Christmas cracker

From Academic Kids

The Christmas cracker is an integral part of British Christmas celebrations. It consists of a cardboard tube wrapped in a brightly decorated twist of paper (making it resemble an oversized sweet-wrapper). The cracker is pulled by two people, and, much in the manner of a wishbone, the cracker splits unevenly. The split is accompanied by a small bang (produced by the effect of friction on a chemically impregnated card strip). The person with the larger portion of cracker empties the contents from the tube and keeps them. Typically these contents are a coloured paper hat, a small toy, and a motto, joke or trivia on a scrap of paper. Crackers are often pulled after Christmas dinner or at parties.

Crackers were invented by London confectioner Tom Smith, in 1847, as a development of his bon bon sweets, which he sold in a twist of paper (the origins of the traditional sweet-wrapper). As sales of bon bons slumped, Smith began to come up with new promotional ideas. His first tactic was to insert mottos into the wrappers of the sweets (cf. Fortune cookies), but this had only limited success.

Assembled crackers are typically sold in boxes of three to twelve. These typically have different designs usually with red, green and gold colours. Making crackers from scratch using the tubes from used toilet rolls and tissue paper are a common activity for children.

He was inspired to add the "crackle" element when he heard the crackle of a log he'd just put on the fire. The size of the bon bon had to be increased to incorporate the banger mechanism, and the sweet itself was eventually dropped, to be replaced by a small gift. The new product was initially marketed as the Cosaque, but the onomatopoeic "cracker" soon became the commonly used name, as rival varieties were introduced to the market.

It is a standing joke that all the jokes and mottos in crackers are unfunny and unmemorable. Similarly in most standard commercial product, the gift is equally awful.

Related

The Oplatki is an unleavened cracker broken with a blessing during Christmas Wigilia celebrations in Polish and Lithuanian culture.

simple:Christmas cracker

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