We’ve all pulled a Christmas cracker with the family over a Christmas dinner before, but where did this tradition come from? And what’s with the rubbish jokes? Find out the facts on Christmas crackers here!
So let’s start basic. A Christmas cracker often contains a paper hat, a really bad joke and a small gift, the quality of the gift really depends on how much you pay for the cracker, whilst most people would have received a whistle, pencil sharpener or tape measure, there’s some out there that offer jewellery, expensive gadgets & perfume.
Christmas crackers were invented in 1846 by the British confectioner, Thomas Smith, whilst on a trip to Paris, he stumbled upon a bob-bon, which for those of you that don’t know.. it’s basically a sugar almond wrapped up in tissue paper, with a twist either side of the bon-bon. Thomas thought the idea could be a festive way of enjoying sweets and produced other candy wrapped in a similar way, for the lead up to Christmas. Thomas’ bon-bons was a bestseller at Christmas, which lead to his next idea.
These Christmas bon-bons were mainly bought by men for their partner to unwrap, so in the early 1850’s, Thomas came up with the idea of including romantic poems wrapped around the sweet.
In 1860, Thomas was inspired by the crackling of the logs in his fireplace, and decided his crackers needed a bang! He added two strips of chemically impregnated paper, which makes a loud noise on being pulled apart, which is still used today. Originally, these were called cosaques, but were almost instantly referred to as crackers, due to the cracking sound when pulling.
Like any good idea, it was soon copied by other businesses, which meant for Thomas’ crackers to keep selling, he would have had to make them more original, so he decided to replace the bon-bon with a surprise gift. Tom Smith Crackers is still one of the largest manufacturers of crackers in the world, and are pulled by thousands of people around the world, including the Royal family! His cracker company is now owned by Brite Sparks.
In the early 1990’s, Thomas’ son, Walter, took over the business and introduced the paper hat to keep battling against the other cracker rivals. By the end of the 1930’s the romantic poems had been replaced by terrible jokes.
What did one snowman say to the other?
Do you smell carrots?!
So yeah, the last thing to talk about is why the jokes are so awful! It’s not because the joke writers don’t have a sense of humour, but rather because that’s what people love and expect from a cracker. Cracker’s have had complaints in the past of having jokes which can be seen as offensive or in bad taste, which doesn’t fit well around the dinner table, they don’t want people feeling uncomfortable whilst pulling the crackers, otherwise nobody would want them! The jokes are intentionally bad so that all the family can understand them, and laugh at how stupid the joke is, rather than laughing at the person reading them, it’s the best way to keep anyone from being singled out.
Well, that’s all folks! But before you go, let us know what the best/worst joke you’ve had from a cracker, and what your favourite gift is you’ve received.. for me, I was lucky to receive a small Christmas bear, with a hat & scarf (they were posh crackers)!