The legend of the invention of the potato chip largely points to a Black and Native American man by the name of George Speck. While details surrounding “Saratoga Chips” continue to be a point of debate, what seems to be clear is that it was either Speck or his sister that helped to create the popular snack.
Speck was born in 1822 to a Black father and Native American mother of the Huron tribe. Speck, also known as George Crum, took on the name because his father was a jockey known by that moniker.
As a young man, Speck worked as a trader and guide in the Adirondack Mountains. In 1853, he took a job as a cook at the Moon Lake Lodge Resort in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Working alongside his sister, Aunt Kate Speck Wicks, Speck served a plate of french fries that a patron sent back for being too thickly-cut. In frustration, Speck cut a potato into thin slices, fried them in oil, and sent them back out.
Instead of refusal by the patron, the Saratoga Chips became a hit. In 1860, Speck opened a restaurant by the name of Crumb’s House and featured a basket of the chips on every table. After 30 years, Speck closed down Crumb’s House and never patented the chips.
Another version of how the potato chip was invented is while Speck and his sister, serving as a line cook, were preparing a meal, she accidentally knocked a thin slice of potato into oil. After tasting the culinary mistake, Speck allegedly said that the mistake was tasty and he would be serving the chips regularly.
Little Known Black History Fact: George Speck, Inventor Of The Potato Chip was originally published on blackamericaweb.com