Snacking last night with the children on some so-so Tyrrell’s salt and vinegar ‘furrowed’ crisps, I indulged myself in a little whimsical cadenza on the fact that the crinkle-cut crisp was one of the many great things Yorkshire has given the world. The crinkle-cut crisp revolutionised the world of savoury snacks, I explained, when it was invented in the dawn of the junk-food era. I can’t quite remember what I said about it, but I linked the crinkle-cut crisp in with the great events of the 20th century, irritating the children, but amusing myself.
Anyway, today I decided to look up the ‘real’ history of the crinkle-cut crisp. I remembered that Seabrook’s – a Bradford-based crisp manufacture – had crinkle cut crisps back in the 70s, when they were still a novelty – they were the only crisps available in our school tuck shop. The tuck shop was ruled over by a terrifying teacher called Mr Carrol, who other, milder, teachers would call on when any brutalisation needed to be done. He had huge, blunt fingers, and you could exact a petty revenge on him by putting your 5p flat on the tuck shop counter, and watch him try to pick it up, his frustration growing like a boiling caldera waiting to blow.
The Seabrook crisp had a light, melting texture, though I’m not sure what role the crinkling played in that. It’s well established crinkle-cut chip absorbs more fat, as the chip surface area to volume ratio is increased, just as the villi and microvilli in the gut increase the surface area, and facilitate nutrient absorption. But surely a crinkle-cut crisp is different, in that the crisp merely undulates, so to speak, and retains a uniform thickness – like a concertinaed piece of paper. A little further research on the topic turned up the surprising fact that Seabrook’s had, in fact, invented the crinkle-cut crisp, back in the 1950s. Or at least introduced it to this country. I’ve no idea where from. Perhaps Bulgaria, which was a powerhouse of crisp innovation back in the early cold-war period, when it was charged with producing snacks for the Warsaw Pact armies. Anyway, it was a very pleasing coming-together of fancy and reality.
And if ever you encounter a bag of Seabrook Crisps, I recommend you grab them – they’re quite hard to come by, outside Yorkshire.