Friday, 25 December 2020

Merry Christmas crackers!

The Christmas cracker seems ubiquitous in Britain at this time of year - in shops, on tables, and in seasonal illustrations. It's also a London invention: confectioner Tom Smith was apparently inspired by the French papillote wrapped sweet, but added the snap, in 1847. Legend has it he was inspired by the crackle of a log on a fire. Of course, other manufacturers soon began creating their own crackers - so Smith's son Walter swapped the original sweet inside for gifts and paper hats. Tom Smith's contribution to Christmas tradition is marked by a fountain in Finsbury Square.

The BFI Archives have shared this film from 1910, showing crackers being made - and ending with a strange seasonal twist!

The company shown, Clarke Nickolls & Coombs, were confectionery and jam manufacturers, founded in 1872 and based in Hackney Wick. They appear to have been unusually socially responsible employers, having introduced profit-sharing in 1890 as well as providing a convalescent home and social clubs for employees. A provident fund paid pensions, funeral grants and even 'marriage portions' for female employees. In 1946 the company changed its name to Clarnico, and later became part of Trebor Bassett.

I shall be pulling my Christmas cracker alone this year - but maybe I'll imagine the ghost of Tom Smith as I do so!



SilverTiger said...

Sorry to hear you are alone for Christmas but I wish you all possible happiness today and in the New Year 2021.

CarolineLD said...

Thank you, and the same to you!
And thanks to the magic of video calling, I did get to share a drink with my family, even if I couldn't pull a cracker with them :-)

Victurk said...

Welcome back. Missed you!

CarolineLD said...

Thank you!