Marco Polo’s 24 Holiday traditions from around the world – Day 24: London Christmas crackers

Happy Christmas Eve to all! It’s Day 24 of our Advent Calendar which means that it is time for the final Holiday tradition. For this one we don’t have to travel far, as we are taking a look at the good old Christmas crackers. Did you miss yesterday’s post? Check it out here!

Photo credit: Saz B on Unsplash


What is Christmas without Christmas crackers with the paper crowns, riddles and silly jokes? But, did you know that Christmas crackers have only been around for less than 200 years? In 1847, a Londoner, Tom Smith, was trying to figure out a way to promote the sales of his bonbons. He first experimented with the adding of messages into the wrappers, small “love messages.” According to a tale, still trying to improve his sales numbers, Mr Smith was lighting a fire and when he heard the logs crackle, he found the inspiration to create a bonbon that would crack when pulled open. Mr Smith called his new cracking bonbon “the Cosaque” but – to Mr Smith’s dismay – the term “cracker,” invented by his competitors, was the one that stuck. The explosive popularity of the crackers was a bit of a double-edged sword for Mr Smith, and for his son, Walter Smith. Eventually competition was popping up everywhere and Mr Smith the younger had to find a way to distinguish their crackers from those sold by everyone else. This is when he decided to abandon the sweets entirely and the crackers we know today were truly born, with the paper crown, the riddle and the trinket.

Will you be pulling crackers this Christmas?


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