages, similar to the idea behind fortune cookies, but it was when he heard the crackle of a log he had on the fire that inspiration struck.

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In order to incorporate the banger mechanism, the size of the paper had to be increased. The cracker’s sweet was eventually dropped in favour of a small trinket which was in turn pulled for small gifts, paper hats and a joke in the modern day crackers.

Competitors were quick to jump on the design so Tom Smith and his family had to think of new ways to differentiate their product from others. Tom Smith & Company merged with Caley Crackers in 1953 while a memorial water fountain to the Christmas cracker founder stands in Finsbury Square, London.

How was the first Christmas cracker invented?

The Christmas cracker was designed around a bon-bon sweet, which was wrapped up in a paper bow. The design evolved, initially to fit the banger mechanism in the cracker, and then again to make them easier to pull.

The sweet element of the cracker was replaced with a trinket and then again for a small gift to reflect the season of giving. The Christmas cracker was the brainchild of a London based confectioner Tom Smith who was looking for a new promotional idea.

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When was the first Christmas cracker pulled?

Records show the first Christmas cracker was pulled in 1847.

In 2015, The Harrodian School in London recorded the longest Christmas cracker pulling chain when 1081 people stood in a line and pulled festive crackers.

British comedian Alan Davies set a new Guinness World Record for the most crackers pulled by an individual in 30 seconds, when filming a festive QI episode in August 2020. He achieved 35 successful cracks.

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