Why do the British pull crackers?

Nothing says British eccentricity quite like our love of crackers at Christmas. No, not the crackers you eat with cheese, but cylinders wrapped in coloured paper that go bang when pulled apart, revealing a cheap paper crown, tacky gift and bad joke on the table. The tradition dates back to 1847, when a London confectioner called Tom Smith tried selling sweets wrapped like French bonbons but with a joke in the middle. At first they didn’t sell, until one day (inspired by the crackling of his fire), he decided it would be fun if his sweets made a loud “bang” when pulled in half. Since then, the British have just gone crackers for them. Seriously, no Christmas meal is complete without them.


Tara Swann © I Love English World, n°300, December 2017
photo AdobeStock