Black History,  True Stories

Black Pioneers You Haven't Heard of: George Crum

February is black history month, and as a Brit living in the US, this is a time when I realize how little I know about figures in Black and American history. This month I want to highlight one of the people I have discovered and share with you a craft to make to enhance student learning in the hope that you will want to teach that person and their legacy to your students.

George Crum

George Crum: photo public domain

Potato chips may have been around since the 1820s, but it is thanks to a chef named George Speck that they became popular in America. George worked in a famous restaurant, and he got his name ‘Crum’ because one of the wealthy diners in his restaurant could not remember George’s last name.

In 1853 a customer (some accounts say it was Cornelius Vanderbilt, the railroad and shipping magnate) asked for thin fries. When the waiter brought them over, the customer complained that the fries were not thin enough. The waiter took them back to the kitchen and told George.

George was not happy, to say the least, and he decided to teach the customer a lesson. He sliced the potatoes as thinly as he could, fried them up and put salt on them. He then sent them back to the diner, who loved them!

Diners heard about the chips, and asked George to make them. Soon they were being served up all over New York and America!

It is fair to say that George probably didn’t invent the potato chip – they were already being served in Europe. But thanks to George, the favorite snack was introduced to America.

This ‘potato chip’ bag book is one of my favorite black history activities. It comes in two sizes; ‘individual size’ and ‘sharing size’, so that students can work on the books independently or in groups. There is a page about George, and blank pages for students to write their own text.

My favorite pages are where the students get to design their own potato chip flavor and the package.

Read more about ideas for studying Black History month here and here.

Find more black history crafts on Teachers Pay Teachers by clicking here.

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