The Weird Connection Between Charles Dickens And Potato Chips

The food we eat often reflects our culture and a lot about ourselves, which is why you can find a surprising amount of food references in pop culture. Other foods appeared in music and books long before Beyonce sang "I got hot sauce in my bag" in the song "Formation" on her album Lemonade (via Genius). But before you can really understand how Charles Dickens is related to chips, you really should know some of the strange occurrences that led to potato chips.

The humble potato chip was actually an early act of trolling. According to Taste Made, the potato chip was made by a petty chef in 1853 after a displeased customer sent their French fries back one too many times. The customer kept complaining that the fries were not thin enough. So the chef shaved it down to the point that the customer could not each the fries with a fork after they had been fried to a crisp.

Later, potato chips had become so popular that Americans actually protested during World War II to bring them back. The snack had been deemed non-essential so companies had stopped making them. That changed soon enough after the protests started.

The Charles Dickens reference was to fried potatoes of some variety

While chips might be riot-worthy, they were certainly good enough to make it into Charles Dickens novel: A Tale of Two Cities (via Frost Magazine). He called them "husky chips of potatoes, fried with some reluctant drops of oil." To many, this 1859 work was the first time chips had ever been written about or referenced to in recorded history. However, it is unclear if Dickens was discussing potato chips or British chips, which are what Americans consider to be French fries. 

In Oliver Twist Dickens also talked of fried fish warehouses, which would make it seem as though he had referred to fish and chips. Besides, fish and chips were the ideal British dish that became popular in 1860 (via Love Food). So, it could very well be that Dickens had a love for French fries rather than potato chips, especially since the thinner, crispier potato chips were invented in the U.S. In the end, it's clear Dickens certainly immortalized some form of fried potatoes, and regardless of which kind, you know they are scrumptious either way.