Ayscoughfee’s display of Christmas items are now on display in the hall. Among these is a box of 1950’s Christmas crackers. Gaining popularity in the Victorian period and a firm favourite in the UK today, crackers were originally invented around 1845 by (most people agree) a man called Tom Smith – a London sweet maker.
On a trip to Paris, Tom was inspired by the French bon-bons he saw, and the French custom of wrapping their sweets in coloured papers. He called his first crackers ‘kiss mottos’, placing a romantic message inside each one along with a sweet – much like fortune cookies – but these only enjoyed a limited success.
Tom found further inspiration by the fireside – hearing the crackle of a log on the fire, he thought to add a bang to his creation. This was an almost overnight success, and Tom’s business went from strength to strength. When he died he left the company to his three sons, who continued to develop the cracker designs and contents.
By Elsa Trueman, Resilience Syndicate Intern at Ayscoughfee Hall Museum and Gardens